• Jennifer Betz

A Guide to Tinctures in Virginia: What Can You Find in Dispensaries and Other Questions Answered


Using tinctures in VA

Check out this helpful guide to learn everything you need to know about tinctures in Virginia


With all the exciting cannabis-related developments in Virginia, there are still lots of questions surrounding what’s legal and what’s available at dispensaries in the Commonwealth. Virginia Marijuana Card is here to answer your questions, and help you get access to the natural relief you deserve!


In this post, we are going to take a look at tinctures. Tinctures are an excellent format for therapeutic cannabis because they are versatile and allow ultimate dosing accuracy. They are discreet and easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and they are generally less expensive than edibles.


Let’s first clarify what a tincture is, then we’ll take a look at your choices for tinctures in Virginia, before we answer some of the most common questions. By the time you are done reading this post, you’ll feel like a pro!


What is a Tincture?

The traditional way of making a tincture is through alcohol extraction, but the term “tincture” has become a catch-all for several different types of products that come in a bottle with a dropper. The main formulas, however, are alcohol-based and oil-based. They each facilitate a different up-front experience, but their overall effects are pretty similar. Any differences are pretty subjective.


Most of what you’ll find at Virginia dispensaries are extracts suspended in an oil, but we thought we would also cover the alcohol extraction method as well. Starting on July 1, 2021, you can grow your own marijuana plants, which means you’ll be able to make your own tinctures as well. Alcohol extraction may take a long time, but it is one of the easiest things to make with your harvest.


Moonshine and Cannabis: Alcohol-Extraction

Tinctures are as old as Appalachia. If your family is from Virginia, your great-grandmother probably had her own special recipe cure-all tincture that she kept to fix a cough, rub on a sprain, and soothe poison ivy all in one.


They’ve traditionally been made by using an alcohol solvent to extract the healing elements of the chosen herb or blend of herbs, and it is no different with cannabis. Making tinctures at home can be as simple as putting your buds into a mason jar with some Everclear (or moonshine), then giving them a good shake every once in a while.


When you’re making your own tinctures this way, the hardest part is waiting. It can take around three months or so to get a good, potent tincture in this manner. You can use heat to speed up the process, but we recommend leaving that to commercial facilities because the vapors from high-proof alcohol are extremely flammable. Heating the alcohol—especially over an open flame—could cause an explosion.


One of the reasons oil-based products are more popular is that alcohol-extracted tinctures have a strong, bitter flavor that may burn if you take your dose sublingually. However, some people say that these kinds of tinctures absorb and begin to take effect faster than tinctures suspended in oil.


Oil and Cannabis is Better Than Oil and Water, We Promise

Many cannabis processors suspend a finished cannabis extract in carrier oil that makes the active ingredients more bioavailable, after using one or more of a variety of extraction methods. They may use heat, pressure, and solvents in order to get the active ingredients that will ultimately go into the tincture.


The result is what many consider a more pleasant experience. Most companies use coconut oil (also known as MCT oil) as the base, but some may use olive, grapeseed, or hempseed oil. The type of oil may affect the bioavailability of the cannabinoids in your tincture, but the chosen medium ultimately comes down to cost and preference.


How Should You Take a Tincture?

The way you take a tincture can vary depending on your needs, your preference, or even your mood. Everyone is different and there are a number of factors that will influence the way your tincture affects you.


One of the best ways to keep track of your progress is with a cannabis journal. Using one may help you identify patterns and understand how each mode of dosing makes you feel.


Drop and Swallow

The simplest way to take your tincture is to squeeze a dropperful into your mouth and swallow. This will result in more of an effect similar to that of taking an edible, because your body processes the THC and CBD through your digestive system.


Add Tinctures to Your Favorite Recipe

Adding a dropperful of cannabis tincture to your favorite recipe is about the easiest and most convenient way to get your tincture in for the day. Some people love to squeeze a dropper into their morning coffee, others prefer to stick it in their nightcap to wind down for the day. You can even use tinctures to make your own edibles at home!


Taking Tinctures Sublingually

The sublingual dosing method allows the active compounds in your tincture to absorb directly into your bloodstream rather than processing through your digestive system. To do this, you just put a dropperful under your tongue and hold it there for about 60 seconds, until the tincture absorbs. This may sting a little if you are using an alcohol-based product.


What Does Taking A Tincture Feel Like?

The problem with telling someone what they will feel like when they take a tincture is that everyone’s body is different. Your metabolism, your genetics, your hormonal cycle, and your diet are all major determinants of what you experience.


That being said, tinctures are great for helping you relax, and a high-quality tincture leads to a clean effect that does not feel “sloppy.” They are generally preferred by people who are using medical marijuana for pain, because the effects are felt mostly in the body, rather than having a strong “heady” effect.


Factors that influence the effects of a tincture:

  • THC content

  • CBD content

  • What you ate before you took your dose

  • What you eat after

  • Your mood when you take your dose

  • Level of physical activity

How Long Does it Take to Feel the Effects of Tinctures?

The method of delivery will directly affect the amount of time it takes to start feeling the results. It’s generally a good idea to make sure you’ve got several hours free before trying a new cannabis product, but anything ingested should be reserved for the weekend when trying it for the first time.


Once you know what it feels like, check out our guide to taking medical marijuana when you have things to do in order to tackle your to-do list while feeling your best.


Swallowing or Mixing Tinctures Into Your Food

This is essentially the same as taking an edible. It generally takes between 30 minutes and 2 hours to take full effect, and we recommend waiting the full two hours before taking more if you are new to tinctures. You can always take more, but you can’t take less once you’ve already swallowed it.


Taking Tinctures Sublingually

Taking your tinctures sublingually means that the THC and CBD are introduced directly into your bloodstream, and you will likely start feeling it within the first 20 to 30 minutes. We do still recommend waiting at least an hour before taking more.


How Long Do the Effects of Tinctures Last?

Products with a higher THC concentration will likely last a little longer than tinctures with a lower concentration. Additionally, the method of dosing also affects how long they last. And finally, the amount you take is correlated with the length of time you are feeling your tinctures.


Duration of Tincture Effects: Swallowing/Food and Beverages

The strongest effects generally last about 4 hours when you add tinctures to your smoothies or swallow them straight. However, they can last up to 24 hours depending on your metabolism and diet.


The reason we recommend clearing your calendar for the day before you try anything new, is that the effects may pop back up suddenly; and it’s important to know how you have a tendency to respond. You don’t want to be driving somewhere thinking the tincture has worn off, only to discover at a stoplight that it has not.


Duration of Tincture Effects: Sublingual

Taking your tincture sublingually will move it through your system faster and generally not last quite as long. However, we still recommend taking precautions when you are using something new.


How Long is the Shelf Life of Tinctures?

In general, the range you can expect your tincture to last is between six months and three years. This is a wide range, but the length of time your tincture lasts will vary depending on the type of tincture you have, the type of carrier oil, and the method of storage you use.


When you get your tincture from a Virginia dispensary, there will be an expiration date on the label. Tinctures generally last well beyond the expiration date, but there is a chance that the concentration of active ingredients will begin to diminish after a certain amount of time.


Alcohol-based tinctures last longer than oil-based. But here are a few things you can do to make sure your tincture lasts as long as possible:

  • Keep the lid tightly sealed

  • Keep tincture refrigerated

  • Keep the dropper sterile

What Tinctures Can You Find at Virginia Dispensaries?

Right now, the VA medical marijuana market is dominated by vape pens and tinctures, but there still are not very many products on Virginia shelves yet. Dharma Pharmaceuticals makes a very low THC tincture that comes in pleasant, fruity flavors. However, the THC content is not much higher than what you can pick up at the Wawa checkout.


GLeaf makes a pretty potent tincture that you can find at its dispensary location in Richmond, and sometimes the Columbia Care and Beyond/Hello have it as well.


GLeaf’s THC II tincture is unflavored and perfect for adding to your hummus, dips, and even drizzling over your steak. It contains 8.5mg of THC and 5.5 mg of CBD per dropperful. We do not recommend taking a full dropperful until you know how this tincture will make you feel. Start low and go slow, with a half or even a quarter of a dropper.


A Word About Getting Tinctures at Dispensaries

Some readers may wonder why they should spend the extra money on tinctures that don’t have much more THC than the CBD tinctures they can find at their local convenience store.


However, medical marijuana dispensary products are subject to stringent regulatory practices when it comes to their processing and labeling; and you can be sure you are always getting a high-quality, safe, accurately-labeled product. This is not always the case with CBD you get somewhere else.


Soon, You’ll be Able to Make Your Own DIY Tinctures

Cannabis advocates all over the Commonwealth celebrated a recent victory when Ralph Northam signed the recent adult-use bill into law in April 2021. The new law means that it will be legal to grow up to four cannabis plants for personal use starting on July 1, 2021.


Additionally, recent legislation authorized dispensaries to start selling flower, and these products should be on the shelves in early fall.


You can make your own DIY tinctures with buds you either harvested from your own homegrown plants or purchased from a VA dispensary. DIY tinctures are easy, and homegrown products only require a couple extra simple steps.


Stay on the lookout for our tips and tricks for making your own DIY tinctures from homegrown buds, but check out this guide in the meantime.


Get a Virginia Marijuana Card to Get Started!

As of right now (and likely until 2024), you need a Virginia marijuana card in order to legally obtain cannabis tinctures without making them from your own homegrown plants. Even if you choose to go the DIY route, your plants will likely not be ready to harvest until the end of summer.


Once you have a card, you can purchase products from any dispensary in Virginia, and there are plenty of other benefits to having a marijuana card in Virginia as well.


The staff and doctors at Virginia Marijuana Card make it easy for you to get the natural relief you deserve! Give us a call at (888) 633-5808, or schedule a private telehealth evaluation today!

Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.

At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.


Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!


Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!


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