Frequently Asked Questions
I have written this list of FAQ's in response to the high demand for cannabis oil to help treat medical conditions. I have written using the example of cancer, as that is my main field of experience but it could apply to almost any illness. The following assumes that the person asking questions is looking for oil, has no previous experience whatsoever, and is in the UK.
The following is not intended to replace professional medical advice.
Help! My friend/ sister/mother/ I have just been diagnosed with cancer. Where can I buy cannabis oil?
I'm sorry to say, you can't. If you try to purchase some from anyone you meet on the Internet- including the dark web, forums about oil, or people approaching you, you are very likely to get ripped off. This is a completely unregulated industry and as such, there is no protection against scammers. You are likely to be sold olive oil, or worse- dirty, badly filtered, unflushed, unpurged badly made and heavily diluted 'cannabis' oil. You could lose money and put your health at risk. It's not worth it unless you have a very trusted source.
So how do I get it? It's an emergency
The only trusted way to obtain cannabis oil is to make it yourself, or have some friends/ family make it for you.
Isn't it difficult/ dangerous?
Yes and no. It's a bit fiddly but no more difficult than following a cake recipe. If you take the necessary precautions, you can make it perfectly safely.
Do you need to use explosives?
If you are using a method that involves an alcoholic solvent, for example isopropyl alcohol, it's highly flammable but not explosive. You will need good ventilation, an outside space for some of the procedure, and it's helpful to have an organic vapour mask.
Where do I find the right type of cannabis?
If time is of the essence, don't wait until you find the 'perfect' strain. Just use whatever you can get to begin with, as long as it is of decent quality. At the bare minimum you need properly flushed, properly dried cannabis. This means it won't have any fertilisers left in the plant material and it won't be damp. Concern yourself with finding the right type when you have the time.
If it's not an emergency, and over the long term, you need to think about what you are addressing and what you are hoping to achieve. Generally speaking, high THC is good for pain relief, improving appetite and reducing nausea. High CBD is good for reducing inflammation. The two main cannabinoids work together and make each other more effective.
Indica strains are better for relaxation and sleep- they work well for nighttime.
Sativa strains are better for energy and alertness- good for daytime.
Hybrids are a mix of the two. Most strains are hybrids.
But I don't know anyone who has any!
Everyone knows someone who knows someone. If you have grown up children, ask your kids friends or your friends kids.
If you really don't have any contacts, approach your local cannabis club.
It's expensive and I don't have much money.
To get started, you just need a small amount. Try to get half an ounce or an ounce to begin with. If this is going to be a long term need, you need to start planning to become self sufficient (grow your own). Then you are taking control of your own health.
When I first started, we had no money, so I did a fundraiser. I illegally crowdfunded my Mum’s health back :) Make a private FB group, add your friends and family, and explain the situation. Arrange a fundraiser night and do a raffle. Ask local restaurants for a dinner for 2 and use the meals as prizes. Make a gofundme account and ask for money for alternative herbal treatments. I have done or helped to do all of these things.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Don't be too proud- people like feeling like they are helping.
Will it make me/ my mum/ my friend incapable of functioning?
If you have no previous experience of cannabis, you are likely to have no tolerance.
In this case, the first time you use oil, if you take anything other than a tiny dose, you are likely to get inebriated yes. The effects are mostly pleasurable to most people, and you can build a high tolerance with repeated use in about 6 weeks.
There is a small minority of people who are very sensitive to its effects, find it uncomfortable and difficult to function, and find it almost impossible to build tolerance. Conversely, there are an even smaller minority of people who seem to have a naturally high tolerance and who won't feel the effects so much. Most people feel the effects as pleasant, especially when consumed with friends and family. If you are apprehensive, why not do it with a friend?
If you need continual, high doses, for example if you are treating stage 4 cancer, you may not be able to drive/ work when on cannabis medicine as you may need to be impaired for quite a lot of the time. All medicines have side effects, cannabis is no different.
If you find the side effects intolerable, or if you just want to take more, there are other options. Doing cannabis oil as a suppository is a very good idea for 2 reasons- it bypasses the liver so avoids most if not all the side effects, and it has the highest rate of absorption. It's recommended to mix the oil down 1 part canna to 5 parts coconut oil as this will increase the bioavailability of the oil.
What if I take too much?
There is no harmful lasting effects to taking too much cannabis oil. It's completely safe at any dosage. The worldwide death rate for cannabis overdose is zero. Compare to the death rate for pharmaceutical medicine- 22,000 per year in the United States alone.
Having said that, it can feel very unpleasant if you accidentally ingest too much. It can make your mind race, increase your heart rate (which can mimic the effects of a panic attack) make you feel dizzy and sick and put you off taking it again. Almost 100% of the time, if you take too much the first time you try it, it will put you off entirely and you won't want to continue. This is a massive shame, so it's very important that you start small and increase incrementally.
If you do take too much, try sucking on a black peppercorn and remind yourself that it is not dangerous at all, and the medicine is still working on the inside.
There is also a supplement called citicoline which helps to mitigate the 'high' associated with THC.
How much will it cost?
1 ounce of cannabis will generally yield 3-4.5g of oil- so it depends how much you're starting materials cost.
Will it interact with my other medicines?
Cannabis doesn't have many contraindications with other medicines. The notable ones are;
If you are taking medicine for high blood pressure, when you take cannabis oil it can make your blood pressure too low- which can lead to dizziness etc. Most people find that slowly tapering the conventional high blood pressure meds down, whilst slowly increasing their tolerance to cannabis medicine, will avoid any unwanted dips in blood pressure.
As cannabis boosts the effects of opiates, if you are using morphine for pain relief, it can make the morphine more effective. If you are using high doses of both, it can cause an overdose on morphine. This can be avoided, by again tapering down the doses of conventional opiate based painkillers whilst increasing the dose of cannabis medicine. A bit of both at the same time, if needed, is fine. My mum weaned herself off maximum doses of morphine using cannabis oil in less than a week, with no side effects.
Will it cure me?
Cannabis oil can be a very effective form of treatment for cancer, especially when used in conjunction with a healthy diet. It can boost the effectiveness of chemo/radiotherapy while minimising the side effects. It can kill cancer cells when taken in high doses.
Cancer is a complex disease, and all cancers are different. Although cannabis seems to treat most if not all cancers, the word cure is misleading.
Nothing can 'make' you better. The body heals itself given the right conditions. Cannabis provides the right conditions for health. This is a simplified explanation. We all have an endocannabinoid system. If yours is perfectly functioning, you don't need to supplement your diet with exogenous phytocannabinoids (found in the plant).
If your endocannabinoid system isn't functioning well, supplementation with cannabis will help your body heal and become asymptomatic from many ailments/diseases. It will also help to improve appetite, sleep pattern, and mood.
In regards to cancer specifically, the reason cannabis works is that THC promotes apoptosis (programmed cell death) and CBD discourages angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and promotes apoptosis but critically, only in diseased cells. Cannabis does not target healthy cells. (Unlike chemotherapy which is non selective and wipes out all fast growing cells.)
The combination of THC and CBD works brilliantly to fight cancer.
It's worth noting that oestrogen driven cancers need high CBD oil.
It's important to have realistic expectations of what cannabis can do. If you are unwilling to change your diet from an unhealthy one to a clean one, or don't give up smoking/ drinking/ taking drugs/ whatever may have contributed to a disease state in the first place, you can't expect cannabis to be a miracle cure. On the other hand, if you are serious about getting well, it could be the secret weapon in your disease fighting arsenal that makes all the difference.
For some people, it's simply too late. If you have had cancer for years, have been through endless rounds of chemo, and have been given a terminal diagnosis, cannabis may help improve your quality of life and give you some more time, but it may not make your cancer go away.
I don't have time to get the equipment and make it- I need it right now!
A good way to make some cannabis medicine if you haven't got the correct equipment and conditions for making FECO (Full Extract Cannabis Oil) yet, is to make some cannabis infused coconut oil. You don't need anything except an ovenproof dish with a lid, a thermometer, a sieve, a bit of muslin, (a tea towel will work if you have nothing else) an oven, some coconut oil and some well dried cannabis.
This can be made in a day. It's not as strong, but if you or your loved one has no tolerance yet, that's fine. It's a good entry point and will give you the opportunity to see if it is a route you want to go down, and if so, to buy time to get the correct equipment and skills to make your own FECO.
It's worth noting that there is a massive difference between well made oil and badly made oil.
If you do obtain oil, here are a few things to look out for;
If the oil isn't purged properly or for long enough, it will have residual alcohol in which is probably NOT food grade. Residuals are measured in parts per million but in the absence of a testing facility, there are a few things you can check to see if it's been purged or not
If it's runny when it's cold, it's not 100% oil, indicating either alcohol or a carrier oil in. Neat oil is dark brown and has a solid tar like consistency which goes softer when it's warm.
If it tastes 'metallic' then it's not purged properly. This means it's contaminated with solvent.
If you dip a tiny amount onto a pin head and put it to a flame, the presence of small sparks indicates alcohol in the oil. This is a rudimentary test but better than none.
Another red flag is if the oil is very green. The more green it is, the higher the quantity of chlorophyll and other plant matter present. This means less room for cannabinoids. It may indicate that it's been steeped for a long time- or it may be that it was made with trim or leaves. Trim run oil is fine for less serious conditions (if the starting material was good) but won't be strong enough for cancer.
A recommended book is The Medical Cannabis Guidebook by Jeff Ditchfield.
Also my Mum’s testimonial is on YouTube, it's called Mama Jo's Testimonial and goes into detail about how cannabis oil helped her recover from stage 4 peritoneal cancer.
I hope these pointers will help you to navigate the minefield of conflicting information and put you on the right course for finding or making your own safe and effective cannabis medicine.