Wrath of the Green Dragon: lessons learned from a botched experiment in making cannabis extract
Mistakes to learn from...
Jaden and I had no idea what we were doing.
We’d heard rumors about this thing called “the green dragon” but never had we actually seen someone try and make it. We weren’t even sure what it was or what it was supposed to do to a person — all we knew (or at least what we’d heard) was that it required Everclear grain alcohol and a bunch of weed stems.
Both of which we knew we could get our hands on.
Sure, we probably could have looked up the specifics, could have tried to find some directions for the experiment we were about to embark upon. (Something like this, a guide and catalogue of mistakes to avoid, would have benefitted our efforts immensely). But this was college, after all — diving into things without studying for them was the modus operandi of the times.
“We’ll just save all the stems from all the weed we smoke in this bag here,” Jaden said, pulling a zip lock out of his couch’s center console. “Then, when we’ve got enough we’ll get someone to buy us a bottle of Everclear and we'll fill it up.”
I looked at the empty zip lock, trying to imagine how much weed we’d need to smoke to fill it with stems.
“We’ve got some work to do.”
Jaden opened up a grinder and set it on the table.
“So let’s get to it.”
And so we began. One smoke sesh after the next we carefully saved our stems — every damn one of them: the small ones, the broken ones, the big ones, the thin ones, the chodes, the twigs. Every time someone joined us we’d make them contribute their stems to the bank, explaining to all of them our grand plan to soak those stems in 151 proof grain alcohol, to create some mysterious drink known as the green dragon.
I don’t know what we thought we were going to achieve with this undertaking. I think it may have just been that college-student-curiosity to create something that would fuck us up to the moon — the same urge that makes people pour six different handles of six different alcohols into a single cooler to make “jungle juice.” We figured we were making the ultimate party shot; not only was it Everclear, the gnarliest, most potent alcohol legally available for consumption in America, but it was weed-infused Everclear. Whatever party we busted this out at was going to be one to remember. Or, perhaps, one to forget.
Either way people would be blown away.
After just a few weeks of regular after class smoke seshes, we had enough stems to get our experiment underway. It was a big moment when we finally loaded that bottle of Everclear full of stems, sliding each one in and watching them sink slowly to the bottom.
Then we screwed the incubating dragon shut, tossed it in a corner and forgot about it. Literally.
Months went by. Mid-terms came and went, weekends flew past, parties were had and spring was approaching summer. And all the while that bottle of Everclear infused.
Until one day in late April, when we were sitting on that same couch, smoking a blunt like we had so many times before, I watched as Jaden threw a stem in the garbage. I gasped and he froze in place, recognition on his face. We didn’t even have to say anything. We both understood what the other one was thinking:
Without hesitation we both leapt up, moved to the kitchen and retrieved the Everclear bottle from the dark cabinet we'd stored it in.
The Everclear was no longer “clear” in any sense of the word. The liquid had taken on a marshy brown-green color and was full of stem debris which had turned a weird dull tan. There was absolutely nothing appealing about this alcohol, the dragon. Nothing appetizing about it at all except for the “hard work” we’d put into stewing it up.
So, we decided to put our creation to the test right then and there.
Now, here was perhaps the biggest screwup of the entire experiment. The green dragon, when made by people who understand what they’re doing, is not a liquor to be drunk — it’s a tincture to be dropped. Usually people use an eye-dropper beneath the tongue to properly dose themselves with the high-THC concentrate tincture that is produced when you let weed products marinate in high-alcohol liquor for months on end.
We did not know this, however. And so, we started pouring shots of the stuff.
I held my shot glass to the light, looking curiously into it. Admiring the strange swampy color, the odd boozy scent, the loose particles suspended mid-shot. Jaden clinked his against mine.
“Bottoms up, buddy.” And we put them back.
Almost immediately both of us choked on the stuff. Not only did it burn like vodka on roids, but it tasted like bongwater. We gagged, we coughed, we swallowed and tried not to vomit on each other. We shivered and looked up in horror.
“That was absolutely disgusting.”
“I’ve never tasted a shot that bad in my life.”
“Should we try mixing it with something?”
“We probably just need Redbull.”
“It can’t be that gross.”
We poured some green dragon redbulls. And, lo and behold, they were just as terrible as the shots. Maybe worse.
Things get blurry after that. We didn’t finish more than a third of the bottle. We simply couldn’t. Both of us were struck with intense stomach cramps, headaches and a strange buzz that lingered somewhere between stoned and drunk.
I left Jaden’s apartment in a funk, disappointed that our experiment had turned so sour, feeling strange and intoxicated, high, but in a weird and uncomfortable way.
We never breathed a word of that failure to anyone. The green dragon never made it to one of our parties. In fact, I think (and hope) Jaden threw it out that very night.
Now, years later, I’ve returned to this idea of the green dragon, to find out what went wrong that fateful night, how we screwed the pooch so badly and to share that information with the world so no one else has to experience that same strange disappointment. Because, the green dragon can be made correctly and to great effect — as long as you know what you’re doing.
So, here’s my brief rundown on how we should have made ours and how you should make yours if you so desire to try. Without further ado, I give you, Rooster’s official green dragon recipe:
- Weed (shake or bud preferably, probably not stems – but I hear they can work)
- Solvent (Everclear works, but so does vodka, absinthe, glycerin or vinegar)
- Airtight mason jar(s)
Step I – First day
- Grind up weed and bake it in the oven on a cookie sheet (this is called decarboxylation, and it turns the relatively inert THC in the bud into psychoactive THC — much more effective for use in edibles and tinctures).
- Fill jar(s) roughly ¾ full of decarboxylated cannabis.
- Pour your solvent (whichever you chose) over the weed, filling the jar(s) up.
- Seal the jars.
- Gently shake or “tumble” your jars (roll them back and forth) for about three minutes.
- For the next two to three weeks, gently shake or tumble your jars every day for a couple minutes.
- Do not forget about your green dragon.
- At the three- or four-week mark, you can open your jars.
- Pour the liquid solvent through the cheesecloth and into a separate container like a bowl. This will strain out the unwanted weed floaties, which you can squeeze for whatever’s left soaked up in there.
- Put your solvent (now an active tincture) into eye-dropper bottles, or into whatever container you plan on storing it in.
Viola! You’ve got yourself a ready-to-use, home-made THC tincture. I would recommend against taking shots of it right off the bat, though. Start with a single drop placed under your tongue to test for potency. If you need more after thirty minutes, take another drop and another after that until you are satisfactorily high.
The wrath of the green dragon doesn’t have to be a total bitch.