What Is Cannabis Oil?
Often referred to as marijuana, Cannabis sativa is a naturally occurring plant variety with active compounds.1,9 While over 400 chemicals have been identified in the plant, the two of interest to most people are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). In simple terms, THC has psychoactive properties that influence the central nervous system and create temporary changes in perception, mood, and behaviour.1 CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have psychoactive properties.13
With increasing research on its potential therapeutic properties, cannabis is now available in several forms. One of the most popular today is cannabis oil, a concentrated extract derived from heated solvent extraction. The process breaks down the plant yet leaves the cannabinoids intact.10 Sometimes referred to as pot oil or marijuana oil, this product is not the same as CBD oil.
Does Cannabis Oil Have THC Or Get You High?
Does cannabis oil get you high? Yes, cannabis oil contains THC, the predominant psychoactive compound in marijuana.1
The amount of THC in cannabis oil can affect the intensity and duration of the high. Concentrations of THC have been reported to range from 8% – 30%. Anecdotal reports also suggest that the ratio of THC to CBD may affect the intensity and duration.
Is Cannabis Oil Legal?
Cannabis is on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Schedule I list of controlled substances, making it illegal according to federal laws.2
However, in recent years several states have challenged this classification after several medical reports have outlined its potential therapeutic value. As of 2017, 25 states have enacted laws that permit the medical use of marijuana.14 In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice updated their marijuana policy to reflect a change in times, noting that while the substance remains illegal federally, states that have passed legalization laws are expected to imply strong, state enforcements.11
As of the end of 2017, the sale and consumption of cannabis oil for medical and recreational use is legal in nine states. In several states, cannabis has been decriminalized and carries a lower fine for possession of certain quantities. However, in many U.S. states, cannabis in any form, including medical marijuana oil, is legal by prescription only.11
CBD and Hemp Oil vs Cannabis Oil
Hemp oil is made from cold-pressing Cannabis sativa seeds, which contain trace amounts of THC and CBD and are not known to produce a psychoactive effect. Considered to be a source of omega 3 fatty acids, hemp oil is legal and is often included in various everyday products such as moisturizers.11
CBD oil contains large concentrations of cannabidiol, the second most prominent compound in marijuana. CBD is non-psychoactive and has been increasingly researched for its anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and pain-relieving properties.13 As CBD oil is traditionally not defined as a separate product rom marijuana, it’s legality and ability to obtain may change from state to state.14
Unlike CBD, THC oils contain psychoactive properties that give the user both a high feeling and deliver the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids. Often, people say cannabis oil when they are referring to CBD or hemp oil. But the terms are not interchangeable due to the difference in THC content.
Cannabis Oil Cancer Benefits
While clinical studies that specifically use cannabis oil for cancer treatment side effects are limited, research shows that inhalation of cannabis may have an antiemetic (anti-vomiting and nausea) effect. Among cancer patients participating in a clinical study, cannabis was more effective than conventional drugs and placebos for combating nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.3
Scientists have also studied the effect of cannabis on neuropathic pain which may occur in cancer patients. In a 2010 study, subjects experiencing post-traumatic or post-surgical pain inhaled cannabis with various amounts of THC. Researchers concluded that cannabis with 9.4% THC reduced the intensity of pain and improved sleep.4
Because the above-noted studies used inhalation, it’s unclear what would be an appropriate cannabis oil cancer dosage.
Cannabis Oil for Migraines
Prior to the onset of migraine headaches in some individuals, blood vessels expand, and serotonin is released from platelets and eliminated from the body.5
The cannabinoids in cannabis oil are known to have peripheral vasoconstrictor effect (narrowing of blood vessels). They also inhibit the release of serotonin from platelets.5 As a result, cannabis oil may help reduce symptoms of migraine headaches.
Other Cannabis Oil Uses
There are many other benefits of cannabis oil, according to clinical studies and self-reports by users.
A 2004 animal study investigated the use of cannabis oil for seizures. Results show that certain cannabinoids inhibited brain receptors involved with seizures and reduced the frequency of seizures.6
There is some evidence that prescribing cannabis oil for pain may be an effective alternative to opioids. A 2017 report shows that marijuana was equally effective as opioids for reducing pain but did not cause significant side effects.7
Online anecdotal cannabis oil success stories include those about using cannabis oil for autism. People self-report that it eases the anxiety and aggressive behavioural outbursts many individuals with autism experience.
There are also self-reports of using cannabis oil for arthritis relief. But the details of the accounts reveal that most people are using CBD oils, not THC oils.
People often use cannabis oil for appetite stimulation or anxiety management. But perhaps the most well-known use is for recreation. The THC in cannabis oil produces a mellow high that allows users to relax and unwind.
Side Effects of Cannabis Oil
Many people believe that cannabis oil benefits outweigh any potential negative effects.
Based on anecdotal reports and preliminary studies, both users and the medical community agree that most potential short-term negative side effects don’t pose a significant risk to the user’s overall well-being. Short-term side effects will vary by person and the amount of THC in the marijuana oil. The most common side effects include:9
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Light headedness
- Increased appetite
- Decreased blood pressure
For some users, cannabis oil side effects may include paranoid thinking mood changes. Cannabis oil may also exacerbate symptoms of mental health issues or the effect of sedatives or alcohol.9 Research into the long-term side effects of using cannabis oil is underway.
Due to the nature of some of these side effects, cannabis oil should not be taken when driving or operating heavy machinery.
How Long Does Cannabis Oil Stay In Your System?
Whether you’re using recreational or medical cannabis oil, you might wonder how long evidence of cannabis oil use stays in your system.
Several individual factors such as body mass index (BMI), amount consumed, and frequency of use play a role. In the body, THC metabolizes into 11-Nor-9-carboxy-THC (THCCOOH), which is eliminated through urine.8
However, THC is lipophilic and dissolves into fat. During periods of abstinence from cannabis oil, the body slowly releases the THC from fat cells. The THC then becomes THCCOOH so it can be expelled through urine.8
A 2009 study monitored the urinary elimination of THC in 6 cannabis users. Among subjects, the number of days from last use to first negative test for TCHOOCH ranged from 8 to 28 days. Users who tested negative relatively quickly were also noted to have lower BMI scores.8
There has been no clinical study into methods for speeding up the elimination of TCHOOCH. Anecdotal reports from individual users say that following a low-fat diet may help.
Where to Buy Cannabis Oil Legally
You can buy legal cannabis oil for recreational or medical use in the following states:11
Providers can only offer cannabis oil for sale within that state. Shipping across state borders, even into states with legal cannabis use, is problematic. Most reputable suppliers will not sell to out-of-state customers.
If you have a medical prescription for cannabis, you can buy cannabis oil in:11
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Can You Buy Cannabis Oil Online?
If you are looking to buy cannabis oil online, use caution about delivery. The U.S. Postal Services considers it a restricted item, even in states where the sale of cannabis is legal.
In states where buying cannabis is legal, dispensaries use courier services such as FedEx and UPS to deliver products.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Atakan, Z. (2012). Cannabis, a complex plant: different compounds and different effects on individuals. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 2(6). 241–254. http://doi.org/10.1177/2045125312457586
- “Drug Schedules”. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved December 18, 2017 from https://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml
- Machado Rocha, F.C., Stefano, S.C., De Cassia Haiek, R., Rosa Oliveira, L.M.Q., Da Silveira, D.X. (2008). Therapeutic use of Cannabis sativa on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among cancer patients: systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Cancer Care. 17(5). 431-443. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2354.2008.00917.x
- SmokWare, M.A., Wang, T., Shapiro, S., Robinson, A., Ducruet, T., Huynh, T., Gamsa, A., Bennett, G.J., Collet, J-P. (2010). Cannabis for chronic neuropathic pain: a randomized controlled trial. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 182(14). E694-E701. http://www.cmaj.ca/content/182/14/E694.abstract
- EI-Mallakh, Rif S. (1987). Marijuana and Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 27(8). 442-443 http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1526-4610.1987.hed2708442.x
- Lutz, B. (2004). On-demand activation of the endocannabinoid system in the control of neuronal excitability and epileptiform seizures. Biochemical Pharmacology. 68(9). 1691-1698. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2004.07.007
- Reiman, A., Welty, M., Solomon, P. (2017). Cannabis as a Substitute for Opioid-Based Pain Medication: Patient Self-Report. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2(1). 160-166. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2017.0012
- Goodwin, R. S., Darwin, W. D., Chiang, C. N., Shih, M., Li, S.-H., & Huestis, M. A. (2008). Urinary Elimination of 11-Nor-9-carboxy- 9-tetrahydrocannabinol in Cannabis Users During Continuously Monitored Abstinence. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 32(8). 562–569. Retrieved December 19, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2587336/
- American Cancer Society. (2017, March 16). Marijuana and Cancer. Retrieved December 19, 2017 from – View Reference
- Romano, L.L. & Hazekamp, A. (2013). Cannabis Oil: chemical evaluation of an upcoming cannabis-based medicine. Cannabinoids, 1(1), 1-11. Retrieved December 19, 2017 from – View Reference
- National Conference of State Legislatures. (2017, September 14). State medical marijuana laws. Retrieved December 19, 2017 from – View Reference
- Bosy, T. Z., & Cole, K. A. (2000). Consumption and Quantitation of 9-Tetrahydrocannabinol in Commercially Available Hemp Seed Oil Products. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 24(7), 562-566. doi:1093/jat/24.7.562
- Iffland, K. & Grotenherman, F. (2017) An update on safety and side effects of cannabidiol: A review of clinical data and relevant animal studies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. 2(1), 139-154. DOI: 1089/can.2016.0034
- Mead, A. (2017). The legal status of cannabis (marijuana) and cannabidiol (CBD) under U.S. law. Epilepsy & Behavior, 70, 288-291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2016.11.021