Don’t throw away your cannabis leaves! Here are four uses for cannabis leaves that are better than putting them in your local landfill.
Leaves are the primary energy gatherers of the cannabis plant. Green chlorophyll in the leaves helps harvest the sun’s energy, transforming it into vital fuel. Without healthy leaves, the cannabis plant is not able to live up to its full potential.
However, it is the buds of the cannabis plant that are harvested for medical and recreational use, meaning the leaves that are pruned during cultivation and harvest are often seen as a byproduct, rather than a valuable product of the cannabis plant.
Here, we will discuss the various potential uses of cannabis leaves to ensure you are getting the most out of your plant each and every harvest.
Types of Cannabis Leaves
There are two types of leaves on a cannabis plant – the fan leaf and the sugar leaf.
- Fan Leaf: Broad leaves that shoulder most of the plant’s light gathering. These leaves are typically trimmed during cultivation and contain low levels of cannabinoids.
- Sugar Leaf: Grow close to the cannabis plant’s flowers or “buds”. These leaves are usually trimmed after harvest, either before or after drying and curing. They contain higher levels of cannabinoids than fan leaves.\
The cannabis plant is highly nutritious, containing significant levels of essential vitamins and minerals, omega fatty acids, proteins, fiber, terpenes, flavonoids, and of course, cannabinoids.
When kept raw (not dried or heated), cannabinoids in the plant are found in their acid form rather than their “active” form, meaning you will not experience psychoactive effects from eating or drinking raw cannabis. Cannabinoids in their acid form, such as THCa and CBDa, provide their own unique benefits through their interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
Cannabis juice can be made at home with any type of blender. The raw leaves and even buds are first pulverized and then hand-pressed through a strainer or cheesecloth, which separates the pulp from the juice. Alternatively, a juicer can be used to add cannabis leaves to any prefered juicing blend of fruits or vegetables.
Although you can make much more potent cannabis-infused butter with the plant’s flowers, cannabis leaves, especially sugar leaves, can also be used to create cannabinoid-infused butter.
To create cannabis butter, you will need to heat your butter and leaves over low heat. This will both decarboxylate your cannabinoids and assist in their absorption into the butter. The same general technique can be used to infuse cannabinoids into oils like olive oil or coconut oil. Once the butter has been strained of the plant material and cooled, it can be spread on toast or used to create any number of cannabis-infused edibles.
Get full instructions for making cannabis butter here.
Cannabis Leaf Tea
Cannabis leaves can also be dried and used in teas. Simply add dried cannabis leaves into hot water for a soothing herbal tea. If you do not enjoy the taste of the cannabis plant by itself, you can add other herbs and botanicals for taste or to draw on the benefits of various herbs.
The psychoactive effects of drinking cannabis tea is often debated. The hot water in tea is not likely to be hot enough to cause decarboxylation.
Additionally, the resin of the cannabis plant, which is what holds cannabinoids, is fat soluble. For the cannabinoids to efficiently produce psychoactive effects, the resin needs to be dissolved into a carrier fat. One way to to do this would be to add milk to your tea.
A more effective method might be to heat dried leaves in some coconut oil. This will extract and amplify whatever cannabinoids happen to be present in the leaves. This cannabinoid-infused coconut oil can then be added to loose leaf tea and used to create tea with activated cannabinoids and a carrier fat to make them more easily absorbed by the body.
If you are growing your own cannabis at home, then there are few ways to use cannabis fan leaves better than as compost.
Composting is a great way to add the nutrients your plants need to your soil. By simply collecting your kitchen and yard waste, including leaves from your cannabis plants, you can divert as much as 30% of your household waste away from landfills and into your garden where its nutrients can help support bigger, healthier plants. Additionally, microorganisms living in compost help aerate the soil, break down organic material, and ward off plant disease.
Whether using your compost on your cannabis plants, your home garden, or both, you will be saving the nutrients in your household waste and returning them to the soil where they can provide the most benefit.
Read More About the Cannabis Plant
There is always more to learn about the cannabis plant on our Cannabis 101 page, including articles about growing at home, the types of cannabis products available, and picking the best dispensary for you.