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Consuming Cannabis Oil: A How-To Guide

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We've come a long way from the days when dried bud was the only form of cannabis available on the market. Nowadays, loads of new products have been popping up in retailers across North America – from pre-rolls to gel capsules and more. And while edibles are not yet legal in Canada, other ingestible formats have made their way to store shelves of licensed retailers throughout the country. Cannabis oil in Canada is one of the most popular.

What is cannabis oil?

Cannabis oil is made from a cannabis extract that’s diluted in oil. The extract, which is a thick, sticky, and resinous substance packed with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, is extracted from the cannabis using a number of different methods. The cleanest and safest method is widely accepted to be supercritical CO₂ extraction. This process is commonly used in many industries, from such applications as coffee decaffeination to a more sustainable and non-toxic solvent for dry cleaning. In the cannabis industry, this method of extraction has become a popular way for companies to make cannabis oil.

Why use cannabis oil?

why use cannabis oil

Let's face it: most people still think of cannabis consumption in the context of dried flower being smoked - even though there are now many ways to consume. So why, if you have an established method that works, would you consider alternative formats? Well, there are several reasons why consuming cannabis oil is a preferred method for some people.

Oils last longer

The effects of ingesting cannabis – whether that's in the form of oil or another ingestible – may last longer compared to inhalation. According to Health Canada, the "onset of acute effects is delayed, with [effects] generally lasting much longer compared to smoking/vapourizing." It is generally advised that if you choose to ingest cannabis you should "wait a minimum of 2 hours between administration of single doses of oral products to gauge for strength of effects."1

With ingestion, it should be noted that not only are effects delayed, but certain people may experience them for a longer amount of time. As outlined in this Health Canada Dosing guide, “acute effects may begin to be felt as quickly as 30 mins and as late as 3 or 4 hours after administration. This variability in timing depends on a number of factors (e.g. amount of food in stomach) […] acute effects generally peak between 3 and 4 hours after dosing and can last up to 8 hours or longer e.g. 12-24 hours.” 2

Oils are discreet

Cannabis oil - a discreet way to consume cannabis

Unlike smoking or vaping, consuming cannabis oil doesn’t emit any odour or leave any obvious indication of cannabis use. Since the product doesn’t require any preparation or heating, consumers can ingest cannabis oils anywhere without any hassle.

Oils are smoke-free

Another reason cannabis oil is an increasingly popular option is because of its smoke-free properties. Unlike smoking cannabis, which may be harmful to the lungs, cannabis oil is ingested orally without combustion. For that reason, it is often a preferred method for people who cannot consume cannabis by inhalation for medical reasons (or for those who simply don’t want to).

How do I use this kind of product?

Different Cannabis oil formats

Since cannabis oil is typically combined with a carrier oil like MCT or olive oil, no further preparation is needed. And since the cannabis extract has already been decarboxylated, no heating is necessary (you don’t have to cook with the oil, although you certainly can if you wish to do so!). Consumers can choose to ingest the oil by itself, add it to food or drinks, take it in the form of an oil-filled gel capsule or even as an oral spray.

As always, it’s important to remember that if you choose to consume cannabis, do so wisely. For cannabis oil dosage recommendations, refer to the Health Canada dosing guide. If you’re consuming cannabis oil for medical reasons, consult a healthcare practitioner for dosing guidelines. The right dose for you may be different compared to other people. For that reason, remember to start low and go slow.


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