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What is the best way to produce CBD-rich cannabis oil?

The cannabis oil that is typically available in dispensaries is THC-dominant with little cannabidiol. To extract CBD-rich cannabis oil, one must start with CBD-rich plant material. There many ways to extract oil from the cannabis plant, each has its pros and cons. Some methods are safer and more effective than others. Cannabis oils made with neurotoxic solvents like butane and hexane may leave unsafe residues that interfere with immune function and impede healing. Super-critical CO2 extraction, while non-toxic, requires significant expertise and access to expensive equipment. Home-brewers can also use safer solvents, such as ethanol, or prevent exposure to organic solvents entirely by using olive oil to extract cannabis oil, according to Dr. Arno Hazekamp director of phytochemical research at Bedrocan BV, which supplies cannabis, including a CBD-rich strain, for the Dutch Health Ministry’s medical marijuana program. Hazekamp coauthored this report on cannabis oil extraction methods.

Is a CBD-dominant cannabis strain with very little THC better medicine than a cannabis strain with a fifty-fifty CBD-THC mix?

The best cannabinoid ratio will be dependent on the person and the ailment(s) being treated. There is no “one-size-fits-all” ratio or cannabis preparation that will work best for everyone. Finding the right dose may require some trial and error. Cannabis is personalized medicine, so what works for someone with a given condition may not work for another.

Much of the research indicates that a 1:1 ratio of CBD/THC may be the most beneficial for conditions like cancer, chronic pain, and other situations. CBD and THC work synergistically and amplify one another’s healing properties. They are more potent together than they are by themselves. However, a CBD-dominant extract or strain might be optimal for treating anxiety and mood disorders. A user of CBD medicine would want to cater the ratios of CBD/THC to one that feels comfortable. If someone does not want to have any psychoactive effects at all, a CBD dominant, low THC preparation may be ideal. Additionally, someone may have a need for various CBD/THC ratios for different parts of their day. For example, a user may medicate with an 18:1 CBD:THC ratio for the daytime, and a more THC rich preparation for the nighttime (4:1, 2:1, 1:1, etc).

The ideal CBD:THC ratio for you can also change over the course of your healing process. One may start on a CBD dominant, low THC medicine and find that they want additional analgesic properties, and decide to add some more THC into the mix. Options are key, and patients have the right to access a wide variety of THC/CBD offerings. “CBD Only” does not adequately serve the patient population.

Will I flunk a drug test if I medicate with CBD-rich cannabis?

Drug tests are geared toward identifying THC, not CBD or other cannabinoids. If one medicates with CBD-rich cannabis that has only a small amount of THC, the THC may register on a drug test. If one would like to avoid testing positive, they should discontinue using any cannabis, even if it contains CBD. A drug test geared toward CBD would not be an effective law enforcement tool, given that CBD is not psychoactive and does not cause impairment.

If someone was using pure CBD crystals, it would not show up on a drug test. However, many CBD isolates, if originally derived from cannabis, may still contain trace amounts of THC which may show up on a drug test. Hemp derived products also typically contain small amounts of THC, and some folks have tested positive as a result of their use. Additionally, CBD isolates are not as an effective medicine as compared to whole plant sources of CBD (which include varying amounts of THC). Many patients require the ability to access a wide vary of cannabis options, with various CBD:THC ratios, which demonstrates the unjust policies of drug testing. Unfortunately for medical marijuana users, cannabis compounds stay within your system far longer than the use of other more potentially harmful substances.

I am from a state where medical marijuana is not yet legal. How can I obtain CBD-rich remedies?

To access CBD-rich medicine, one may need to visit—or coordinate with a friend or relative in—Colorado or Washington, where cannabis is legal and available for personal use for those 21 years or older. How one elects to travel with or transport their medication, which is prohibited by federal law, is their own responsibility. High quality CBD-rich products are also readily available in California. In order to be in receipt of any California cannabis product one must be in possession of a valid medical cannabis recommendation letter from a California physician. Some patients and/or caregivers come to California and establish a temporary California residence to obtain a California ID. With this ID, they can see a California medical cannabis expert, get a letter of recommendation, and then obtain CBD-rich medicine. A number of patients and their families have relocated to cannabis-friendly states in order to access CBD-rich medicine on a consistent basis.

Does it matter if CBD is extracted from cannabis or industrial hemp?

Yes, it matters. We recommend CBD-rich products made using only organic, whole plant cannabis because this offers the best safety profile and superior medicinal benefits. CBD products derived from industrial hemp may have several potential problems: Industrial hemp typically contains far less cannabidiol than CBD-rich cannabis strains, so a huge amount of industrial hemp is required to extract a small amount of CBD. This raises the risk of contaminants as hemp is a “bio-accumulator,” meaning the plant naturally draws toxins from the soil. Hemp-derived CBD and refined ‘pure’ CBD powder lack critical medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids found in cannabis oil. These compounds interact with CBD and THC to enhance their medicinal benefits. Many conditions and situations may require a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio (or some other ratio) and hemp doesn't provide this as an option. We feel that cannabis derived CBD medicine gives the full spectrum of options for patients, contains beneficial terpenes, and utilizes the plant (cannabis) for its intended purpose.

In general, we refer to cannabis that has been bred for cannabinoid profile to be called "high resin" type cannabis. Cannabis that has been bred for stalk or seed production is considered "low resin" (industrial hemp). The lines of this become blurry because many manufacturers are growing CBD rich, low THC cannabis (bred for cannabinoid content) and calling it "industrial hemp" to get around regulations in the United States. Plants bred for cannabinoid content are high-resin plants. This includes THC dominant and also CBD rich, low THC chemotypes. Hemp plants are low-resin plants. Industrial hemp has been historically bred for fiber and seed content, not for harvesting the “buds” of the plant. Overall, cannabis that has been bred for cannabinoid content (high resin cannabis- whatever the CBD/THC ratio) is what is best to extract and use for cannabis medicine.

Does CBD interact with other medications?

Yes. CBD inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme, which is involved in metabolizing many drugs. Compounds in grapefruit inhibit the same enzyme group, which is why physicians advice patients not to eat grapefruit shortly before or after taking a medication. By inhibiting cytochrome P450, CBD can either reduce or increase the effects of other drugs. In some situations, it may be advisable for a physician to monitor a patient’s blood levels of other medications while taking CBD.

How do I know what dose of CBD I should take?

Project CBD has published a Cannabis Dosing Guide for patients and health professionals.