You may think that cannabis stems and stalks are useless, but think again! There’s resin on those sticks, so why not make use of it? Most people throw away their cannabis stems and stalks all the time, believing them to be worthless – but this isn’t necessarily the case. If you have a little forethought, and a collection jar, within a few short weeks you’ll have enough leftover cannabis stalk to be of use.
While stems certainly don’t have as much trichome coverage as the flowers and the surrounding leaves, they do contain trace amounts of THC. Some stalks may have over 9% THC, according to this post from MCR Labs – but it’s more likely you’ll find around 1-2%. Still, it’s worth taking advantage of this little bit of THC instead of just throwing it away.
Start Your Weed Stem Collection
If you buy from a dispensary, your weed shouldn’t come with that many sticks, stems, and seeds. If you do discover one in your professionally produced bud, you’ll likely start questioning the quality. Dispensary weed should rarely come with stems, and when it does, they’ll be small and perhaps not worthwhile to save.
If you purchase cannabis on the black market, or from a home-grown source, stems are much more commonplace. You’ll likely get a couple in every batch. Keep a glass mason jar handy, and start a small collection. Seal the jar tightly every time you open it to avoid mold and mildew.
If you grow for yourself, you have all the stems you could ever want. You might even be overflowing with sticks and seeds. You’ll have enough stems from one plant to get creative with any of the ideas below – no long-term collection needed. You’ll also have access to enough cannabis-by-product that it’ll make economic sense to use them in some productive way.
If you’re on a tight budget, it may be worth recovering whatever you can from your stalks – so here are a few ways to do it. Some of these ideas are a bit more outrageous than the others, but if you’re looking to get creative – we want to hear from you in the comments below.
The Importance of Decarbing Cannabis
The decarboxylation process is just as crucial for the stems, as it is for the buds. If you intend of using the stems for their cannabinoid content, you’ll first need to decarb them. Decarbing is the process of exposing cannabis (or other organic material) to heat and time, to transform some chemical compounds into others. In marijuana, the decarbing process converts THCA and CBDA, into their better-known sister cannabinoids THC and CBD. Although stems have significantly lower levels of cannabinoids, you’ll still want to decarb them before use.
Step-by-Step to Decarbing Cannabis
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Place all stems (shake, leaves, or whatever else) in a single later on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and allow to cool.
- Store in a dry, dark, airtight container.
Weed Stem Tea
The easiest and most popular way to reuse your collection of cannabis stems is in weed tea. Cannabis tea is a longstanding tradition, traced back to the plants’ spiritual and medicinal traditions in ancient India. Weed tea, made with stems, shake and leaves, is a gentle and lovely way to reap the therapeutic benefits without getting knocked to the floor by THC.
- Place 1-2 grams of decarbed stems inside a cheesecloth, or reusable tea bag/tea ball.
- Bring water to boil, and pour boiling water over the stems. Add another tea flavor, if you prefer to mask the taste of cannabis. Mint and chai work well.
- Allow steeping for five to ten minutes.
- Remove tea bags, and combine with milk or sugar if desired.
Weed Stem Butter
Weed butter, made with any part of the weed plant (except the root), is perfect to capture the cannabinoids for later use. Weed butter is a multipurpose ingredient, capable of use in sweet and savory dishes. Because the butter is slowly infused over low heat, decarbing beforehand is not necessary.
- Roughly grind the cannabis stems in a coffee grinder or electric weed grinder. Hand grinders are not very useful for the tough stalks.
- Take approximately ¼ oz of ground stalk material, and combine in a saucepan with 1 cup of butter.
- Over low to medium heat, simmer the mixture for 30 minutes until the stems are golden brown.
- Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth and allow to cool.
- Use the cannabutter as you would typically, in any recipe, for a strong edible experience.
Weed Stem Kief
Making kief from weed stems, and not from the trichome coated leaves and nugs, is a bit more time consuming than usual. If you are already pumping out kief from other parts of the plant, throw the stems in there as well. Otherwise, you may want to avoid this option, as it’s not a super-productive way of getting the crystal from the stems.
- Place all unwanted parts of the plant in the freezer, ground or roughly chopped, in a thick plastic bag.
- Each time you add more to the container, give the mixture a rough and thorough shaking.
- Eventually, you’ll notice a collection of frozen crystal at the bottom of the bag.
- Remove the stems, stalks, etc, to collect the kief.
- Store kief in a dark, dry, and airtight container.
- Reuse the stems for tea or infusions.
Weed Stem Tincture
Whether you are interested in tinctures for sublingual oral delivery of medical marijuana, or more for recreational purposes, cannabis infusions are a perfect way to reuse stems. Keep in mind, unlike other tinctures made from bud; you won’t know the strength of your concoction until you test it. Go slow with any new batch of weed stem tincture to make sure the potency is one you can handle.
- Place all weed stems, roughly chopped, into a liter of high percentage alcohol like Everclear. The more stems and shake, theoretically the more potent the tincture.
- Re-seal bottle, and place in a cool, dark, place for at least a month.
- Every few days, gently shake the mixture to allow the alcohol to absorb all valuable cannabinoids.
- Strain the mixture, and place the tincture into a dark glass bottle.
- Test carefully, to understand the strength of dose.
Weed Stem Finger Hash
Another suggestion is weed stem finger hash. Just like with weed stem kief, it’s a suggestion that only makes sense if you are already making finger hash from more productive parts of the plant. However, if you’ve been rolling your sticky fingers together for finger hash and have a bunch of stems leftover, why not throw them into the mix?
- Follow these instructions for finger hash.
- To process stems, carefully run your fingers up and down the length of the stalk.
- Pay close attention to the nooks and crannies, which may contain more crystal.
- Roll between your fingers, and place the sticky, pasty formations into an airtight storage container.
Get Creative With Weed Stem Fibers
Some of the suggestions out there, are really out there – if you know what I’m saying. But given enough time and motivation, stoners can do some pretty creative things. If you want to make the most out of your collection of stems and stalks, check out these options. Release your inner cannabis artist with these creative ideas.
Weed Stem Paper
- In a small bowl combine cannabis stems, which you’ve roughly ground up, and finely shredded newspaper or other thin paper.
- Add water, and mix with your hands. Mix until into a spreadable paste.
- You’ll need a fine mesh screen set up to dry the paper. Staple a screen to a wooden frame, or purchase a papermaking kit.
- Spread the paper paste in a very thin layer over the screen, which you’ll place over a tray to catch any moisture.
- Place a heavy flat object (like a book wrapped in plastic) over the screen to press out the water.
- Allow to dry, and carefully peel away from the screen.
Weave With Weed Stem Fibers
- Suitable for longer, more robust stems. Collect a large quantity, roughly a dozen or more.
- Carefully strip the fibers from the stalks, you should get a few long strips per stem.
- You can weave as is, or soak the stalks overnight to achieve a more malleable texture.
- Follow a few helpful online weaving videos on Youtube, to create a weed stem piece of art or even a basket!
Save Yourself All the Effort and Just Smoke Them
Notably, most of the options on this list take a little forethought. You not only need to collect weed stems for weeks, or months, in advance, you also need the energy to process them. What if you have no time to get creative, and no desire to carefully process the valuable stems?
The easy answer to this problem is to smoke your stems. Will it change the quality of your smoke? Will it taste a bit different? Will it make the toke harsher? Probably, but if you grind the stems fine enough, you may not even notice. Mix in finely ground stems into your finely ground cannabis flower; you’ll likely never see a difference. The best part? No part of your plant goes to waste.