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4 Healthy and Green Uses for Cannabis Leaves

Don’t throw away your cannabis leaves! Here are four uses for marijuana 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 marijuana 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 marijuana leaves to ensure you are getting the most out of your cannabis plant each and every harvest.

Types of Cannabis Leaves

Before diving into all the exciting ways to use cannabis leaves, let’s start with some marijuana leaf basics.

Many users ask about how many leaves the marijuana plant has. While the number of leaflets (the individual fingers of the leaf) on marijuana leaves may differ depending on the type of cannabis plant, its place in the growth cycle, and more, they will have a odd number of leaflets, with mature leaves displaying serrated edges. Usually the number of leaflets is between 7-9, but some marijuana leaves can have up to 13.

When deciding how to use cannabis leaves, it’s important to first recognize that there are two types of leaves on a cannabis plant – the fan leaf and the sugar leaf. The two types of cannabis leaves have unique features that you may find makes them more ideal for a particular use.

  • Fan Leaf : Broad marijuana leaves that shoulder most of the cannabis plant’s light gathering. Cannabis fan leaves are often recognized as the iconic symbol for cannabis. Fan leaves on indica plants are typically darker green with wider “fingers,” while sativa’s fan leaves often are lighter in color with lean, slender “fingers.” Cannabis fan leaves on hybrid cannabis strains generally feature a blend of the two. These leaves are typically trimmed during cultivation and contain low levels of cannabinoids. While they are among the most under-recognized and under-utilized parts of the cannabis plant, cannabis fan leaves are filled with flavor, resin, and phytonutrients that support wellness and health.
  • Sugar Leaf : Smaller marijuana leaves that grow close to the cannabis plant’s flowers or “buds” during the plant’s flowering stage. Often times marijuana sugar leaves are hidden, with only their tips peaking through the larger marijuana fan leaves. Marijuana sugar leaves are usually trimmed after harvest to make buds appear more appealing to consumers, either before or after drying and curing . Sugar leaves are typically coated in white, delicious trichomes as if coated with a dusting of powdered sugar, and contain higher levels of cannabinoids than fan leaves.

These two types of marijuana leaves are often discarded, but they can be very valuable for making nutritious and cannabinoid-infused beverages and edibles that you can make at home or to amend previously-used soil to grow strong and healthy plants. Here are 4 healthy and green ways to use your cannabis leaves.

Juicing Raw Cannabis 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. Raw cannabis fan and sugar leaves are great for upping the nutritional impact of green juices.

When kept fresh and raw (not dried or heated), cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are found in their acid form rather than their “active” form, meaning you will not experience psychoactive effects or a “high” from eating or drinking raw cannabis leaves. 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 cannabis 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 home juicer can be used to add marijuana leaves to any preferred juicing blend of fruits or vegetables.

Cannabis Leaf Butter

Although you can make much more potent cannabis-infused butter with the plant’s flowers, marijuana leaves, especially sugar leaves, can also be used to create cannabinoid-infused butter or cannabutter.

To create cannabis leaf 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. Try incorporating your cannabis leaf butter into baked goods like brownies, or using it to top baked potatoes or a steak at dinner for a twist on the traditional marijuana edible.

Get full instructions for making cannabis butter here .

Cannabis Leaf Tea

Marijuana leaves can also be dried and used in teas. Simply add dried marijuana leaves into hot water for a soothing cannabis 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, which “activates” THC so that it can interact with the body to cause its euphoric effects.

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 do this would be to add milk or cream to your tea.

A more effective method might be to heat dried cannabis 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.

Composting Cannabis Leaves

If you are growing your own cannabis at home, either indoors or sun grown, then there are a 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 marijuana 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 marijuana at home, the types of cannabis products available, and picking the best dispensary for you.

What can marijuana leaves be used for? What are the uses for cannabis leaves? We're here to give you some great ways to use your cannabis leaves! Click to read more!

Buds and Beauty: What Is CBD (Cannabidiol) and Why Is it in Everything?

It’s 4/20 and high time for cannabis-infused beauty. According to a recent WWD report, Google searches for “cannabidiol” (CBD) peaked in March; one of the most frequently asked questions: “What is CBD?”

This lack of general consumer awareness, coupled with lax regulations, leaves the door wide open for industry schemes and scams. So let’s get the first part out of the way:

What is CBD?

CBD is short for “cannabidiol,” and it’s a type of cannabinoid.

Cannabinoids are diverse chemical compounds found in hemp plants. There are over 80 cannabinoids found in hemp plants, according to Leafly , each with slightly different effects on the body that are still being studied. CBD is a really popular cannabinoid, and so is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the cannabinoid famous for getting people high. CBD is not THC. They are two different compounds with different effects on the body and harvested from different parts of the cannabis plant. THC is found primarily in the mature flowers of marijuana, while CBD is generally extracted from the hemp leaves, stalks and stems. (Fun fact: Not all hemp plants produce marijuana buds. Only female plants bud flowers , which are where THC is concentrated.) CBD, when isolated as a compound, will not produce any type of high for its user.

Why is CBD in so many beauty products now?

CBD gives therapeutic benefits of the cannabis plant without the psychoactive effects of THC. So if slathering on CBD lotion won’t get you stoned, then what does CBD do? Well, according to multiple studies, it does a lot . CBD oil has antioxidant properties that may protect against sun damage and ease psoriasis symptoms . But there may be other benefits to your skin.

“It’s rich in vitamins A, C and E,” dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman told DermStore . “Vitamin A stimulates the cells responsible for producing the tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy; vitamin C stimulates collagen production, and it helps to reduce signs of aging; [and] vitamin E blocks free radicals from the body [which] helps slow down the aging process.”

WWD states that beauty and fashion influencers increased their mentions of cannabis by a whopping 61 percent over the past year. The newfound interest in cannabis comes with good reason: Studies have shown evidence of CBD’s ability to also reduce inflammation when topically applied, which may benefit general health as well as beauty. Inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection, illness or injury. However, inflammation becomes a bad thing when we’re always inflamed. There is also evidence that CBD may help combat those acne breakouts that can target even grown people well past puberty. So CBD products, coupled with proper diet and wellness practices, could be one step in reducing inflammation, clearing up various skin problems and getting your Glow Up on!

What should I be warned about?

You can safely use CBD without the disorientation of feeling “high,” making it useful for all ages. It’s also versatile, with a range of wellness and beauty purposes. Sounds like a winner, hands down—but there are still many questions surrounding this booming trend.

Because this is a new industry, not all of the necessary regulations are in place yet to make sure we’re getting what we pay for. CBD is often marketed as a cosmetic or a “wellness” product; the Food and Drug Administration does not consider it to be a dietary supplement and does not evaluate the safety or purity of CBD products before they appear on the market. The agency also does not allow CBD to be marketed as a medication; in its own words, the FDA “has not approved a marketing application for cannabis for the treatment of any disease or condition.” Because CBD is in this gray, unregulated area, it’s hard to know for sure if our CBD products have enough active ingredients.

As reported by Ali Oshinsky at Into the Gloss :

Most products boasting CBD properties only list cannabis sativa oil (another name—confusingly!—for hemp seed oil) as an active ingredient. Hemp seed oil actually contains no CBD. That’s right—you heard me. For a little clarity, I called up my old team at Knox Medical and spoke to their Manufacturing and Controls Director, Nikolas. “If you do the correct collection method from pure hemp seeds, it actually has no CBD. Or, if it does it’s below the detectable level—it’s very, very low.” Pure hemp seed oil is still a nice, light, non-comedogenic oil—but not much else.

An appropriate regulatory system would give consumers the power to choose products that are genuinely worthy of their labels and claims of health benefits. We also need to know if our products have passed tests for mold (a common problem in cannabis farming), toxins , heavy metals and/or inorganic fertilizers.

And of course, any conversation on cannabis would be remiss to not mention problems within the legal system too. Prisons are overflowing with people of color put there for petty drug charges, while the legal marijuana industry is almost entirely wealthy, white, and male. To keep your cannabis consumerism ethical, consider buying black-owned products, and specifically source from companies looking to help communities of color and those affected by the war on drugs. Check out these black-owned cannabis companies leading efforts for ownership and empowerment during this post-prohibition boom.

Iyana, founder of Kush and Cute :

Iyana, who did not give her last name in her Vice interview last year, launched Kush and Cute, her cannabis skin-care product company, at the end of 2017. “There are more and more people of color rising to notoriety in the [cannabis] space, she told Vice. “But a lot of work needs to be done for it to be considered diverse and inclusive. But we are optimistic that it can be done.”

“Funding is a very hard task, especially being black—people are taking that risk on you,” Cat detailed to Bustle earlier this week. The New Orleans-based entrepreneur sells products ranging from bath salts to body oils.

Dorian Morris, founder of Undefined Beauty :

A longtime member of the cosmetics industry, Dorian Morris has worked with Coty, Sundial Brands and Kendo Brands, according to Beauty Independent . “You have these ingredients that work well individually, but when you pair them with CBD, you get pretty powerful results,” she told the site. “I feel very strongly about the democratization of beauty. Although CBD as an ingredient is extremely expensive, I wanted to make sure from a price-point standpoint [it] is very accessible so everyone has access to super efficacious formulas that don’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho, co-founder of Supernova Women :

Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho is a Stanford-educated attorney and the co-founder of Supernova Women, an organization that offers networking for women of color interested in entering the cannabis industry. Lencho also offers legal services to cannabis businesses.

Meet the Supernova Women, Trailblazers for Equity in the Cannabis Industry

Although diverse communities in cannabis are growing, for black and brown women, the old adage…

It’s 4/20 and high time for cannabis-infused beauty. According to a recent WWD report, Google searches for “cannabidiol” (CBD) peaked in March; one of the most frequently asked questions: “What is CBD?”