Four drugs based on cannabis compounds are already on the market in Europe. Among them are Nabilone, a synthetic compound that mimics THC, is prescribed for nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and Sativex, an oil that contains equal parts THC and CBD, is used to treat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. Both contain too much THC to administer to children. “The only medicines that are approved in the UK would get children stoned,” said David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London.
Cannabis oils are extracts from cannabis plants. Unprocessed, they contain the same 100 or so active ingredients as the plants, but the balance of compounds depends on the specific plants the oil comes from. The two main active substances in cannabis plants are cannabidiol, or CBD, and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Oil extracted from hemp plants can contain a lot of CBD, while oil from skunk plants will contain far more THC. THC produces the high that recreational cannabis users seek, while oils for medical use contain mostly CBD.
Cannabis oil can only be sold legally in Britain if it contains less than 0.05% THC. But the nation’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, announced recently that even pure CBD could not be sold as a medicine without first going through the usual clinical testing and safety checks required for all new medicines. This month, the US Food and Drug Administration will consider the approval of Epidiolex, a CBD-based medicine from GW Pharmaceuticals, which has completed such clinical trials. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will rule on the drug early next year. If the EMA approves Epidiolex, it could be available to prescribe to named patients in Britain next year, Brexit notwithstanding.
Don’t we already have cannabis-based drugs?
CBD is an anticonvulsant, and some other compounds in the plant, including THC and cannabidivarin, may be too. There is good evidence from clinical trials in the US and Europe that pharmaceutical preparations of CBD can treat two severe forms of childhood epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Both forms of epilepsy often fail to improve with existing epilepsy drugs. CBD is generally considered safe, but some trials have reported side effects including dry mouth, lightheadedness and altered liver enzyme activity.
Other forms of cannabis are solid and are usually sold either as resin or dried plant material. In commercially-produced medical cannabis oils, the concentrations of CBD and THC tend to be well-controlled, which makes it easy to calculate doses.
Europe is a patchwork of cannabis legislation. In the Netherlands, doctors can prescribe cannabis and cannabis preparations for symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, long-term pain and the tics associated with Tourette’s syndrome. Other European nations are following suit. In the US, at least 29 states allow medical uses of cannabis, and earlier this year, California became the eighth state to permit recreational use of the drug, too.
In this series, we’ll explore the many cannabis concentrate options available to you (depending on your local cannabis laws). Here’s a brief list of broad extract types to familiarize you with what’s to come in this series:
Cannabis concentrates, oils, and extracts offer many unique benefits that you won’t find smoking flower. From easy, precise dosing to clean and refined flavors, concentrates focus on the ingredients in cannabis that matter most. In this 4-part series, you’ll learn the fundamentals of concentrates, explore product options, discover how extracts are made, and more.
(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)
Types of cannabis oil
But why bother with concentrates when you have tried-and-true bud? Flower may be good enough for you, but there are many reasons to explore the many options—and medicines—offered in extract form:
An oil, concentrate, or extract is any product derived from cannabis flower that is processed into a concentrated form, but each type of cannabis oil is unique.
C annabis oils, concentrates, and extracts—these all serve as umbrella terms under which sits a warehouse of different products: vape oil, hash, tinctures, dabs, CBD oil, and every other product dreamed up by cannabis chemists.
Every extract serves a different purpose and consumer type, so we’ve broken our recommendations down based on your experience with concentrates:
Hemp seed oil is also extracted from the hemp plant, but it differs from hemp oil in a few key ways. While it is nutrient-dense like CBD oil, hemp seed oil lacks cannabinoids at a level high enough to be effective as a CBD product. Using hemp seed oil is much more similar to eating hemp-based foods than using CBD oil products.
Extracted cannabis oil is the raw material that makes it possible to create a wide variety of cannabis products, including cannabis edibles, capsules, vapes, tinctures, beverages, dab oils, and more. Cannabis oil is also commonly taken raw and unprocessed as a high concentration way to capture the cannabis plant’s nutrients and cannabinoids.
There are over 100 known cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant, and it is the cannabinoids that put cannabis oil in such high demand. The cannabinoids found in cannabis oil are responsible for its effects by promoting interactions with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Out of all of the cannabinoids found in a cannabis plant, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the most prevalent.
Hemp Seed Oil
When making hemp oil, many producers choose to use a non-toxic solvent such as supercritical CO2 to extract the hemp plant’s natural oil.
You can also purchase CBD products from Medical Marijuana, Inc. in our online store. If you’re not sure which hemp oil product to start with, check out our CBD Oil Buyer’s Guide.
If you are looking to use marijuana to appreciate the psychoactive and euphoric effects rather than use it for medical reasons, some U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. In Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, California, and Nevada, all you need is proof that you are over 21 to get access to a legal dispensary and buy recreational marijuana. Usually, a state ID or driver’s license from any state is adequate proof that you are over 21.
As mentioned above, the availability of cannabis oil in the U.S. depends upon whether it was sourced from marijuana or hemp, as well as other factors such as your location, your age, and your medical condition. Below you can learn about the laws surrounding different types of cannabis oil. Stay up-to-date with the latest information on legalization and research in our Cannabis News section.