As the cannabis industry continues to expand, there are new and more innovative ways to enjoy the benefits of cannabis. Cannabis extracts and concentrates have higher levels of cannabinoids, the components that affect your mind and body. Each offers a unique experience based on the level of THC and how it is ingested.

Here is a breakdown of how these cannabis products work so you can make the right choice and enjoy the full benefits.

Cannabis Concentrates

Concentrates take the most valuable parts of the cannabis plants to create a wide range of products. It is created from a concentrated mass of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD). These concentrates have very high levels of THC reaching levels of almost 80%.

Concentrates are made through several processes including drying, heat or the use of solvents to extract the high levels of THC. The extraction process creates a wax-like substance similar to honey that can be further processed for oils, waxes or vapour.

Types of Cannabis Concentrates

There are many different forms of cannabis concentrate that can be used for both recreational and medical purposes.

Some of the more popular types include:

  • Hash – made from drying the cannabis plant and sifting the particles to collect the essence.
  • Cannabis Flower Essential Oil – often used for medical purposes due to the high antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
  • Kief or Cannabis Crystals – often used to make products via infusions such as cookies, brownies and other edibles
  • Tinctures/Sprays – created when the cannabis extract is dissolved in a solvent such as alcohol to create other products
  • Topicals – created using alcohol, oil or wax for the use on skin.

Cannabis Oils

Cannabis Oils, often referred to as CBD oil is a naturally occurring cannabinoid which is extracted from cannabis plants. CBD does not produce the same psychoactive effects of THC and does not produce a high. Users of CBD experience a calming and relaxing sensation. It has become a more common form of treatment for many serious illnesses and diseases due to its ability to control pain and reduce stress.

Both traditional and non-traditional is using CBD to treat:

  • Seizures/Epilepsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anxiety

It is also used in the treatment of childhood epilepsy in cases where traditional antiseizure medications do not work.

Side Effects

CBD users will not experience a high like they would get from THC. However, there are still some possible side effects from use. Side effects from CBD can include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Upset stomach
  • Tiredness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Crankiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness

How is CBD Oil Available?

CBD oil is available in many forms which are designed to give different experiences and feelings. CBD can be taken in drops, capsules, edibles, topically, mixed with tobacco products or by vaping.

THC Oil

THC oils are highly concentrated cannabis extracts that have mind-altering effects, unlike CBD oil which provides a feeling of relaxation. THC creates the feeling of being high or euphoric. It is made by extracting the resin of female marijuana plants using alcohol.

The health community continues to test the effectiveness of THC oil on the treatment of complex medical conditions.

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Nerve Pain
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Nausea
  • Glaucoma

THC is also an effective treatment in health conditions that can lead to loss of appetite such as cancer and HIV. It’s important to understand that, not everyone experiences the effects of THC in the same way. Some people may have little to no effect while others may have a severe reaction.

Side Effects

THC can cause:

  • Problems with concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Balance
  • Memory Loss

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil is similar to CBD, as it does not contain mind-altering elements like THC. It is made from hemp seed, not an extract of the cannabis plant. Hemp oil is commonly used topically to soothe skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is used for treatments of:

  • Acne
  • Psoriasis
  • Skin Inflammation
  • Atopic dermatitis

Cannabis Extracts

Cannabis extracts come in many consumption forms including solids and liquids.

Solid

  • Hash or Hashish
  • Shatter
  • Wax
  • Honeycomb
  • Budder

Liquid

  • Oils for use in vaping

Tinctures

  • Sprays or Drops

Dabbing

A more recent form of vaping that requires a water pipe or dab rig, heating element, torch and a dab tool. These extracts are created by isolating and removing cannabinoids and terpenes through a concentration process such as drying.

The effects of cannabis extracts can often take longer than traditional forms such as smoking where the THC is absorbed into the lungs and affects the brain almost instantly, while extract users may not feel the effects for up to four hours as the body processes and absorbs the extract.

Is It Legal To Purchase Cannabis Extracts/Concentrates/Oils in Canada?

Canada legalized the purchase of cannabis products in 2017. However, all cannabis products must be purchased from a provincially recognized and licensed retailer. There are strict regulations on content, packaging, labelling and promotion of cannabis extracts.

Ingested cannabis extract THC content:

  • limit of 10 milligrams per unit (e.g. a capsule) or dispensed amount
  • a limit of 1000 mg per package
  • Inhaled cannabis extract THC content:
  • a limit of 1000 mg of THC per package

Which Is The Right Choice For Me?

There are risks associated with all cannabis products. The high levels of THC make concentrates particularly potent and they should be used with caution and under the guidance of a medical or cannabis professional.

Some medical professionals see extracts as a safer alternative to smoking cannabis which can damage the lungs similarly to cigarettes. However, the high concentration in extracts from THC may lead to overconsumption.

According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSUA), daily or near-daily use of high-strength cannabis extracts, such as wax, shatter and budder can increase your tolerance to THC.

This can lead to the body becoming immune to the effects requiring higher and higher doses in order to experience the positive effects of THC.

It is recommended to instead use lower-strength cannabis products with less than 2.5 mg THC for those that are ingested and 100 mg/g (10%) of THC or less for products to be inhaled.

The CCSUA also notes that using high-strength cannabis extracts can lead to dependence, such as frequent cravings and withdrawal. By choosing to use cannabis extracts, you are better able to control the dosage and therefore experience better results.

When choosing a concentrate/oil or extract it is important to talk with a medical professional or cannabis expert. Each offers different health and recreational benefits.