Cannabis is associated with recreational marijuana and the “high” that comes with the use of the plant. The oil extracted from the cannabis plant does not create as much of a “high” within its user and it has many medical benefits. The oil is a resinous substance that is made up of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. The substance extracted from the cannabis flower may also be known as marijuana oil or hash oil. Outside sources often produce oil that contains less cannabinoids and more contaminants, so it is important to get oil from a trusted source.1 Cannabis oil can be extracted using a few different methods. Butane hash oil is produced when butane is used to extract the cannabinoids and create a sticky substance that hardens into a “crumbly ‘honeycomb’ or a glasslike ‘shatter’”. If the extraction process is done improperly, the hash oil may contain traces of butane, so the oil should be tested for purity. Carbon dioxide can also be used to extract the oil, effectively reducing the cannabis to its essential oil compounds. Rick Simpson oil was a process of using naphtha or isopropyl alcohol to produce the cannabis oil, a process invented by Rick Simpson who would then consume the tar-like liquid orally or apply it directly to the skin. Simpson cited the oil as being a treatment for his cancer, though its effects were really reducing the side effects that the cancer caused him to experience, leading many people to believe that cannabis oil is a total cure for cancer. Cannabis oil made through alcoholic extraction has been a very common way to produce the oil for a long time, and now it comes in a variety of flavors for patients to experience when they put a few drops of oil underneath the tongue. Medication without smoking the cannabis oil is preferable for many patients, such as those with breathing issues.2 Cannabis is not the same as hemp oil because each oil comes from its respective plant. They are chemically different, with cannabis oil containing a higher content of THC while hemp contains more CBD. THC activates more dopamine receptors in the brain, reducing pain and increasing the feeling of contentedness. The two oils are used differently for their medical properties.3
How to Use Cannabis Oil
Cannabis oil can be consumed in a variety of ways. It can be taken orally, often from a syringe or pill capsules to help control dosage. The oil can also be taken in the form of suppositories or applied to the skin through creams or beauty treatments. It can also be vaporized and inhaled by the lungs.4 Cannabis oil is not the perfect cure for cancer. Its use does reduce the pain and nausea that comes from chemo therapy and it does kill certain cancerous cells. However, there are so many types of cancer cells that they all cannot be killed by only some oil. More research has to be done in the field of cannabis oil and its effectiveness against cancer. The oil has other medical uses.5 Cannabis oil does relieve anxiety, stress, and pain. It has also been shown to be an appetite booster, which is beneficial for patients recovering from extended illness, injury, or an eating disorder. Medical cannabis oil has also been linked to the reduction of glaucoma in the eyes as well as diminished macular degeneration. The heart also benefits from cannabis oil because of its antioxidant stimulation and ability to reduce cholesterol.6 Like humans, dogs can also reap some benefits from cannabis oil. Older dogs or dogs that have permanent injuries can experience relief from their pain when they are given a few drops of oil in their food. Some owners report their dogs’ return to their former happiness and energy because they have been given relief from their ailments. Of course, the use of cannabis oil on humans and animals is unregulated and little research has been done on the side effects of its use.7
As of the spring of 2016, twenty-five states have laws that legalize some form of marijuana. A patient with a medical card and an approved need for treatment can be given medical cannabis. Of the twenty-five states, only a fraction of the list has legalized both the medical and recreational use of marijuana. The laws regarding marijuana and cannabis oil are not always clear in every state, and further legalization and awareness needs to occur before everyone has easier access to the benefits of the oil. Other countries, such as those in the United Kingdom, are just beginning to increase the availability of cannabis oil while Canada already has a system for the distribution of medical marijuana. It is important that the patient consults the local government to find out about the legality and availability of the oil in their area.8
Learn more about marijuana legalization.