Cannabis Oil is also known as Medical Marijuana oil is not to be confused with Hemp Seed Oil. Cannabis oil contains active ingredients named cannabinoids, and there is usually also a terpene profile (more information on this below), all these are usually dissolved into a carrier oil.
These carrier oils vary by the manufacturers, and can be made from various sources such as olive, grapeseed, palm, coconut, sunflower, MCT (medium-chain triglyceride – made from other oils), etc. If you have allergies that you know of, it is best to check with your doctor or directly with the manufacturer of the medication you are prescribed – as the way CBD oil is made by each manufacturer may change over time.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a compound that can be either extracted from the cannabis plant or synthetically derived. It’s important to note that CBD is both non-psychotropic or non-psycho-active. CBD is one of the fastest growing nutraceuticals in the world, clinical studies show that CBD does have a range of potential health benefits for people suffering from a variety of conditions and indications.
CBD is also common as a medicine as it has a narrow side effect profile when compared to other mainstream pharmaceuticals. However, some patients have reported side effects of Cannabidiol including dry mouth, low blood pressure, light-headedness, and drowsiness, but these are very uncommon.
What’s CBD Oil exactly?
As covered above, CBD oil contains Cannabidiol (CBD) which is suspended in a carrier oil.
CBD oil is usually taken orally by holding the oil under your tongue for as long as you can and then swallowing. Taking CBD orally provides a longer, slower onset (time to take effect) but the upside is it can give longer lasting results. Another advantage is you can easily measure the exact dose.
Is CBD safe?
CBD is a non-toxic substance that doesn’t make people feel high (non-euphoric). Side effects of CBD are minimal when compared to comparable medications that may be used to treat symptoms. The experiences range from patient to patient, some of the potential side effects include dry mouth, nausea and light-headedness.
CBD has a vast amount of therapeutic potential which is why it’s proving so common on a Global scale. To name a few, it has anti-inflammatory antioxidant, anticonvulsant, antibacterial, appetite stimulant, antipsychotic, antitumoral, immunomodulator, anti-diabetic, anti-psoriatic, anti-ischemic, antiproliferative, bone stimulant and neuro-protective properties.
Due to its expansive therapeutic window, it’s effective in managing symptoms across a variety of conditions and indications.
Black Market vs Legal Access
All cannabis products used for therapeutic means require a medical prescription in Australia. Therefore, buying CBD online is illegal.
Taking that aside for a second, this argument comes down to a very simple question, do know what you are buying? When Medical Cannabis oils are commercially manufactured, medications need to adhere to very strict quality standards of manufacturing. This leads to consistency which is imperative when using any substance as a medicine.
Consistency is highly unlikely with black market products and there are no regulations associated which means you could be buying literally anything. There are no guarantees regarding the stated cannabinoid content on any product and there could also be the use of harmful contaminants such as heavy metals, bacteria, fungus, viruses, herbicides, or pesticides.
For any medication to be effective, it needs to have consistent quality and safety standards in place. If you are considering buying a product without a prescription that claims to contain CBD, please be aware that it is both illegal and highly risky. You cannot trust the label or and third-party testing results with these suppliers and be mindful that they are not subject to audits and enforcement by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The TGA is aware of false claims made by some US and other International companies supplying products containing (or claiming to contain) CBD (Cannabidiol) and they are working hard to minimise this to protect the safety and wellbeing of Australian patients.
What is the difference between street cannabis and medicinal cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis, or the type that can be prescribed here in Australia, is highly regulated. This can be both a good and bad thing for patients who might be eligible to undergo this treatment.
Medicinal cannabis has very stable levels of cannabinoids and is tested for various contaminants before they are allowed to be prescribed in Australia. Contaminants (also called adulterants) include heavy metals, fungi, pesticides and various toxins. These can sometimes be found if a person buys ‘street cannabis’, and could be harmful to your health.
If you think about it, how do you know where or how street cannabis is grown?
Is medicinal cannabis safe? How do I know I’m getting the right dose?
However, strict testing is conducted on every batch of medicinal cannabis, and manufacturers of medicinal cannabis need to complete and pass this testing before their medications are allowed into Australia.
As medicinal cannabis has stable levels of the active ingredient, you can rely on the same effect between bottles of medication with the same dose.
Most medicinal cannabis is also in a swallowed form, rather than breathed in, smoked or inhaled, or vaped. You may have heard about the dangers of smoking or vaping. Just like with tobacco, there are similar concerns with cannabis that is smoked or vaped.
How long does cannabis oil take to work? How long do the effects last?
Medicinal cannabis is usually prescribed in an oil form, commonly called CBD oil or cannabis oil. Cannabis oil can have benefits over inhaled (smoked or vaped) cannabis.
Although swallowed cannabis oil can take longer to have an effect after each dose compared with inhaling (average of 30-60 min with the oil), the overall effect tends to last longer. This longer duration (usually over 6-10 hours) means that patients may have better overall control for symptoms over the day with the oils. For comparison, effects from smoked or vaped forms only tend to last 2-3 hours on average.
Considerations when taking CBD Oil
Most prescribed cannabis oils are meant to be swallowed. Sometimes, these can also be made to be absorbed in the mouth, or under the tongue.
Because the oils can contain other plant compounds, most commonly ones called terpenes, it can have a strong smell or taste that may take some time getting used to. Different formulations, or brands, of CBD oil may have varying amounts of these terpenes.
Depending on the CBD Oil, it can have an earthly bitter taste. One tip to manage this is to first coat your mouth first with a fatty-rich food like avocado or yogurt. This should prevent the taste buds on top of your tongue from being affected.
It is usually recommended that these oils are taken with, or just after, food. This can increase the amount that is absorbed into your body and make the medication more effective.
What is the difference between cannabis oil and CBD oil?
‘CBD oil’ and ‘Cannabis oil’ usually refer to the same substance. This usually means extracts from the cannabis plant that is dissolved in a carrier oil.
In this article, the terms CBD oil and cannabis oil will be used interchangeably. Technically speaking, ‘CBD oil’ refers to cannabis oil that contains just CBD and few other cannabinoids. However, many people use the term ‘CBD oil’ to mean any oil containing active ingredients from the cannabis plant.
The active ingredients in these oils are usually cannabinoids. Cannabinoids that you may have heard of are THC and CBD (or TetraHydroCannabinol, and CannaBiDiol). These oils may contain many other cannabinoids as well, however, most prescribed medicinal cannabis oil in Australia mostly contains different combinations of THC and CBD only.
What is Hemp oil?
Hemp oil refers to oil that contains extracts from the hemp plant. Although hemp itself technically comes from the same species (the cannabis plant), hemp has been cultivated and grown over time to have low or absent levels of THC.
Additionally, it may have CBD – however, this hemp oil can only be at very low levels to be able to be purchased over the counter in Australia. Because of this, hemp oil is likely to not contain enough CBD to be effective for certain symptoms.
What is Hemp Seed Oil?
Hemp products are widely available on the shelf of your local supermarket. These are food-grade products derived from Hemp seeds. These products are food-grade and while derived from Hemp seeds, they are nutrient-rich with proteins, omega 3 and omega 6, iron, etc. However, these types of products do not usually contain therapeutic amounts of Cannabinoids.
CBD oil is primarily produced from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the Cannabis plant and not from the seeds like Hemp Seed oil.
Some hemp products may contain trace amounts of CBD (limited to 0.04% CBD or over 0.01% THC) which is clearly a sub-clinical dose and not for therapeutic use.
There are some clever marketing campaigns out there but please don’t be another victim, speak to a doctor and get a medication you can rely on.
How can you read your medication label?
The first thing to do is calculate the milligram (mg) per ml of active cannabinoids. Most medications make this very obvious for patients on the bottle and packaging, for example, CBD 100 is often a reference to 100mg per ml.
Some products state the total milligram (mg) content, for example 1000mg in 30ml.
600 (mg) / 30 (ml) = 20 mg/ml
Ok, once you have that information, you may wish to calculate the cost per milligram (mg). If you paid $100 for this medication, the calculation would be as follows;
100 ($) / 600 (mg) = 0.16c.
If you have any trouble calculating this or you would like to learn more, simply contact one of our friendly team members on 1300 633 226. We have a team of Pharmacists waiting to support you with understanding how to get the most out of your medication.
Do I need a prescription for CBD oil?
Currently, the only legal way for patients to access CBD oil (with sufficient concentrations of CBD and/or THC to be useful) in Australia is through a prescription.
There are many sources of CBD oil that can be found throughout Australia, online, or from overseas – however the majority of this is not legal. Although many people may first hear about (or try) these CBD oils from these other sources, their production isn’t regulated. This means that there aren’t any guarantees of consistency of (or even any!) cannabinoids despite what may be printed on the bottles. There also isn’t any required testing for contaminants, also called adulterants, such as pesticides, heavy metals, fungi and toxins.
Prescribed cannabis oil on the other hand, is required to go through various rounds of testing before it can be prescribed to patients. Besides being free from contaminants, the medications have standardised concentrations of CBD and/or THC, which enables you to receive a consistent level of medication.
Is medicinal cannabis safe? How do I know I’m getting the right dose?
In general, we don’t have enough studies to give us information on how medicinal cannabis is best, used for the many conditions it may be beneficial for. Because of this, many doctors will take a slow and gradual approach to starting your medication with you.
There is also no ‘right dose’ – the best dose is one where you get the most benefit, at the lowest dose and with the least side effects.
If you do develop any side effects when taking the medication, it is recommended that you seek the advice of your doctor or clinic that prescribed the medication for you. However, the general approach to managing side effects is supportive – that is, usually waiting for side effects to disappear on their own.
So what are the regulations in Australia exactly?
The short answer here is any doctor in Australia can make an application to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) under the Special Access Scheme.
This application outlines why the doctor has the professional opinion that their patient should be approved to access a Medicinal Cannabis Product.
If the total cannabinoid content of the medication is 98% (or more) CBD, the medication is considered a Schedule 4 Controlled Drug by the Office of Drug Control. If the other cannabinoid content exceeds the 2%, the medication is classified as a Schedule 8.