OK, so you’ve decided to try it. You’ve heard too many good things to ignore. You’ve made the appointment with a Natural Health Services’ (NHS) doctor and you’ve settled on oils. Or maybe you plan on using both oils and dried flower. Combination therapy is great. A friendly Bud Genius in the NHS Education Center can explain and help you choose a licensed producer with your preferences in mind.

Let’s talk oil. The oil that is provided legally through a licensed producer is not the kind you vape (as you’ll sometimes find in the recreational market). It’s the kind you ingest orally. The cannabinoids are extracted from the plant, typically through CO2 extraction, and then paired with a healthy carrier oil — often coconut (MCT), grape seed or even chia. Carrier oils can have a major influence on the bioavailability of cannabinoids, aiding the compounds as they travel through the digestive tract and maximizing absorption — by some estimates doubling the rate of uptake. 

Cannabis oil is discreet, relatively odorless, and once it converts in your liver and peaks in your system (about two hours after ingestion) you may feel the effects for a good eight hours with a single microdose.

Speaking of dosing, how does one go about that? Do you need a doctor’s supervision to increase the dosage as you go until you reach your own bio-individual correct dosage? No. It’s a bit of a different approach than you may be used to. With pharmaceutical dosing, you would look to your doctor to tell you when to increase the amount.

The only ‘rule’ with titrating (a measured dose) with medicinal cannabis is that everyone should start ‘low and slow.’ Keep this chart in mind for what that looks like. You can increase the dose daily until you reach the amount that works for you. For some that is 0.2 ml a few times a day. Some will find relief at 0.5 ml twice a day. It’s individual. As long as you are titrating up slowly, you will be fine. Cannabis is non-toxic. Unlike pharmaceuticals, there is no such thing as a fatal dose. Keeping a journal is especially helpful during this initial stage of determining what is right for you. Try to keep the time of day consistent, and note what you may or may not have eaten as that will affect absorption.

The landscape of oils within the licensed producers’ offerings are changing all the time. This is a snapshot of what they are offering as of August 2017.

LICENSED PRODUCER THC mg/ml CBD mg/ml Blend Sativa vs. Indica indicated? Price per bottle/per ml Shipping cost Other ingestible format?
CannTrust 25 25 12.5:12.5 No $90/40 ml Free over $90 N/A
MedReleaf <30 <30 16:16 Yes 150-200/50 ml On free per month Oil Capsules $80-$120 per 30 caps <22 CBD

<6 THC

Aphria <19 <12.5 9:9 Yes $99/60 ml Free over 30 g (3 bottles) N/A
Tweed Main Street (including Mettrum) <30 <20 10:15

5:8

Yes Ranges $50/40 ml

$100/ml

$4 Gel Caps

Indica

$60 per 60 caps 2.5 mg thc

8:20

Canna Farms <20 <10 10:10 No Ranges $50/25ml – $150/50 ml $17.50 N/A
CanniMed <18 <20 10:10 No 129- 169/60 ml Free over $99 N/A
Emerald Health Botanicals <27 <40 11:11

27:27

Yes $75-100/30 ml

Extra strength 130-150

Free over $75

$10 flat under $75

N/A
MariCann <26 , 20 6:9 No $100-110 for 40 to 50 ml $6 N/A
Organigram <21 <14 Yes $99/50 ml THC

129/50 ml CBD

Over 30 grams free

$10 flat rate under 30 grams

N/A
Peace Naturals Project <22 No $99/30 ml Cannot find on www N/A
Hydropothecary Oil expected soon. Sublingual spray available now. AND can make your own caps with their decarbed milled product in THC, CBD or 1:1. Great value. Decarbed Caps, Sublingual Mist spray (Elixir)
Tilray Not specified within 1:3 and 1:1 No $60/25 ml $5 Oil capsules

<2.5 CBD

<10 THC

Broken Coast Oil and gelcap coming soon
Aurora <29 <27 Yes $95/30 ml Free N/A
Whistler Capped

Let’s consider the possibility that maybe you hit a roadblock. Maybe you find oil doesn’t work for you, or it takes too long to take effect, or there isn’t enough selection within oils. Hopefully, you don’t consider that the end of the road and instead allow your NHS Bud Genius to explain the option to vapourize cannabis. It is safe and definitely worth a second look. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Vapourized cannabis takes effect through the pulmonary route – which is faster and, arguably, easier to titrate (gauge when you’ve reached the exact right dose, which may be as little as one draw). There is no combustion…no toxins and it’s non-carcinogenic.
  2. 20% of the population cannot convert oils in their liver (much like any pharmaceutical). Vapourizing doesn’t need conversion like oils do.
  3. Dried herb vapourizing contains the whole plant – there is no extraction process as there is in oil, which may damage the fragile terpenes. In whole plant therapy, the organic compounds within the plant remain intact. Many consider this entourage effect the BEST approach to aches and pains. The entourage effect is, essentially, the synergistic effect of the hundreds of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that make up the plant. Not all of those make it through the extraction process into oil.

If you have further questions about cannabis oil, or would like to know more in general and are in the Calgary area, visit our Education Centre at 5809 MacLeod Trail S. Tuesday evenings at 6:30 pm. where we host a weekly education talk and audience Q&A. Can’t make it in person? Not to worry. We broadcast these sessions — also known as ‘The Cannabis Show Live’ — on our Facebook page. The episodes are archived, so if you can’t join us live, you can watch and listen later. 

This coming Tuesday (August 22, 2017), we will be discussing oils more in depth and be fielding your questions, so please feel free to ask us anything regarding the topic and we’ll do our best to answer! Or send your questions to thecannabisshow@naturalhealthservices.ca.

— Written by Kait Shane, Natural Health Services. Follow Kait on Twitter @Medikait.

For further insight into all things cannabis, don’t forget to tune into The Cannabis Show, and make sure to subscribe as there is a new episode every Wednesday.

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