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Weed stems: here's what you should (and shouldn't) do with them

Weed stems: here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) do with them

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They supported your buds all the way to harvest, but when it’s time to smoke, for most of us it’s no stems, no seeds, no exceptions. Stems don’t need to bring you down, though, and if you grow your own herb, here are some things you can do with the stems you don’t just throw in the compost. 

Can you smoke weed stems?

Yes, you can smoke weed stems. You can also smoke pencil shavings, that doesn’t mean that you should. 

Weed stems are more fibrous than the buds of the plant, so they’ll burn hotter and produce a harsher smoke that can also give you a headache. That wouldn’t matter too much if there was enough THC in the stems, but unlike the buds, there simply isn’t that much THC at all, meaning you’ll give yourself a harsh smoke for no good reason. 

Can you eat weed stems?

Yes, you can eat weed stems, but it wouldn’t taste very good and it wouldn’t get you very high.

The stems contain very little THC, so you would need to chew a large amount (probably several grams) of weed stems, which could be a great source of fiber but not a great way to get high. Besides, you would also need to decarboxylate the stems first. 

A pile of collected cannabis stems
Yes, you can smoke weed stems. You can also smoke pencil shavings, that doesn’t mean that you should. (Shutterstock)

Can you get high off weed stems? How to extract THC from stems  

Long before your friends and coworkers all had their favorite gummies brand, people across the world were using the flowers and leaves of cannabis to make hash. Be it Nepalese “temple ball hash,” black Indian “charas,” or sweet golden brown Moroccan hash, the same principles apply — use your hands and some basic tools to to remove the dry, THC-containing trichomes (also known as “kief”) from the flowers and leaves of the plants, and press it into hash. 

But what if all you have are stems? While today’s cannabis flower very often contains more than 25% THC, with weed stems it’s been measured at just 0.03%. 

This means you may need to get creative. 

You can make “bubble hash” just like you would with cannabis flower or “sugar leaves” (the leaves that protrude from or surround the buds and have a healthy dusting of trichomes), though you may want to repeat the process one or two times to make sure you extract enough kief to make hash. 

Traditional charas is made by rubbing live flowers and leaves between your hands and scraping off the resin. With stems, you can use the same method, though you will need much, much more plant material to get enough resin. This is a method that would work best for growers who may have a few ounces or more of stems just lying around. 

Finally, you can pull the kief off the stems just like you would with flower or sugar leaves. Simply freeze the stems and then shake them repeatedly over a large, clean tray. Scoop up whatever kief falls off, and then scrape it together with a card. 

Make tea with weed stems

Arguably the most surefire way to use stems is to make some tea. First, grind up a few grams (or around one tablespoon) of stems and then decarboxylate them in the oven. Take them out of the oven and put them in tea bags or a tied-up coffee filter and steep for about 7-10 minutes. You’ll want to add some honey or sweetener to mask the flavor.

Using a dropper to put a CBD tincture into a mug of tea
Using a dropper to put a a cannabis tincture into a mug of tea (Shutterstock)

Make edibles with weed stems 

Weed stems can be used to make edibles if you first use them in a cannabutter recipe. Keep in mind though, it won’t be nearly as potent as cannabutter made with cannabis flower. 

To make cannabutter with weed stems, melt about a cup of butter (225 grams) in a saucepan and add a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Add around 20 grams (or whatever you have) of ground, decarboxylated weed stems and continue to simmer for about 3-4 hours, stirring frequently. Take it off the heat, let it cool, and then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth into a container and refrigerate it until the butter hardens. If there is excess water that has separated from the butter in the container, feel free to toss it out. 

With this new batch of cannnabutter you can whip up all types of cannabis edibles, just keep in mind it won’t be anywhere near as potent as butter made with cannabis flower. 

Make a tincture

Cannabis tinctures can be a great way to get high and allow for precision dosing. If you have enough decarboxylated weed stems, you can make your own tincture in no time. 

Take this simple tincture recipe, and replace the cannabis flower with decarboxylated stems. Because stems have far less THC than flower, consider doubling the amount of stems than the 3.5 grams of flower the recipe calls for. You may also want to let the mixture sit in the jar longer. 

With tinctures in hand, you can try a few drops and gauge their effect until you figure out the dose that’s just right for you. Also, you can use the tincture to make a whole lot of other recipes, including cannabis candies

Can you make a cocktail with weed stems?

Decarboxylated weed flowers or stems can be used to infuse alcohol directly in order to make cannabis liquors to serve as the base of all types of stony cocktails

Or, you can make things a lot easier by preparing a cocktail as you normally would, and then adding in a few drops of the weed stems tincture. 

Also — and hear us out — you could fix a standard martini and use a long weed stem to spear some olives and stir the drink. It won’t get you high but you do have an instant conversation starter. 

Make a DIY pipe screen 

If you’re using a glass pipe then you’re probably just fine without a screen for your bowl. But if you only have finely ground flower or you just like to use a screen and you’re fresh out, you can use a stem to fashion a little hashtag-esque screen for your bowl. 

Make an art project 

Searching “weed stems” on Etsy doesn’t turn up a whole lot, but don’t be discouraged. If you’re the artsy type or you just like to make stuff with your hands, you might want to keep some of those stems for your art supplies box. A weed stems dreamcatcher to hang above the bed? A “Live, Love, Laugh” plaque made of weed stems for your kitchen? We’ve all seen worse. 

Make a hemp wick 

Hemp wicks are a great solution for anyone who likes hitting pipes or bongs but wants to avoid inhaling any butane from the lighter. To make your own DIY stem wick, take a knife and cut a long weed stem into a few different strands and then twist them together until it forms a rope. Then dip the rope in beeswax and let it dry.

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