What is Cannabis Oil?
Cannabis oil is a liquid made of cannabinoids extracted from cannabis. Although it is often referred to as hash oil, it doesn’t resemble or has any hashish in it. It is a concentrated product of cannabis containing high levels of THC, generally between 70% and 90%. Cannabis oil is generally produced with the end of recreational drug consumption, and has many different ways of being consumed, among them smoking, vaporization the liquid and inhaling it, or simply drinking.
Cannabis oil is considered a highly healthy type of oil, containing a high degree of unsaturated fats, so-called ‘good cholesterol’, and a low degree of saturated fats, or bad cholesterol. Especially in its variation as cooking oil made together with olive oil, it is considered extremely healthy for the human body.
Although cannabis is in most cases consumed by smoking, it has a varied history of other consumption methods, such as being enjoyed as food. This does not only include pure cannabis oil, but also so-called ‘space cookies’, which are in fact often made together with cannabis oil or butter.
Eating cannabis rather than smoking is considered more healthy, or less harmful, as it spares the consumer’s lungs. On the other hand of the equation, THC is considered to have a much more powerful effect when consumed as food, and although the effects take long to ‘kick in’, once they do, they’re much stronger.
Cannabis oil has several additional health benefits not widely known. For example, it has been confirmed to fight cancer successfully, administered in the form of medical cannabis. Studies as late as 1999 have clearly demonstrated the oil’s capacity to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells, when treating many aggressive forms of widespread cancer, such as lung cancer. However, as is the general case with cannabis, consumption is generally considered healthy for many different types of physical problems.
The simplest method to make cannabis oil is to extract it directly from cannabis buds. If the leaves are dry enough (if not, many users resort to the method of cooking them in a frying pan for a short while), they are to be ground well. Afterwards, the ground material needs to be sautéd in oil or butter (as said before, Olive oil is considered a good candidate here), for about an hour. After having a sautéd mixture, the solids may be removed with only the oil or butter left, or the mixture may be allowed to remain coarse and be left with the fibers in, which is known to help digestion.
There are other, more complicated methods. One of them is the so-called water extraction. This process involves cooking the cannabis in oil or butter together with water for a long while. Adding water to the mixture ensures the oil can be cooked for a longer time without tending to burn, potentially extracting ‘more’ from the plant.
Cannabis extracts have a long history of being produced and consumed. As early as 1938, scientists were employed by companies to produce cannabis oil. At this point in time, cannabis oil was considered an efficient truth drug and was delivered to prisons for interrogation purposes during the 30s. In 1937, those products started disappearing from the shelves and cannabis’ recreational use was limited to closed circles, such as music jazz clubs.
During the 70s, cannabis extracts were revived, mostly due to the help of the High Times Magazine. Oilmaking technologies such as the ISO2 extractor were advertized in the High Times, which led to extensive sales. Those devices simplified the making of cannabis oil by extracting the material from the leaves without much aid. The 70s have been widely considered as the peak time of acceptance, preparation and consumption of cannabis oil.
The advent of the Internet has meant another shift in the perception of oil cannabis making. Unfortunately, in this respect online sources had (and some still have) the tendency to contain false and inadequate information. The availability of the Internet in every home meant that new potential users were exposed to the possibilities of creating cannabis oil themselves. As a result, there have many explosions related to the making of cannabis oil throughout America over the latest 20 years. The damage has been leveraged by many cannabis opponents to present it as threatening, where in fact most of those incidents have been related to human error. Since the making of cannabis oil often involves using solvents such as butance or isopropanol, the danger may be increased due to the high flammability of such chemical products.
Nevertheless, unless made with sufficient precautions, the process of making cannabis oil can be potentially dangerous. Most of the problems seem to stem from the fact that people who make such oils tend to be recreational users of cannabis themselves, and mix preparation and consumption. If they light a joint while still in the process of making oil, the consequences may be unforeseeable. In that light, it is always recommended to separate preparation and production of cannabis oil or any cannabis extracts or products from actual consumption. Between the two actions there should be a ‘cool off’ time where it has been verified no heated preparing utensils are still left in place, and the kitchen (or otherwise the place of preparation) has been taken care of and tidied up. Such a precaution may reduce the danger by 90%, especially when chemical solvents are use as part of the preparation.
As far as the legal side is concerned, there have also some misconceptions about the legality of cannabis oil. As a general rule, cannabis oil has the same tendency to reach illegal status in most of Western world as other consumption forms of cannabis. In the US, federal law classifies cannabis and its derivatives as a schedule I controlled substance, and its possession constitutes a crime. However, as is the case with cannabis itself, cannabis products or extracts have been decriminalized or legalized in some states in the US, as well as some European countries.