We’ve seen it time and time again. We’ve received countless emails from people who have been ripped off for CBD Oil or THC Oil, everywhere from San Diego to San Francisco. Hemp oil, it’s often misnamed. This article is here to serve as a buying guide for THC Oil, CBD Oil, or any cannabis product. The goal is to teach you how to properly shop for high-quality cannabis oil that is safe to ingest. Most people are seeking these oils for serious conditions such as cancer and epilepsy, yet so few of these people know which questions to ask to make sure they don’t purchase a poor product. If you’re interested in learning how to make Rick Simpson Oil on your own, check out our post on that here.
Ok, let’s get started. The theory is simple here. The cannabis plant secretes an oil. We want to get that oil off the plant and into a concentrated form. Ok, sounds easy enough, how do we do it? Not so fast! There are many different ways to do this. There are two main things we want to focus on here: the starting material and the extraction method.
Let’s begin with the starting material because that is the shortest, easiest point to make. Cannabis oil (THC or CBD, doesn’t matter) can be produced using a variety of plant material: sticks and stems, flowers, trim and shake.
Now, we can make different oils from each of these different starting plant materials and they will all look almost identical. They’ll be a tinted brown color and are usually found in a 1 milliliter syringe, but the contents of each is very different. Only premium flowers (actual buds) from the female cannabis plant are sufficient in creating oils for strict protocols such as the Rick Simpson Oil Formula, which is typically used for serious conditions and consumed by oral ingestion rather than smoking. We’ve heard of THC oil consumed in many ways: smoked in a vape pen, swallowed from an oral syringe, applied topically on the skin, anal suppository, vaginal suppository and the list goes on. For most vape products or concentrates for smoking, trim or shake is typically used because it is the cheapest plant material available. Trim or shake typically costs only $100-$200 per pound while actual premium flowers can cost $2,000-$3,000 per pound. This difference in cost of the starting material dictates the cost of the end product. Vape or concentrate oils can be found for $40-$65 per gram typically. Flower or bud only formulas such as the Rick Simpson Formula typically cost around $80-$100 per gram.
Below, you can see examples of three different methods used to produce marijuana oils. Each has its pros and cons depending on how you plan to consume it.
Distilled Method | The distilled method results in the highest purity achieving 95% plus purity. This rids the oil of many of the other features such as natural plant oils and characteristics to preserve the THC for maximum potency. This removes the other cannabinoids, plant waxes and fats, as well as chlorophyll leaving only THC or CBD, depending on which variety of oil you are making.
Co2 Method | The Co2 method typically results in the lowest potency of THC or CBD and has a large concentration of plant waxes and fats, with little chlorophyll. This method leaves an amber color.
RSO Method | The RSO method preserves a small amount of plant waxes and fats while also containing chlorophyll which is what gives it it’s dark color. With proper attention, these oils can achieve over 90% potency. There are many examples of poor quality RSO oils that we have seen that only test 30-40% potency. This is why its important to have a lab test showing the contents and the purity.
On CBD Oils
CBD occurs naturally in female marijuana plants as well as in the male hemp plant. Female marijuana plants have a full spectrum of other cannabinoids (active components in marijuana) that contribute to the effectiveness of the oil. Only the female cannabis plant secretes the quality medicine we are targeting. If it was derived from male hemp, there is much debate about the effectiveness of the oil for serious conditions due to the lack of other cannabinoids being present and the purity of the oil.
The next important thing to know when shopping for THC and CBD oils is what type of extraction solvent was used in making this oil. Many studies are now available that warn us of the threat of cannabis oil extractions made with toxic solvents. Here is one of the studies about extraction solvents you can check out. Basically, it says daily consumption of extracted oils do contain trace levels of those extraction solvents. There are many different chemical agents that can be used to strip the desired oil from the plant matter. Everything from oils, glycerins, alcohols, gases, and petroleum byproducts can be used to do this. Many of these solvents are known to be toxic and even carcinogenic. The moral dilemma is that the cheapest and most accessible extraction solvents are the most toxic. Sadly, these are also the most commonly used types of extraction methods. So, knowing and trusting the person who is responsible for extracting your medicine is critical. If you don’t know who made it or how it was made, it’s probably not the best oil. For the best and safest extraction solvent we recommend an organic alcohol with a high proof. You can use something as simple as everclear from the local grocery store or a specialty organic alcohol which can be found from various websites online.
If they can’t tell you exactly what solvent was used, turn and run. The most popular solvents that self-proclaimed extraction artists have been using for years are now proving to be very harmful to our health. There’s a million ways to skin the cat when extracting cannabis oil, so make sure you know what they’re using and research it to make sure it’s safe.
Now, anytime there’s a million ways to skin the cat, there’s also a million ways to screw it up. The process of making cannabis oil isn’t necessarily difficult, it just takes a careful and constant eye. One very important thing to note is the temperature of the oil during the process. Too low and the acids inside the oil will not fully mature into THC and CBD that give us the medicinal benefits. Too high and you can burn off beneficial cannabinoids or medicine. If the cannabis oil is cooked outside the temperature parameters, the oil can be made very ineffective so be sure of this if you are making your own or getting it from someone else. The proper temperature for activating the medicine is 240 fahrenheit.
There are a few ways to make sure the oil you are getting was made with a careful eye. Most importantly, look for a lab test. Good quality THC and CBD oil, if properly done, should be a bare-minimum of 70% combined cannabinoids. Here is a sample of one of our potency tests coming in at just over 90%.
How much should you pay for a gram of high quality oil?
That’s actually a trick question! It’s also the question that we hear people asking every single day. Well, that is the wrong question to ask when shopping for oil. You see, “the gram of oil” just tells us how much the lump of brown sticky stuff weighs. That is not what we’re after. The correct question to ask is how many milligrams of active ingredient are in the gram of oil.
Patient: How many milligrams of active THC and CBD are in one gram of oil?
Collective Representative: Hmm, i’m not really sure. The guy that dropped it off to us said he’s been doing it for years, so it’s gotta be good.
Patient: Umm, you just repeated the….never mind. I think I am going to do some more research, thanks! Click!
Once you know the potency of the oil by observing the lab test, you can determine whether or not you are paying a fare rate for THC or CBD oil. Here is the simple math:
(Cost per gram of oil / Milligrams of active ingredient) = Cost per milligram of THC or CBD
$90 gram of oil / 80% Potency or 800mg = 11 cents per milligram
This equation works for THC or CBD oil, either one. From our research, the fair and average THC market rate is between 10 cents per milligram (low) and 20 cents per milligram (high). For CBD, we found the fair and average market rate to be between 15 cents per milligram (low) and 25 cents per milligram (high).
With this information, you should be able to start recognizing good and bad deals on oil. For example, if you see an oil costing $30 or $40 a gram and no potency testing is provided, ask yourself if the math makes sense given everything we now know about cannabis oil now.
In the future, we would like to see a market rate established for THC and for CBD that all of us cannabis pioneers can base our work on. Setting a market rate for these medicines will allow us to estimate research and production costs more accurately. This would also stabilize and add legitimacy to an otherwise chaotic market.
Don’t forget if you want to learn how to make Rick Simpson Oil on your own you can read our article on that here.