For patients concerned with the possibility that smoking medical marijuana may have harmful effects on the lungs, and for those who require a maximum dose of medicinal compounds, oral ingestion of marijuana is preferred over smoking or vaporizing. However, some patients have had unstable or unsuitable results, so we offer this detailed explanation and simple recipe.

When marijuana is eaten rather than smoked, the human liver produces natural cannabinoid metabolites that enter the bloodstream, creating a stronger effect than when cannabis smoke is absorbed by the lungs. The common technique of baking marijuana in brownies or other foods is effective, but unpredictable. The medicinal cannabis compounds are melted into the food when cooking, so the absorption of the herb is complicated by digestion of the food. Therefore, the optimum medicinal benefits are easier to predict and manage when marijuana is cooked with coconut oil and packed into gelatin capsules.

THC, the most powerful medicinal compound in cannabis, is available by prescription from licensed physicians. But most patients who try Marinol discover that it is far too psychoactive. THC is only one of a handful of cannabis compounds that work together harmoniously. For example, it is known that Cannabidiol (CBD) has sedative effects that offset the stimulative effects of pure THC. That is a part of why pure THC pills are known to overpower the senses. In order to get the optimum medicinal benefits without unwanted side effects, all of the natural cannabis compounds should be taken together as nature intended. Thus these homemade "Mari pills" are far superior to pharmeceutical Marinol. Plus, at a cost of up to $12 per tablet, Marinol is much more expensive than pills made from the natural plant.

Commonly, patients use marijuana leaf for cooking and flower tops (buds) for smoking. This practice is often based on frugality, as marijuana leaf is usually too harsh to smoke, yet too valuable to waste. But, as explained above, cannabinoid compounds such as CBD are more of a sedative than a stimulant, and because marijuana leaves usually contain a higher percentage of CBD than THC, eating cannabis leaf can make one especially drowsy. This recipe calls for the use of quality cannabis buds and leaves mixed together. Patients must experiment with different quantities of bud versus leaf to discover the ratio that works best for their specific conditions.

One of the drawbacks of eating marijuana leaf is the common complaint of stomach irritation. The top side of cannabis leaves are coated with thousands of microscopic thorns, and these sometimes cause minor intestinal irritation, even after grinding. For some patients, the use of leaf in Mari Pills is not tolerable, and in such cases, the use of buds alone, without the addition of leaf, is preferred. Note: the small leaves found in the marijuana flower tops are not as difficult to digest as the large "fan" leaves that grow from the stems. Also, the small bud leaves are far more potent than the larger leaves required for photosynthesis. As a general rule, the smaller leaves growing closest to the flower tops are closest to the plant's resin glands, and therefore have the greatest amount of medicinal compounds.

The ratio of bud versus leaf used in these pills affects the values of the recipe, I.E.: leaf tends to grind down to a more powdery consistency than bud, and leaf tends to absorb less oil than does bud, and so the exact details of this variation must be determined by personal experience. The quantities recorded below will fluctuate with differences in the type of marijuana used.

Especially for those with tender digestion, all marijuana must be ground to a fine consistency before cooking. A new coffee grinder that does not contain coffee residue is preferred. First, using scissors or by hand, remove as much of the stem material as possible. Stems have NO medicinal value, and eating hemp stalk is likely to irritate the stomach. If the marijuana contains seeds, they may be included, as hemp seeds are highly nutritious, but again, they do not contain THC, CBD, or any of the other medicinal compounds found in marijuana. All material must be dry. Grind the herb to a fine consistency.

Cannabis compounds are oil-based and do not mix with water, but they boil at 392 degrees F. Cannabis compounds bond with fatty compounds when heated. While many types of vegetable oils may suffice, we find the best results are obtained using coconut oil. Coconut oil has been shown to have powerful anti-viral and anti-fungal properties

One half ounce of dried and cleaned marijuana ground to fine powder in a small coffee grinder equals about one half cup of powder. Set the half-cup of green powder by the stove. Use a very small saucepan. Add 3 or 4 tablespoons of unprocessed virgin coconut oil. Set burner on medium, and use a candy thermometer (up to 400 degrees) to bring the oil to a temperature of 350 degrees. Note: the temperature of heated oil generally rises about 25 degrees after being removed from medium stove heat, so remove from stove at about 325, then wait a moment until the temperature peaks and begins to fall. When the oil reaches 350 degrees add the entire half-cup of powder all at once. The oil will sizzle slightly as the reaction takes place. Stir thoroughly, making sure that the powder and oil are completely mixed. (Do not use thermometer for stirring because it might break.) If the mixture is not pasty, then carefully add more green powder or oil. (Only use enough oil to saturate the green powder to a dark green paste. Too much oil makes messy pills-too little, and the cannabis compounds will burn instead of bonding to the fat content of the oil.) Mix thoroughly, then return to burner on medium heat. Watch the temperature. Continue mixing until the paste looks more oily at about 300 to 325 degrees. Those who have used non-smoking marijuana vaporizers will recognize the smell of vapor trails that rise at 300 to 325 degrees. As soon as the vapor trails appear strongly, remove from heat and mix, then set aside to cool. (Accurate temperature control is most important. After heating, the paste should still be about the same color. If the paste has turned rich brown instead of dark green, the product was overheated and the majority of medicinal compounds were lost.) Let the paste cool below 100 degrees before packing into gelatin capsules using standard herbal gel cap machines available for under $20 at most health food stores. This recipe makes about 50 of the large size gelatin capsules. Do not use vegetarian gel caps that can melt from exposure to vegetable oils. Pills stored in a freezer will maintain potency for many months.

Common doses are in the range of 2 to 5 pills, depending on the quality of the marijuana used and the patient's personal use. We find the most appreciable results are obtained when the pills are taken just before dinner as therapeutic effects manifest more fully during periods of relaxation and limited activity.

by Martin Martinez, author of The New Prescription - Marijuana As Medicine