Cannabis extracts are created by passing a solvent through finely ground cured or fresh cannabis material, including the flower, leaves, and stems. When made with fresh flowers, extracts are sometimes called live resin. Common solvents include safe choices like CO2 or solvents like butane, hexane, and more that can be toxic if not properly purged from the extract.
Another way to enjoy cannabis extracts is by dabbing them. Dabbing is a form of vaporizing and works on much the same principle as vape pens in that the extract is applied to a heating element in order to cause its vaporization.
What is Cannabis Extract?
It is also possible to add cannabis extract to a joint or blunt. Some users will add their marijuana concentrate to their marijuana flower or other dry herb as they roll their joint or blunt. This works best if you have a messy extract like oil or a crumbly extract like honeycomb and isolates. It is also possible to add cannabis extract to the outside of a joint or blunt, sometimes called twaxing.
In order to get started dabbing, you’ll need a few tools, including a torch similar to those used to make creme brulee, a specially equipped water pipe called a dab rig, and a surface that can be heated like a titanium or ceramic nail or a quartz bucket.
For that reason, it is often suggested that cannabis extracts be added to foods and beverages after they are cooked. This will reduce exposure of cannabinoids to high heat and minimize loss of potency.
Other forms of cannabis are solid and are usually sold either as resin or dried plant material. In commercially-produced medical cannabis oils, the concentrations of CBD and THC tend to be well-controlled, which makes it easy to calculate doses.
Cannabis oils are extracts from cannabis plants. Unprocessed, they contain the same 100 or so active ingredients as the plants, but the balance of compounds depends on the specific plants the oil comes from. The two main active substances in cannabis plants are cannabidiol, or CBD, and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Oil extracted from hemp plants can contain a lot of CBD, while oil from skunk plants will contain far more THC. THC produces the high that recreational cannabis users seek, while oils for medical use contain mostly CBD.
Does it work as a medicine?
CBD is an anticonvulsant, and some other compounds in the plant, including THC and cannabidivarin, may be too. There is good evidence from clinical trials in the US and Europe that pharmaceutical preparations of CBD can treat two severe forms of childhood epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Both forms of epilepsy often fail to improve with existing epilepsy drugs. CBD is generally considered safe, but some trials have reported side effects including dry mouth, lightheadedness and altered liver enzyme activity.
Four drugs based on cannabis compounds are already on the market in Europe. Among them are Nabilone, a synthetic compound that mimics THC, is prescribed for nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and Sativex, an oil that contains equal parts THC and CBD, is used to treat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis. Both contain too much THC to administer to children. “The only medicines that are approved in the UK would get children stoned,” said David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London.
Cannabis oil can only be sold legally in Britain if it contains less than 0.05% THC. But the nation’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, announced recently that even pure CBD could not be sold as a medicine without first going through the usual clinical testing and safety checks required for all new medicines. This month, the US Food and Drug Administration will consider the approval of Epidiolex, a CBD-based medicine from GW Pharmaceuticals, which has completed such clinical trials. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) will rule on the drug early next year. If the EMA approves Epidiolex, it could be available to prescribe to named patients in Britain next year, Brexit notwithstanding.