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Cannabis 101

Cannabis tinctures: What they are and how to use them

01.04.22 - 4 min read


  • Cannabis tinctures, a form of concentrated cannabis infused in alcohol, glycerin, or a plant-based oil  
  • Tinctures have been used for hundreds of years (perhaps even thousands) for medicinal purposes 
  • Tinctures are ingested either in their liquid form or mixed in food or beverages 
  • Cannabis tinctures can contain THC, CBD, or both 
  • You can easily make tinctures at home using everyday materials 

What is a cannabis tincture? 

When it comes to cannabis consumption, there’s no shortage of methods to choose from. While popular options include flower, vapes, edibles, etc., interest in cannabis tinctures is on the rise. 

If you’re wondering exactly what cannabis tinctures are, here’s a quick definition: cannabis-infused extracts made with either alcohol, glycerin, or any plant-based oil. As far as onset time and length of effects go, cannabis tinctures generally sit in the middle between smoking/vaping and edibles. They tend to act within 15-30 minutes of ingestion and peak at about 90 minutes when used sublingually. [Source]  

For some, cannabis tinctures will serve as a perfect entry point to the cannabis world. They’re also a great option for those who would prefer to have more dosage control when they use cannabis (no smoking required). A few more reasons tinctures are growing in popularity? They’re easy to store, consume and dose (oh by the way, they’re also rather discreet.) 

Ready to learn more? Read on to explore the history of tinctures, how to make and use cannabis tinctures, how to choose the right product for you, and how to dose appropriately.  

A brief history of cannabis tinctures 

The history of tinctures, in general, dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt, when alcohol was first made via distillation. Egyptians discovered that they could preserve the medicinal properties of plants if they let them sit in alcohol for a number of weeks.  

Over the years, pharmacists and physicians have prescribed tinctures to treat a wide range physical ailments. In the twentieth century, cannabis tinctures were available commercially, and apothecaries made their own as well—in fact, they were included in the U.S. Pharmacopeia until 1942 after a drastic law passed in 1937 made cannabis much more expensive to grow. Other pressures on the medicinal cannabis industry at the time, including pharmaceutical discoveries in painkillers and synthetic hypnotics, also contributed to the disappearance of medical cannabis tinctures as a basic medicine in the 20th century. 

Ultimately, the legalization movement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries made tinctures available to everyone who lives in an area where cannabis is legal.  

THC vs CBD tinctures 

When it comes to cannabis products, the key question to ask yourself is “THC, CBD or both?”  

A little refresher:  

  • THC is the cannabis compound highly associated with the euphoric effects of cannabis.  
  • CBD is the less psychoactive compound that is more valued for its medicinal potential. 

Cannabis tinctures canalmost exclusively contain one or the other, and some contain a balanced mix of the two. As with any method of using cannabis, finding out what’s right for you typically takes some experimentation.  

Ready to dive into these tincture categories? Read on for some insights. 

THC Tinctures 

A THC tincture is a cannabis extract that contains dominantly Tetrahydrocannabinol.  

In the United States, any cannabis-derived tincture with more than 0.3% of THC contents can only be sold in states that have legalized cannabis, as THC consumption is considered to fall on the “adult use” side of the equation.  [Source] 

The percentage of THC on the tincture label will typically indicate how strong the THC effect will be once consumed. 

CBD Tincture 

A CBD tincture is a tincture product that contains mostly CBD (with less than 0.3% of THC). CBD is mostly used for its ability to support inflammation suppression and may not produce a euphoric effect like THC. [Source] 

Mixed Tinctures 

Commercial tinctures can also offer mixed tinctures at different ratios (1:1 being the same amount of CBD and THC). The amount of THC and CBD in your tincture depends on various factors, including the type of strain used. 

What are Cannabinoids

Benefits of cannabis tinctures 

Cannabis tinctures have their fair share of benefits, including: 

  • Easy to use 
  • Easy to store 
  • Easy to dose 
  • No strong odor 
  • Discreet 
  • Can be mixed in food or beverages 

Think of these tinctures a bit like vanilla extract—a small dose goes a long way because it is concentrated.  

How to make cannabis tinctures 

Interested in creating your own cannabis tinctures? We’ll provide you with the basic ingredients and steps to make it happen. 

What you’ll need: 

  • Cannabis flowers 
  • Distilled alcohol (at least 40% alcohol by volume) or plant-based oil 
  • A grinder 
  • Cheesecloth 
  • Glass jars (such as mason jars) 
  • Dropper bottles 
  • Cookie sheet or pan 
  • Aluminum foil 
  • Glass measuring cup 
  • Gloves 


  • The first step is to make decarbed (decarboxylated) cannabis. This activates the compounds in the plant.  
    • Preheat your oven at 220 – 240 degrees F.  
    • Grind the plant in small bits, spread out evenly on the sheet and cover with aluminum foil.  
    • Once the oven is ready, bake your plant for 1 hour and 50 minutes. 
  • Once heated, put the plant material in your glass jar and pour the alcohol or oil until all the cannabis is submerged.  
  • You can leave it as is at room temperature or put it in the freezer for more effective separation of less desirable compounds, like chlorophyll.  
  • Give the jar a good shake every day for at least two weeks.  
  • Once the extract is complete, strain the plant material out of the liquid.  
    • Use the cheesecloth and gloves to pour from the original jar into a large glass measuring cup.  
    • Make sure you squeeze all the liquid out of the cheesecloth while wearing your gloves.  
  • Finally, pour the liquid from the glass measuring cup back into a clean mason jar. 
  • Pour some into a dropper bottle for easy dosing and dispensing.  
  • Keep the mason jar and dropper in a dark, cool place. 

How to use cannabis tinctures 

Cannabis tinctures can be taken in a variety of ways. First of all, they can be consumed as is, with drops under the tongue.  

If you consider yourself a cannabis chef (amateurs welcome!), cannabis tinctures are perfect for use in beverages and food. As mentioned above, a tincture can be used like vanilla extract. That means you can add it to cookies, brownies, muffins, smoothies, homemade ice creams…the list goes on. Please make sure these are stored in a safe space where only you have access.  

We recommend starting with a small dose to test the taste and strength of your cannabis cooking and adjust accordingly as you continue to experiment.  

Can you smoke a cannabis tincture? 

Simply put, no. Do not smoke a tincture. (They’re made to be ingested or used sublingually.)  

What is the Entourage Effect?
What is the Entourage Effect?

How to dose cannabis tinctures 

Cannabis tinctures are also especially easy to dose. If buying a commercial tincture bottle, you’ll usually know how much THC and/or CBD is contained in one milliliter of tincture by dividing the total cannabis contents by the volume of the bottle. If you already know your tolerance, you can measure and take the ideal dose using the dropper.  

How to store cannabis tinctures 

Now that you know how to make cannabis tinctures, how to use and dose them, you’ll want to be able to store them for later use. If making your own tinctures, you can keep the finished product in a glass jar placed in a dark, cool place. Pour some tincture in a dropper bottle when needed. Remember to keep the dropper bottle in a dark and cool place also. 

How to choose the right tincture 

Ready to choose the right tincture for you—or the right cannabis flower to make your own? Here are a few things to consider. First, you can choose tinctures according to cannabinoid content: 

  • THC tinctures 
  • CBD tinctures 
  • Mixed tinctures 

CBD tincture options include: 

  • Full Spectrum CBD: Contains various terpenes and cannabinoids, including THC. 
  • Broad Spectrum CBDContains various terpenes and cannabinoids, excluding THC. 
  • Isolate CBD: Features pure CBD. 

You can also choose your tincture according to the base strain: 

  • Sativa-dominant 
  • Indica-dominant 
  • Hybrid (a mix of sativa and indica strains) 

Consider what kind of experience you are seeking from your tincture to help you choose the right one.  

A few things to think about before trying tinctures: 

  • Potency – the percentage of THC and/or CBD 
  • Cannabinoid profile – what other cannabinoids are present (CBN, CBG, etc.) 
  • Certificates of analysis or COAs –  This is a verification showing that an unbiased laboratory has tested the product. A COA contains the information about: 
    • Potency info 
    • Cannabinoid content 
    • Terpene content 
    • Safety test information 

So, what can you expect from using tinctures? 

Our number one piece of advice for cannabis tincture newbies: start low, go slow! Remember that the effects of the tincture will typically kick in after about 15-30 minutes, but it can take as long as 45 minutes. (In other words, if you feel no effects after 15 minutes, just be patient!) 

Tinctures may not be as well-known (yet!) as other forms of cannabis intake like smoking, vaping and edibles. But if you’re looking for an easy, discreet, and flexible way to consume your cannabis, tinctures might be right up your alley. 

Have questions about where to start with tinctures? We’d love to chat! Patient care specialists at your local RISE dispensary can help you choose the right product for your individual needs. 


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