Many people may think that they have mastered the art of cannabis infusion at home on the stove thanks to their go-to butter recipe that never disappoints, but they may be skipping a very critical step that could take their infusions to the next level and also save them a lot of wasted cannabis. Attorney, entrepreneur and inventor Shanel Lindsay used to be in the same boat before she decided to go get her homemade infusion tested and realized that she was burning away most of the healing cannabinoids she wanted to utilize to treat an ovarian cyst she discovered more than a decade ago.
That discovery led her down a path of rigorous research and experimentation that gave her a deeper understanding and appreciation for the scientific necessity of decarboxylation, but also left her without any options to successfully execute the delicate process without losing therapeutic compounds. She found it impossible to get a precise temperature profile with kitchen appliances typically used to decarb cannabis like conventional ovens, toaster ovens and crockpots.
Frustrated, she founded the Boston-based biotech company Ardent and created a device called NOVA, which decarboxylates the THC in cannabis with lab-grade precision to make it bioavailable to your body without any loss of potency.
The process of decarboxylation is a chemical reaction where heat causes inactive compounds to break down into active cannabinoids that can bind your cell receptors in your endocannabinoid system and produce a high. For example, through decarboxylation, inactive compounds like THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) and CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) are converted into THC and CBD.
But if decarboxylation is done without precision, then cannabinoids can be burned off as waste or fail to completely convert. Plus, if THC is pushed too far, then it converts to the cannabinoid CBN.
“When the average person is making cannabis-infused butter or oil, there’s a lot of compound loss there,” Lindsay explains. “They are often using much more cannabis than necessary. Smoking cannabis produces an even higher loss. You lose about 90 percent of the available THC in a strain when you smoke it.”
With the NOVA, Lindsay wanted to introduce a new way of thinking about and approaching cannabis that allows users to get from point A to point B — from raw plant to final product — as efficiently as possible without any damage to compounds or terpenes. The airtight NOVA device can hold up to 14 grams of cannabis or 3-5 ounces of kief at one time. Inside the odor-proof container, a heating arc heats up the cannabis to the lowest temperature possible for decarboxylation — in order to preserve terpenes — and then through a precise heating cycle, with a cool-down.
“You can take your material, whether that’s flower or kief or concentrate, put it in the device and press the button. It takes about an hour and 45 minutes to complete the process and that’s literally it,” she explains. “It will look essentially the same as when you put it in, but it will now be activated without any loss. At that point, you could use it to make other products, but it’s not necessary to do anything with it. You could just eat it if you wanted and sprinkle it onto food like a seasoning.”
Lindsay adds that many people think decarbed cannabis must be infused in heated butter or oil, but it can also be mixed with topical products like lotion, unique foods like barbeque sauce or other medicated products. “I often suggest just mixing the activated material with coconut oil because oil can help with absorption in the body,” she says.
One of Lindsay’s main objectives behind creating the NOVA is to empower people by giving them the tools and the confidence to heal themselves by making it easy to start incorporating cannabis into their own life in a way that’s natural and makes sense. She plans for Ardent to start selling vehicles that people can use once they’ve activated their chosen material.
“Soon, we’ll be having things like edible kits and capsules that are full of vitamins on one side and space the other side for the decarbed cannabis to be inserted,” she says. “You don’t have to do anything special to the activated material, but we want to be able to provide options for people who might not know that there are other ways they can utilize their cannabis that may not know yet.”
Her focus, though, is on providing a device that gives users the ability to consistently create medicine that retains 100 percent of the available THC each and every time.
“Accuracy is important to me,” she says. “The technology the NOVA has is backed by science and clinical data. But, at the end of the day, I made this for consumers like me who need reliability and really only care if it gets the job done. I want people to be able to have the opportunity to take their healing into their own hands with ease.”
TELL US, have you ever made edibles?
Originally published in Issue 32 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE