With many states now legalizing the sale and production of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, the subject of marijuana is open for heated debate.
Here in Canada, our government has done what I would call a complete about face on the subject. People who were once allowed to grow for themselves and for other licensed users, have found their abilities halted.
Patient's are now directed to a small handful of "select approved growers" and the cost has gone from $1.00 per gram to a whopping $9-$12 per gram. If you know the street value, even with a legal license, you will be paying street value prices for your medicine. This drawback of supply and support, will cause many people to possibly lose this as an alternative option for treatment. Illegal sales will undoubtedly increase as a result as well.
I found the following article on-line and it discusses the use of Cannabis Oil. Now please understand that I am not trying to sway your opinions on this subject, but to open the lines of discussion. Please take a look at the article and share your thoughts and opinions on the use of marijuana as an alternative treatment for chronic pain. Please also understand that I have not researched the facts within this article and am sharing it only as information you can speak to your family doctor about.
Awareness surrounding cannabis based medications seems to be growing exponentially. As more documentaries are aired, and more studies published, many members of the public are beginning to look into the subject. Much of this awareness has spread as a direct result of the online cannabis community, but with the internet being a network where anybody can share information, much confusion has arisen.
Online, I have bared witness to many posts dedicated to people debating over cannabis extract; what is it, how is it made, what's in it and what does it do? In real life, many friends have also approached me with similar questions. Knowing this, I have gathered the following information, not only for myself to have to hand, but for all of you to share when the following question arises:
What is cannabis oil?
In order to answer this question, I need to begin by addressing another question:
What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are a unique group of compounds created by the cannabis plant. The most well known cannabinoid is delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC for short. THC is psycho-active, and is responsible for the well known "high" associated with cannabis. Another well known cannabinoid is cannabidiol, or CBD. CBD is actually anti-psychotic, and reduces the "high" effect associated with THC.
There are roughly 90 cannabinoids mapped out within the cannabis plant, each with their own unique effects. Different strains of cannabis produce different ratios of cannabinoids, and as a result, different strains of cannabis have different effects. The most common forms of cannabis are those bred to have large quantities of THC for those using the plant recreationally.
The cannabinoids are all related, in that they are formed one after another over time, or with the added energy of light and heat. Cannabinoid production starts when an enzyme causes geranyl pyrophosphate and olivetolic acid to combine and form cannabigerol, or CBG. Next, CBG is independently converted to either CBD or CBC by two separate synthase enzymes and so on.
Whilst the cannabis plant is wet, it may have large amounts of THCa, the acidic form of THC. If the plant is left to dry before being packed and sold, this allows the THCa time to loose its carbon atom, a process termed decarboxylation, which creates the psycho-active form of THC. Certain parts of the plant are also rich in different types of cannabinoids, yet it is the flowering heads (buds) of the female plants that have the adequate levels of fully formed cannabinoids.
Usually a bag of "buds" that is ready to be used is "partially decarboxylated" were after being left to dry, some THC has formed. Smoking or cooking the plant applies heat which completes the process of decarboxylation. As a result of this, wet cannabis and strains low in THC do not cause a "high" effect when ingested. With the knowledge of cannabinoids and their multiple forms, the next question surely begins to arise:
What do cannabinoids do once they're inside the body?
Medical studies over the past 20 years have revealed that all mammals have a specialised system within our bodies. This is known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is made up of the largest group of receptors within the body, located within all our vital organs, major bodily systems and peripheral cells. These receptors release special neurotransmitters called "endocannabinoids" which are extremely important with regards to long term health and homeostasis.
The endocannabinoids aid in the roles of our organs as well as our immunities. They also stabilise our emotions, allow cross talk between various parts of the body, control cell growth, as well as playing a direct functional role within metabolism and storage. In short, it is due to the nature of the ECS that our bodies remain healthy. Dysfunction of this system is called "Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome" a term that describes a broad spectrum illness, thought to be responsible for many of today's diseases.
The uniqueness of the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant is that they can act upon the ECS, directly mimicking the roles of the endocannabinoids. Due to the multitude of cannabinoids and their individual effects, various benefits can include anything from anti-nausea, pain relief, control over seizures, clearing of infections and anti-inflammation, to fundamental biological actions resulting in immune-regulation and cancer cell death.
Many of these effects can only be produced by specific cannabinoids, or various combinations of cannabinoids, and thus, much research is currently underway in order to gauge an idea of which strains of cannabis would be most suited for each condition. These effects are also dose dependant. As an example, smoking cannabis may provide instant anti-nausea and pain relief, but for the more mechanical effects such as cancer cell death, our bodies and our receptors need soaking in much higher concentrations of cannabinoids than can be achieved by smoking cannabis.
This is where we finally come back to our original question:
What is cannabis oil?
Cannabis oil is a special resin created by concentrating the plant's cannabinoids down into a pure cannabinoid extract. Although many people confuse cannabis oil with resins created in order to be smoked recreationally, cannabis oil is created via soaking large amounts of bud in alcohol, which extracts the plant's cannabinoids. The plant matter is then removed and the alcohol slowly boiled away outdoors until just the black, cannabinoid based resin is left.
For various conditions, cannabis oil can be taken numerous ways; ingestion, under the tongue, vapourisation/inhalation, rectally, and simply by spreading it on the skin. Each method serves different purposes, for example, spreading the oil on a skin infection or sore would be effective, however, for internal diseases, or illnesses that require quick intervention, internal ingestion is by far the most effective method.
One particularly unique form of oil is "high CBD" oil. This type of oil usually contains far more CBD than THC, and has become an excellent option for paediatric conditions such as infant epilepsy. As high CBD oils do not produce an unnecessary high, many parents are finding that this particular medicine works, where other, far more intensive pharmaceutical medications fail. As the cannabinoids are completely none toxic, there is no danger of overdose/poisoning via ingesting cannabinoids.
Aside from this, the most common forms of oil are high in THC, with a notable amount of CBD, and trace amounts of the rest of the cannabinoids. As mentioned previously, much research into the effects of the additional cannabinoids is currently underway. The oil is a 14/1 concentrate, meaning that it would take 14 grams of high grade bud to create 1 gram of oil. Most medical users take a course of 60 grams in three months, in order to send potentially fatal conditions into remission, although some people may require more or less depending on their circumstances.
As this medicine is directly treating a biological deficiency, medical users continue to take a "maintenance dose" of the oil after the disease is brought under control, in order to ensure that there is no re-occurrence. Those who are able to, often grow their own plants in order to ensure that they can continue to take their cannabis oil. This allows them to avoid the many online scammers, as well as avoiding the black market and gathering unwanted attention.
And so, to recap -
Cannabis oil is an edible concentrate of the plant's medicinal compounds, called cannabinoids. Cannabinoids have their multitude of effects, because we already have an important system within our bodies that produce similar compounds. This is called the endocannabinoid system. When this system becomes deficient, we become prone to disease. Smoking raw cannabis does not give a dose anywhere near great enough to directly treat these conditions, however, small doses can help with various symptoms.
And as Professor Robert Melamede from the University Of Colorado aptly states:
"There is barely a system within our bodies that the endocannabinoid system does not regulate".