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.
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.
How is it different to cannabis?
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.
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.
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.
The side effects and risks involved with consuming marijuana-based products aren’t clear, either, Bonn-Miller said. It’s important to “determine cannabinoids that are useful therapeutically while understanding and using cannabinoids that are associated with less risk,” he said. At least with CBD, he said, it doesn’t appear to have the potential for addiction. That’s different from THC, which has been associated with addiction, he said, and negative side effects, including acute anxiety.
Cannabis treatment in people with certain forms of epilepsy has been more promising. The only FDA-approved cannabis-based drug is Epidiolex, a CBD oral solution for treating two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. A recent clinical trial found that Epidiolex reduced convulsive seizures by 50% in children with Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy, MedPage Today reported.
The physiological effects of cannabinoids can vary widely from person to person, and also depend on how they’re consumed. That lack of predictability is one of the reasons why cannabis oil is a challenging candidate for developing into a medicine, Ward told Live Science.
Why medical experts are hesitant about CBD
Similar to other herbal extracts, the chemicals in cannabis oils vary depending on how the extract is made and what chemicals were in the plant to begin with.
Simply put, cannabis oil is the concentrated liquid extract of the marijuana plant, Cannabis sativa.
Cannabis plants produce thousands of compounds but the most well recognized belong to a class called cannabinoids. There are several cannabinoids but the two that are most well-known among consumers are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).
People claim that cannabis oil can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, though evidence to back up these claims is often lacking. For example, according to Medical News Today, people use cannabis oil for conditions ranging from pain to acne; some even claim the oil can cure diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. (But again, there is no clinical evidence to support these claims.)
Adah Chung is a fact checker, writer, researcher, and occupational therapist.
Even though several states allow medical marijuana that contains THC, it is still illegal under federal law. Some states have even made recreational marijuana legal, but it’s also illegal under U.S. law.
What Is THC?
If you’re considering vaping THC oil, you might want to reconsider given the fact that it can have such a negative impact on your lungs. Vaping THC oil can lead to a substance use disorder, which in severe cases can become an addiction.
As more and more states legalize marijuana and cannabis plants, people—especially young adults and teens—are starting to become curious about what products are available to them. Additionally, many are experimenting with vaping these products, usually in the form of THC oil and CBD oil. However, it’s important to note that CBD oil and THC oil impact the body in completely different ways.
Vaping THC oil involves heating the oil and inhaling it through a vaporizing device like a vape pen or an e-cigarette. Some people believe that vaping THC oil is safer than smoking because it doesn’t involve inhaling smoke. But the issue is that vaping hasn’t been around long enough and there isn’t enough research to really determine whether or not it’s safer.