Marijuana leaves are an often overlooked part of the cannabis plant. As a part of the enormous volume of trim that collects with each harvest, some growers don’t want to deal with the leaves because they’re unsure of what to do with them.
However, it would be such a waste to just throw them in the trash, as marijuana leaves can be used in a variety of ways, which is what we cover in this article. Keep reading to learn some ways you can use your leftover trim.
Believe It or Not, Raw Cannabis Leaves Are Very Nutritious
The marijuana plant is not only special because of its cannabinoid and terpene content, but also because it contains many phytonutrients, such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Additionally, the precursors of THC and CBD, THCA and CBDA, respectively, both have incredible anti-inflammatory properties.
There are two types of cannabis leaves – the fan leaves and the sugar leaves. The fan leaves are the larger ones, like the famous marijuana leaf emblem we see everywhere. They’re important parts of the cannabis plant because their primary function is photosynthesis. The other type of leaves is the sugar leaves, which are the frosty small leaves you see close to the buds.
Whichever Indica or Sativa you consume, know that you can’t go wrong if you save the leaves for other uses.
But Can They Get Me High, Though?
Cannabis leaves do contain cannabinoids, just not as much as the cannabis flowers as they’re not laden with trichomes that produce cannabinoids. Sugar leaves contain larger CBD and THC content than the fan leaves because they’re closer to the buds.
That said, they can get you high, unless your weed tolerance is really high. Even then, you might get some light effects that may not be fully psychoactive, but you’ll probably feel more relaxed. In all other cases, though, marijuana leaves can be quite adequate, especially for users with lower tolerance.
What To Do With Marijuana Leaves
There are so many versatile ways you can utilize marijuana leaves, whether fan leaves or sugar leaves. Some of the ideas we included below call for raw leaves, while others require you to decarboxylate the leaves prior to use in order to activate the cannabinoids. The decarboxylation process is fairly simple, you can find our easy-to-follow guide here.
Use the Cannabis Fan Leaves for Juicing
Obviously, since cannabis leaves are so nutritious, you should definitely try juicing them. They do contain large amounts of chlorophyll, so if you’re worried about your smoothie tasting grassy, you can just use bananas – it works every single time. Adding some ginger, mint leaves, and berries will not only mask the flavor well, but it’ll also make for a delicious and nutritious drink. Just try it for yourself and you’ll see!
Use Cannabis Fan Leaves for Composting
Composting your leftover marijuana leaves is a great way to recycle them. Since they contain so many nutrients, adding them to your leftover food scraps will enrich your soil and contribute to getting healthy plants as a grower. Of course, you can use cannabis leaves as compost for other plants, too.
Make Cannabis a Tincture
You can easily make a cannabis tincture with cannabis leaves. Tinctures are great because they can be taken sublingually or orally, or even added to various foods and drinks. It’s also incredibly easy to make a tincture.
All you need is the plant matter and some high-proof grain alcohol to make the extraction. Please note that you should exclusively use food-grade alcohol. Avoid rubbing alcohol at all costs as it’s not intended for human consumption.
So, to make a cannabis tincture, you’ll need 14 g decarboxylated cannabis leaves and 8 oz high-proof grain alcohol (over 180 is best, like Everclear).
- Put the leaves in a man jar and saturate them with alcohol, but don’t add too much;
- Shake the jar and leave it in a cool and dark place for 24 hours. This will give the alcohol enough time to fully extract the cannabinoids;
- Strain the tincture and pour it into a dropper bottle for easy dosing;
- Leave the lid open for 2-3 days to evaporate some of the alcohol, or about a week to evaporate all of the alcohol and end up with a super strong cannabis concentration.
Make Your Own Cannabis Topical
If you haven’t tried cannabis topicals before, it’s high time you did. They can immediately help soothe your sore muscles after the gym or soothe an eczema bout. Topicals are easy to make, but you will need to spare a couple of hours. We included an easy recipe for a cannabis salve made with beeswax and a blend of coconut and olive oil.
- 7-10 grams decarboxylated cannabis leaves
- 1 1/2 cups coconut oil
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup beeswax pastilles
- Storage container
- Essential oil (optional)
- First, you’ll need to infuse the coconut oil with the decarboxylated cannabis leaves. The best way to do this is to combine the plant material with the oil in a slow cooker, but you can also do it on the stove on low heat. You can check our guide for more details here;
- Once the coconut oil infusion is done, melt the beeswax in a heavy-bottomed pan on low heat or a slow cooker;
- Add the infused coconut oil, the olive oil, and a few drops of the essential oil if you’re using one. Stir well to combine;
- Keep it on low heat for an hour while stirring frequently;
- When it’s done, leave it to cool a little and then pour it into the container of your choice. As it continues to cool, it will harden and be ready to use.
Make Bhang Drink, a Traditional Indian Recipe
This is one cannabis product you won’t find in any dispensary and you can make it with cannabis flowers as well as cannabis leaves – fan leaves, sugar leaves, whatever you have on hand. It’s a traditional Indian drink used for millennia for its health benefits. The popularity of Bhang has not waned as it’s often included in traditional Hindu religious practices and festivals even today.
To make this delicious treat, you’ll need:
- 1/2 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
- Spices (cardamom, fennel, ginger, and anise)
- 2 cups full-fat milk or one can of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup marijuana leaves
- Turn on the stove on medium heat and put the coconut oil in a saucepan;
- Add the spices, 1/2 teaspoon of each, and fry them until fragrant;
- Turn the heat down and add the milk, and stir well;
- Add the marijuana leaves and stir;
- Let the mixture simmer for 30 minutes while you stir often. If it condenses down, add some more to maintain the same amount of liquid;
- Strain the drink with a strainer or a cheesecloth;
- Finally, add a splash of rosewater, if you have it, and sweeten it with jaggery sugar, or honey/maple syrup, and enjoy your Bhang!
Try Cannabis Tea, a Mild Beverage
Cannabis tea is warming a comforting drink that will give you a mild buzz, just enough to relax you and maybe even help your headache. However, making cannabis tea is more than just adding hot water to the cannabis leaves, so if you’d like to try it, you can check out our recipe.
Make Some Marijuana Edibles
Edibles are pretty self-explanatory, but did you know that you don’t have to use just cannabis flowers to make them? Making edibles with marijuana leaves may not be as potent, but they can still produce some mild psychoactive effects. In fact, some users even prefer the milder effects because edibles can be pretty potent.
Cannabutter and cannabis oil are the most versatile weed edibles that you can use in a number of ways, and then there are, of course, the ever-popular magic brownies that you can make from scratch or with a brownie mix.
The Takeaway – Save the Leaves
Cannabis leaves are more valuable than you think and you will realize this if you save them and use them to make something. From edibles and beverages to topicals to tinctures, they’re very versatile, but if you’re too lazy to dedicate a few hours to DIY projects, just use them as compost or juice them. The benefits are all the same.