On October 17, Canada will legalize adult-use recreational cannabis. For the first year of the new legal marketplace, Canadians will have access to cannabis seeds, cannabis seedlings, dried cannabis flower, and cannabis oil.
What is cannabis oil? What are its legal restrictions? Here are some answers.
Cannabis oil is defined in Canada’s medical cannabis regulations as a liquid at room temperature—that means dense cannabis concentrates, such as shatter and wax, are forbidden under the Cannabis Act. Purity is key: Cannabis oil must contain only cannabis, a carrier oil (typically MCT oil), and nothing else.
Purity is key: Cannabis oil must contain only cannabis, a carrier oil, and nothing else.
For the recreational marketplace, Health Canada has extended the medical regime’s 30-milligram-per-milliliter THC limit to non-medical cannabis oil. However, there is no limit on the amount of the non-intoxicating cannabinoid CBD that producers can legally put in cannabis oil. (See medical cannabis producer Tilray’s 2:100 cannabis oil, used to treat childhood epilepsy and Dravet syndrome and featuring 100mg/ml CBD and 2mg/ml THC.)
Methods of Ingestion
Cannabis oil typically comes in tincture bottles ranging from 25ml to 100ml, containing a dropper or syringe for under-the-tongue oral administration or addition to food or beverages.
Capsules of cannabis oil will be available for oral ingestion, and cannabis oil will also be sold as a topical, so long as it retains its liquid-oil form, rather than being processed into a cream. (For example, licensed producers are marketing liquid cannabis oil as a pleasure-enhancing personal lubricant.)
Beyond that, Quebec-based producer Hydropothecary is producing a bottle of cannabis oil with a spray nozzle that delivers close to the allowable 30mg/ml THC in each spray. Called Elixir, it’s sold in the medical-cannabis system and will also be available in some provinces recreationally.
Effects of Cannabis Oil
The experience brought on by ingesting cannabis oil can be quite different from that of smoking cannabis, and the method of ingestion plays a part in the duration and intensity of effects.
Cannabis-oil drops placed under the tongue bring the quickest effects, while adding cannabis oil to food or beverages invites a more prolonged experience.
When ingested with food or drink, cannabis oil is processed by the liver, causing effects to land up to two hours after ingestion and stick around for up to six hours. By comparison, effects from cannabis-oil drops placed under the tongue land within roughly 10-20 minutes and stick around for roughly 2-3 hours.