Back in July, Health Canada gave Licensed Producers in Canada permission to start producing marijuana extracts, including oils. This was seen as a great advance in the use of medical marijuana in Canada.
But not is all as it seems.
Here are 3 things you need to know about medical marijuana oils:
1. They Are Not Widely Available Yet. While Health Canada is permitting the production and sale of oils generally, it still needs to approve the standard operating procedures for production and packaging of the oils that Licensed Producers wish to sell. To date, only Mettrum and Peace Naturals have received approval to actually sell the oils, and presently neither company has any available for sale.
2. Oils Are Measured by Equivalency Factors. Under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), doctors must specify the grams per day of cannabis that a patient is authorized to use. However, when sold as oil, a “gram” is not a relevant unit of measurement. Licensed Producers have been asked by Health Canada to equate the number of milliliters of oils to the number of grams of dried cannabis that was used to produce each bottle of oil. For example, Peace Naturals has indicated that its Cerene oil, which is sold in 30 milliliter bottles, has an equivalency of 3:1. This means that each gram of cannabis is used to produce 3 milliliters of oil.
While this information is somewhat informative, it does have one big limitation: the equivalency factor does NOT identify the strength of the strain made to use the oil. For instance, it is a very different conversation if the strain used to make the oils has 12% THC vs. 25% THC. A gram, or a milliliter of oil, will have very different impacts on you depending on the underlying strain. Be sure to ask your licensed producer the strength of the underlying cannabis used to make the oil. However, it is worth noting that Health Canada, for the time being is, capping the strength of all oils at 30mg of THC per milliliter of oil.
3. Cannabis Oils Involve Oils from Other Plants. Although technically called “cannabis oil”, by and large those oils that you will be purchasing from Licensed Producers are not derived solely from cannabis. Rather, the cannabis is processed using oil from another plant, such as coconut, olives or chia. Each “carrier” oil has different health and medical considerations. For instance, coconut oil is known to promote increases in HDL (the good form of cholesterol), be antimicrobial and non-allergenic. Similarly, chia oil is known for being anti-inflammatory, can help regulate blood sugar levels and can help manage pain resulting from diabetes or other inflammatory conditions. Be sure to discuss the relative risks and benefits of each type of oil with your doctor or counselor.