Cannabis oils are the resins or “concentrates” that are extracted from cannabis flowers and plant material. These oils can be extracted using a variety of methods to create products that shatter like glass, spread like butter, or crumble into fine powders.
What is cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil is extracted from the cannabis plant Cannabis sativa. The plants medicinal properties have been touted for more than 3,000 years. It was described in the ancient Eygyptian Ebers papyrus around 1550BC, and it was likely used as a medicine in China before that. Some varieties of the plant contain high levels of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the “high” that comes from smoking or eating cannabis leaves or resin. The plant’s other major chemical component is cannabidiol, which has no psychoactive effect. Both act on the body’s natural cannabinoid receptors which are involved in many processes such as memory, pain and appetite. The cannabis plant also contains more than 100 other different cannabinoid compounds at lower concentrations.
So can cannabis oil make you high?
Is it legal?
That’s a complicated question. In the UK cannabidiol is legal. Cannabis plant extracts (known as hemp or CBD oils) are available in high-street stores but the THC content must be below 0.2 per cent. “THC is not psychoactive at this level,” says David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London. But cannabidiol is illegal in many other countries.
In the USA for example, cannabidiol is classed as a schedule 1 controlled substance, and can only be sold in states where cannabis use is legal.
However, the tide may turn in favour of cannabidiol after a recent World Health Organisation review. This concluded that cannabidiol “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential” but “has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy … and may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions.”
What is the evidence that cannabis oils can help treat epilepsy?
Although there is some scientific evidence that THC has potential to control convulsions, its mind-altering effects mean that much of the focus has turned to cannabidiol – particularly for childhood epilepsies that conventional drugs fail to control.
Solvent-Based Cannabis Oil Extracts
- CO2 oil: Oils extracted using carbon dioxide, they are typically packaged as vape cartridges.
- Distillate: A potent extract stripped of everything but cannabinoid when in its purest form. Distillates can be consumed sublingually, transdermally, used in edibles or packaged as vapes.
- Hydrocarbon extracts (BHO): Commonly known as butane hash oil because the oils are extracted using solvents like butane. BHO is available as budder, crumble, shatter, and wax.
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