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.
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.
How is it different to cannabis?
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.
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.
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.
A hospital specialist might consider prescribing medical cannabis if:
And some cannabis-based products are available on prescription as medicinal cannabis. These are only likely to benefit a very small number of patients.
It will not get you high, because it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.
How do I get a prescription?
It is licensed in the UK for people with MS-related muscle spasticity that has not got better with other treatments.
If the above does not apply to you, do not ask a GP for a referral for medical cannabis.
It would only be considered when other treatments were not suitable or had not helped.
Very few people in England are likely to get a prescription for medical cannabis.
The trick for reducing odor is using the right tool for decarboxylation. The steam produced during cooking might not give off a pungent odor at first, but it gets stronger with time. It takes hours for the oil to finish, so you can imagine that the odor can build, and, if you are in the same room the whole time, you may not notice the gradual increase in dankness.
Next up: Learn how to make infused coconut oil!
If you want something a little more robust in flavor, you can infuse olive or avocado oil. Both stand up well to the cannabis flavor and can be stored in your pantry. One of the most surprisingly delicious deserts I ever had was an olive oil ice cream. So feel free to get creative!
Whether you take it outside or put it under your kitchen vent, not allowing the odor to fill your space is paramount when it comes to discretion. But accidents happen! If you find yourself in a situation where your space is too pungent, check out our article on how to get rid of the cannabis odor.
Now get cooking! I suggest finding a few of your favorite recipes and see if an infused-cannabis oil could work. Experimenting with different recipes is half the fun, and here are a few of our favorite recipes to get you going:
Infusion is often the most challenging part of cooking with cannabis and the reason why many people turn to their vaporizer in defeat. I’m here to tell you that you can do this! Not only is it doable, but it’s worth it.
Cannabis-infused oil is probably the most versatile medium and a great place to start, since it can be used for baking desserts, sautéing veggies, frying up your morning eggs, or putting in your salad dressing. In addition, as is the case with cooking anything at home, you have complete control over its preparation. Does peanut oil hold a special place in your heart? Make cannabis-infused peanut oil!