Dear Old Hippie: For a while now, I’ve heard rumors about the legendary Green Dragon that can get you high anywhere without smoking, yet I’ve never heard of anyone selling it. What can you tell me about this fabulous beast?
A: The Green Dragon — and his consort, The Gold Dragon — are indeed real. The reason it’s hard to buy from your typical weed dealer is that generally you must make it yourself. Medical Marijuana patients with access to well-stocked dispensaries can find such products on the shelf. So what’s the big deal about it? Read on.
You can’t just smoke anything anywhere any more, and most edibles are too strong to use on a regular basis for many people. So the appeal of the Dragons is that you carry around a discreet little brown bottle, put a dropper in your favorite drink, and you’re comfortably medicated. Consider the recent popularity of liquid-based natural sweeteners like Stevia and you’ll realize that you can safely medicate even in a restuarant with two large CHP officers watching you, as I once did.
Dropped in your drink, it will generally take effect in anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. But if you take it sublingually — under your tongue — you will feel it within 30 seconds, with the full effect coming on in 5 to 15 minutes.
Green and Gold Dragon are technically tinctures or extracts of cannabis. You’ve heard of tincture of iodine and vanilla extract? Both are made by simply soaking or dissolving the material in alcohol. That’s what we’re doing here. You may be interested to learn that Tincture of Cannabis was a standard pharmacy item in this country for far longer than it’s been illegal.
Of course, you have to use the right kind of alcohol, which is ethanol (the kind you drink). The higher the alcohol content, the more efficient the process will be, so most people use Everclear, which is available in 190 or 151 proof, depending on your state of residence. Here in California, you can get good results with the 151 proof, or visit any neighboring state for the “real stuff”. Any liquor of 90 proof or more will work, but most people prefer to use vodka or Everclear because they don’t add any additional taste of their own. You can always add some flavoring later if you want.
There are a number of non-chemical problems with using alcohol. For one thing, alcoholics can’t use it, and for another, it burns like hellfire if you put it under your tongue. If you use this method, I recommend holding your mouth open until the burn goes away, and perhaps having a drink of something else handy. This burning sensation is why some people prefer using lower-proof tinctures based on vodka, or else vegetable-based glycerin (which also solves the problem for alcoholics). My experience with glycerin-based Dragons is that they don’t work at all, but some very careful people have had good results with them.
What’s the difference between Green and Gold? Green simply uses fresh marijuana, and Gold uses marijuana that’s been decarboxylated. Green Dragon often tastes of chlorophyll and other things found in and on the plant. Decarboxylating cannabis only involves baking it in a 250°F oven for an hour, but it can make your kitchen smell like the proverbial pot party. Gold Dragon is generally stronger and tastes mellower in my experience.
You don’t even have to use your precious buds to give this stuff a try. If you have access to dried fan leaves, they will work fine for Green Dragon. AVB (Already Vaped Bud, also known as Already Been Vaped or duff) is what’s left in a vaporizer after it’s been used. Since vaporizing also decarboxylates the weed, you can use this to make Gold Dragon. Both fan leaves and AVB are often thrown away by people who don’t realize how useful they can be, so it’s an excellent example of recycling!
So here’s the safe and easy way to make it:
- Crush, crumble, or grind up your cannabis, however much you want to use. I recommend at least an 1/8 ounce.
- Put the material in a suitable size glass jar with a tight-fitting top. I use a Mason jar for larger quantities, but cleaned condiment jars (think pickles, relish, mustard) are perfect for normal use.
- Pour enough of your chosen drinkable alcohol into the jar to easily cover the cannabis.
- Close the cover, and shake it up, baby!
- Now comes the hard part: put the jar in a warm, dark place for at least a month. I’ve found that the longer you go (I try to go 8 to 10 weeks), the stronger and better it will taste, up to a point. Shake it every day for at least two weeks.
- When the time is up, simply filter it through a coffee filter to remove the dregs (and squeeze to get every last drop out).
Warmth helps the process along, and darkness (or using a dark-colored jar) protects the THC from degrading. The perfect place is in the exhaust path of a computer fan, because you’re recycling heat. If you have a completely opaque jar, it’s also cool to leave it in a sunny window for free solar power.
When you try it, start with 1/4 dropper under your tongue. Wait 15 minutes, and if it’s not strong enough, try another 1/4 dropper, and so on until you feel it. You’ll quickly figure out your own correct dosage. If the liquid isn’t dark, or it takes more than a dropper to feel results, it might be too diluted. In that case, leave the jar open overnight so some of the alcohol will evaporate, and try again.
As you can see, this isn’t all that hard to do. Actually, the most difficult part might be next: finding a 1 to 4-ounce, dark-colored glass dropper bottle to carry your Dragon around in. You may have to make the rounds of drug stores, or recycle a bottle of Stevia, but you have a month to do it!
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