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Cannabis 101: Tinctures


By Sue Vorenberg
Cannabis Daily Record

Tinctures may not be as prominent on the consumer cannabis market as other items – I’m looking at you, flower and vapes – but what they lack in hype they make up for in their sheer diversity of uses.

Tinctures are a great solution for cannabis enthusiasts that want to avoid smoking. They don’t kick in as fast as flower (which usually just takes a minute or two after smoking), but they’re much faster than other edibles when taken under the tongue – with most feeling the effects within 15-45 minutes.

Mixed with drinks or food, they take the same time to kick in as other edibles – about an hour or two. But the benefit of using tinctures is that you can easily infuse just about any meal or cocktail without worrying about dosage amounts or figuring out how to transform flower cannabis into a cooking product like budder.

(Kronic HD Tonic tincture)

(Kronic HD Tonic tincture)

So what are they?

Tinctures are a liquid form of cannabis made by extracting and gently heating buds or other plant material to activate the THC.

Those that make their own tinctures at home often do so with alcohol, which is used to pull the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.), terpenes and other goodies from the plant matter. In recreational markets, though, because of restrictions on the use of alcohol with cannabis, they’re generally made with some sort of food-grade glycerin (which can make them taste sweet) or coconut oil.

How do you use tinctures?

If you want a tincture to kick in fairly quickly, the best method of delivery is to use a half or full dropper (depending on your tolerance level) under the tongue.

The sublingual (under the tongue) method allows your body to absorb the cannabinoids more quickly. And, one thing to remember about sublingual use is that you shouldn’t swallow the liquid right away. Leave it under your tongue and give it some time to absorb into your system over a minute or two – because otherwise it may act more like a normal edible.

If you add tinctures to food or drink, in comparison, or if you swallow the liquid rather than holding it under your tongue, the cannabinoids will travel through your digestive system. That process takes longer and can affect you a little differently because of how your body absorbs and digests it.

Another difference is that the edible method lasts a bit longer than the under the tongue method. Edibles can last 5-6 hours. Sublingual use – at least for me – tends to be more in the 2-3 hour range.

(Black Alpaca tincture - note: they now come in regular dropper bottles)

(Black Alpaca tincture – note: they now come in regular dropper bottles)

To use a tincture to infuse your own edibles or drinks, just full the dropper with your desired dose and then drop it onto or into whatever you want to infuse. New generations of tinctures are starting to appear on the market with a variety of flavors – making it even easier to figure out what foods or drinks they would pair well with.

What about dosage?

Typically a full dropper delivers about 10 mg of THC, and a half dropper about 5 mg – although you’ll want to check the bottle for instructions. In comparison, most edibles in the recreational market (like cookies or chocolates) are packaged in 10 mg THC doses (they often come in much stronger doses on the medical market, so be careful if you’re a new patient).

Like any edible, it’s best to try a half-dose (5 mg or less) when you first take it. The goal is to make sure you don’t get overwhelmed and have a bad experience.

If you take a half-dropper and don’t feel anything after a few hours, then try a stronger dose, maybe 10 mg. Move your dosage up slowly until you find the right amount that makes you feel great without being overpowered.

Tinctures in Washington’s I-502 market

So far, there are at least three tincture manufacturers in the Washington state recreational market.

The first, and in my opinion the best, is a line of tinctures made by Fairwinds Manufacturing.

Fairwinds tinctures use whole plant cannabis extract and a combination of herbs to produce a variety of effects. The main product line so far includes several flavors of coconut oil based tincture (including wintermint, citrus and my favorite, cinnamon) that are enhanced with natural terpenes from other plants.

Because they use coconut oil, Fairwinds tinctures aren’t as cloyingly sweet as many others on the market. This makes them easier to use when infusing cocktails or food – and also makes them easier to take under the tongue if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth.

Newer Fairwinds tincture product lines include a high CBD tincture that’s great for muscle relaxation and stress relief and a Deep Sleep Tincture which is one of the best products I’ve tried for fighting insomnia. Both are infused with helpful herbs.


Next up are Black Alpaca tinctures. These glycerine-based tinctures are sweet and come in a variety of flavors, including watermelon, banana, orange and apple. Personally, I find them a bit too sugary to take under the tongue, but they’re great for infusing fruity cocktails and other drinks. They also tend to be less expensive that other tinctures on the market.

The other manufacturer that I know of (there may be more out there that I’m unaware of and haven’t tried yet) is Henderson Distribution, which makes a glycerine based indica and a sativa tincture under the brand Kronic HD Tonic. While some people swear by them, I find the taste and thickness of the products to be cloyingly sweet and unpleasant – think distilled marijuana with sugar poured over it. I also didn’t get much of a bang from the product, although I’ve heard others say they really enjoy it.

What about you? Do you have a favorite tincture or product that you’d recommend to others? Please let us know and share with our readers in the comments section!


2 Comments on Cannabis 101: Tinctures

  1. I like Alapaca Punch tintures. The taste isn’t bad andI don’t feel they are too sweet like the author did.

  2. You certainly can’t beat the price for Alpaca Punch. They’re nice solid tinctures, and far better in my opinion than the Kronic HD Tonic ones.

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