Decarboxylation isn’t unique to cannabis, many compounds require decarb for certain therapeutic properties to be harnessed. It is a process that occurs when we cook with herbs and spices but for some compounds it can be the difference between being just therapeutic or being psychoactive!
Decarboxylation happens when heat is applied over a duration of time and the carboxyl acid groups of a compound are removed during the process. At around a sweet spot of 220-240 degrees Fahrenheit for a duration between 90 to 120 minutes the THCa may be fully removed, leaving mostly THC.
After THCa has dropped the carboxyl acid leaving THC, continuing the decarboxylation process will continue to convert or exchange the THC into CBN. Higher ratios of CBN can contribute to why edibles are often sedating.
If you are wanting to make edibles that are less psychoactive while still using THC dominant cannabis, avoid applying too much heat for too long to maintain a higher ratio of THCa. This can give therapeutic properties without feeling intoxicated or ‘high’.
If you are seeking less psychoactive and more sedative properties to aid with sleep, then applying heat for a longer duration than 120 minutes would help you achieve a higher ratio of CBN in the final product.
If you are solely looking to achieve that psychoactivity THC is known for, stick to 120-minute processing time to achieve a higher ratio of activate THC.
Lower heat and less time can also help retain more of the terpene profiles of your cannabis.