Frankenstein oil capsule Copyright 2015

Making Frankenstein Oil With the Magical Butter Machine

My dear wife Felicity has been having more than the usual amount of trouble sleeping lately. Although her daytime cannabinoid requirements have not changed (one or two capsules still get her through the day), she’s been needing higher doses at night due to higher amounts of stress. Since we generally make our capsules fairly “light”, this means she’s been gulping 4 or 5 at a time, though spread out among strains. A few times, she’s had to use some of our rare and specialized Black Mamba capsules (those will be a story themselves one fine day).

So I decided to look around the cupboard to see what I had in stock. I found a jar of coconut oil that had been infused with some LA Confidential strain when I was putting the Magical Butter Machine through testing. Although the contents of this jar would make lots more usable capsules, I wanted to see if I could increase the strength of what was in there by processing it again and adding some more cannabis. I rummaged around some more and located a jar of tincture I had once made from LA Confidential. Eureka!

I carefully poured out the liquid tincture and now had quite a large handful of somewhat damp marijuana. Even though a certain amount of THC had been dissolved into the alcohol and now was in the tincture, that much weed added to the oil should be enough to make it much stronger…and it was the same strain too!

Alas, it was too good to be true. While my logic was impeccable, there was only one cup of oil in the jar, and as everyone knows, the Magical Butter Machine needs two to tango. What to do?

I went more carefully through my goodies drawer. I found 1/4 ounce of Mr. Nice, 1/8 ounce of Afgoo, a gram of really hard GDP hash, the few odd grams of Skywalker, and even a half-eighth of OG Kush. You know. The usual.

But it was all indica, or at least indica-leaning hybrid…just what Felicity needed.

So I threw it all into the Magical Butter Machine, after first melting the coconut oil in the microwave (and adding another cup of fresh coconut oil, of course). For the hash, I cut it into little pieces with a paring knife, and crushed the pieces as much as possible. Then I had a bit of a heating problem to figure out.

Some Like It Hot…But How Hot?

See, I had two competing desires here. The marijuana from the tincture was damp due to the alcohol all over it, and I wanted that to evaporate. It’s drinkable ethanol (Everclear), of course, but Felicity is now sensitive to alcohol, and besides we might want to cook with some of this oil. Alcohol boils at around 170°F. As I’ve mentioned many times, you must decarboxylate your cannabis before cooking, which takes temperatures anywhere from 200°F to 315°F. But heating ethanol to those temperatures could create flammable alcohol vapors to come out of the non-sealed MBM at high pressure…not my idea of a safe scenario for the kitchen!

Here’s what I did. First, I set the MBM to 160°F for an hour. Even though we don’t know much about the internal workings or processes in the MBM, we do know that 160° shouldn’t cause the alcohol to get too hot. But I’m cautious, so I stuck around and paid attention.

The MBM program starts off by heating the mixture, presumably to melt anything that’s still solid in there (for instance, when you make butter, you can just throw sticks of butter in, although you’re probably better off melting them in advance). After a few minutes, I saw quite a bit of white alcohol vapor coming out from under the top of the MBM. I’d expect some of that, but I heard some rather frenetic boiling, so I unplugged the MBM at the outlet (do not just take the top off, because that could cause a spark when you break the electrical connection) and checked things out. The contents were boiling merrily, and my laser infrared thermometer claimed the liquid was around 145°F. I put it back together, plugged it in with the same settings, and ran it again for awhile. Same thing happened, and then I repeated it a third time.

The third time, I heard no more boiling, so I let the Magical Butter Machine continue running its one-hour program at 160°F. Done! But I still wasn’t finished, so like I’ve told people before, I ran another hour at 220°F to decarboxylate the mixture. When that was done, I thought some more.

How Do You Know It’s Decarbed?

From getting lots of reader responses on the previous MBM articles, I knew that the newer versions of the Magical Butter Machine have a decarb setting, but they still recommend decarboxylating separately. I wanted to make sure this was strong enough, especially because we aren’t adding lecithin anymore due to health concerns, so I wanted to make sure this mix was fully decarboxylated. So I had one final idea.

I know that decarboxylating cannabis gives off carbon dioxide as well as boiling off residual moisture, and I was aware that some good folks up in Oregon talked about seeing it happen directly in oil, so I decided to give it a shot. I turned up the temperature all the way to 250°F, and set it for one hour.

But I was thinking way outside the box here. I convinced myself that my own brain was way more powerful than the microprocessor inside the MBM, and I had decided to be in control of things. So I set the handy-dandy timer on my phone to 7 minutes (a wild guess based on published decarb times of around 21 minutes at 250°F and easily divisible into 3 periods), and when the time was up…I simply unplugged the MBM. If I could do it in an emergency, I could certainly do it at my own convenience!

I took the top off, and bubbles were merrily coming to the surface. But this time the liquid was not boiling. The ethanol had long since evaporated, of course, and there was no water in there, only oil, and we were a good 100 degrees below the smoke point of coconut oil. What I was seeing was either residual moisture from the cannabis, or carbon dioxide, or both. Since I don’t have a $250K gas sampling apparatus laying around, I didn’t care which, so I put it back in for another 7 minutes at 250°F, and after that there were no bubbles. So I concluded that, at this point, everything was finally and properly decarboxylated.

I gave Felicity about a capsule’s worth of this stuff (which got her to sleep just fine, BTW), and she made up about 100 capsules herself while waiting for it to kick in. It’s much darker and stronger than the original oil, and because it was made from recycled “spare parts”, I think I’m going to call it…Frankenstein Oil.


Yet Another Out-Of-Context Obama Quote

Today, President Obama made a stirring plea to the Supreme Court, quoted here on Twitter:

The only “gotcha” is that he was speaking about legal same-sex marriage, not cannabis. But a majority of the American people now support legal cannabis — and that becomes a huge majority when we’re talking about medical marijuana — so when is the entire Federal government going to recognize what this majority already understands?

Perhaps on February 5, when US District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is expected to hear final arguments in a case that might just take “marihuana” off Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act for good. And believe me…that would be good!

Governor Mario Cuomo

Mario Cuomo Leaves Us With a Great Quote

Governor Mario Cuomo

Governor Mario Cuomo

Mario Cuomo, three-term former governor of New York, died today. Because NY state governors are sworn in on New Year’s Day, it was the same day his son, Andrew Cuomo, was sworn in for his second term as governor.

But I’m writing here about this extraordinary quote I found in an article about him:

“Given recent attitudes, it would be a prohibition revisited, legislating what couldn’t be enforced, and creating a disrespect for law in general.”

He was actually talking about the possible prohibition of legal abortion at the time, but clearly it’s also a very astute observation about prohibition in general and cannabis in particular!


ProTip: Get Your Emerald Cup Tickets in Advance

Last year, Felicity and I went to our first Emerald Cup and we loved it. It’s a different vibe than the High Times events; a lot more cultivation-oriented, lots of good medical information, and plenty of music! In fact, we kind of pooped out afterwards because we overdid it. This year, we’re staying overnight to give ourselves more time and breathing room, and hoping to come back with a lot of coverage, words and pictures…everything but the smoke!

What we can tell you now is that there are usually long lines to buy tickets, so we recommend buying tickets online because there’s nothing worse than finally getting there and then having to wait on line for 45 minutes just to get in. Once you do get in, there will be hundreds of vendor booths, plus awesome panelists and workshops, and did we mention plenty of music?

Why: Celebrating 11 years as California’s preeminent, outdoor, organic, medicinal cannabis competition. This year we’ve expanded to include more organic food options, over 200 great vendors, additional contests, speakers leading discussion panels including topics on medical applications of cannabis, how to grow organically and sustainably, cutting-edge science and testing, politics and activism, hands-on workshops led by leaders in our cannabis culture, PLUS the highly anticipated awards ceremony and so much more. Musical performances by Slightly Stoopid, Nahko and Medicine for the People, Stick Figure, Thrive, and HIRIE with Speaker appearances by Jeffrey Lowenfels, Jorge Cervantes, Doug Fine and more to be announced.

Where: Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

When: Saturday & Sunday, December 13th & 14th, 2014; doors 11:30am to 10:00pm

DIY Mini-Bong or Vape Pen Bubbler

DIY $3.50 Mini-Bong Vape Pen Bubbler

People use bongs (aka water pipes) because they cool off the smoke and make it easier on your throat and lungs. Bongs work amazingly well with vapor too, but you hardly need a large or expensive bong for the amount that comes out of a vape pen. I came up with this design for my wife Felicity. Felicity has allergies and lung problems and can absolutely not smoke, but occasionally needs a quick hit of indica for panic attacks. She’s used my vape pens (with good CO2 oil and wax only!) but is always concerned about coughing. So, after running all over the place looking for the diamond-studded hole saw I bought for my somewhat-epic “How To Make Your Own Bong” article, I was finally able to put this all together. The balsamic vinegar was even on sale, so the parts for one cost less than $4!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • About 6″ (or 15 centipedes) of thick hose that snugly fits the mouthpiece of any vape pen you happen to have. I just happen to have two very common ones and a piece of 3/8″ ID air hose happened to fit them both. Take your clean mouthpieces (by themselves, if possible, to avoid embarrassing questions, which you could always answer with “science project”) down to your local hardware store to find the right hose. The stuff I got was $0.99/foot, the minimum they will sell you.
  • A diamond-tipped hole saw that will fit the OD (outside diameter) of the hose you bought. It will probably be around 5/8″, so here’s a random listing on Ebay selling them for less than $3 apiece.
  • Star brand balsamic vinegar. The tiny (250 ml.) bottle I bought is the perfect size for use with a vape pen or for stealth, but they have larger (and more stable) sizes available if you want to actually smoke out of it.

The steps are fairly simple:

  1. Open the bottle, pry off the plastic insert that lets the vinegar flow smoothly onto your salad, and pour the contents into another bottle (it’s food, don’t waste it!). Recycle the cap and the insert.
  2. Fill the bottle with cold water, and then drill the hole using a battery-powered drill at high speed using eye protection on a plain portion of the upper surface (away from the embossed logos) so that the hose will end up at about a 45° angle. Use the safety instructions I wrote up here!
  3. Wash out the bottle carefully and remove all the glass powder and etc.
  4. Stick the hose in the bottle. If it’s not a tight fit, wrap it with some electrical (or better: silicone repair) tape until it stays in nicely.
  5. Now fill it with water up to the hole, stick your vape pen in the end, hit the button, and inhale!
  6. If you’re a smoker and not a vaper, I recommend a 3/4″ hole, a grommet to fit, and a 14mm downstem that nicely fits your bottle of choice. But in an emergency, you could stick the proverbial trumpet mouthpiece in/over the end.

So of course I gave Felicity the first shot at this thing. She took a huge hit and didn’t cough at all. Then I took a huge hit and only coughed twice, but I didn’t really even feel the vapor in my throat the way I usually do. Such a big hit usually triggers a full-on coughing fit for me, so I think it was quite a success!