Materials & Use

What is Cannabis Oil and Hemp CBD Oil? Everything You Need to Know

Gabi Antunes

Aug 18, 2019

The growth of the legal cannabis industry has brought innovation to the world of cannabis products, perhaps most noticeably with the development of concentrates such as cannabis oil. Cannabis oils are diverse products celebrated for their wide application of uses, from sublingual administration to incorporation in foods to special blends designed for vaping. Whether cannabis oil is used to infuse other products or on its own, it has become a central product in the rapidly-growing cannabis market. But what exactly is cannabis oil, where does it come from, and how can it be used?

What is Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil refers to the concentrated extract of a cannabis plant. Using a solvent, extractors draw out the compounds in the plant, including cannabinoids like Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). The resulting oil contains the same levels of compounds found in the source plant, including the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids responsible for the aroma and flavor of the plant.

Cannabis oil can be used in a variety of ways. Some people prefer to ingest it orally, either placed under the tongue or infused in beverages and foods. Others prefer to vaporize cannabis oil, which requires a special blend of cannabis concentrate designed for inhalation, as well as the use of an electronic vaporizer compatible with concentrate materials.

What is the Difference Between Hemp Oil and Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis and hemp CBD oils come in many different compound profiles based on the cultivar of cannabis from which it was derived. Industrial hemp oil is an oil drawn from cultivars of Cannabis sativa L bred to contain 0.3% or less THC. Industrial hemp cultivars vary in the levels of other compounds, including cannabinoids like CBD, terpenes, and flavonoids. However, based on the legal definition, industrial hemp derived cannabis oils cannot contain more than the 0.3% threshold of THC.

Marijuana oil, on the other hand, refers to any cannabis oil derived from plants with higher levels of THC. These types of cannabis oil can vary greatly in their compound profiles as well. Just as there are many cultivars of marijuana that range greatly in their levels of cannabinoids and other compounds, so too are there a wide range of cannabis oils derived from these cultivars.

The distinction between hemp-derived CBD oil and marijuana-derived cannabis oil is important, both legally and for the consumer. The two variants vary widely in terms of availability and product content.

Where Does Cannabis Oil Come From?

Cannabis oil is sourced directly from cannabis plants grown in states with legal medical or adult-use cannabis programs. The compounds that are ultimately extracted already exist in the same levels within the plant, extractors merely use a solvent to draw those compounds out into a concentrated form. From there, the resulting concentrate is refined to isolate specific compounds and filtered to remove unwanted elements like fats and lipids. Once filtered, the mixture is heated to dissolve the solvent, leaving behind the cannabis oil.

The chemical make-up of the source plant generally determines the chemical make-up of the concentrate prior to any additional refining techniques an extractor might perform. For example, a source plant high in CBD would generally produce an extract that is also high in CBD. In addition, the same terpenes and flavonoids present in that plant would be present in the extract, emphasizing the flavors and aromas found naturally within the source plant.

What is the Most Widely Known Hemp CBD and Cannabis Oil?

Consumers have many types of oil products to choose from. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of oil:

  • Cannabis oil tinctures: Tinctures are made from cannabis extract dissolved in a carrier oil. These tinctures are used for oral ingestion or mixed into foods for an edible product. Some consumers use these oils topically as well.
  • Cannabis oil for vaping: Cannabis oils intended for vaporization are very different from those intended for oral ingestion. Typically dissolved in thinner substances, these vape liquids are intended for use with electronic vaporizers, rather than for oral ingestion.
  • Hemp-derived CBDoil: Hemp-derived CBD oil contains 0.3% or less THC and generally heightened levels of CBD. These oils are derived from cultivars known as industrial hemp. While these cultivars vary widely in their specific compound profiles, they all contain little to no THC, depending on how they’re processed. Hemp-derived oil is often referred to as hemp CBD oil. Ingestible tinctures and vaping products are available in the states that permit hemp CBD oil in these forms.
  • Marijuana-derived cannabis oil: Marijuana-derived oils, by contrast, contain higher levels of THC because marijuana contains higher levels of THC than industrial hemp. These types of oils also vary widely in their compound profiles based on the cultivar of the source plant. However, these products are only legal in states that have legalized medical or adult-use cannabis. In medical-only states, you require a medical marijuana ID card to obtain marijuana-derived cannabis oil. Ingestible tinctures and vaping products may be available.

Each type of oil is suitable for different types of uses and experiences. Understanding which is right for you is key before trying to obtain a specific product. Consider your needs and intended uses before selecting a cannabis or hemp CBD oil product.

Where Can You Obtain Cannabis or Hemp CBD Oil?

Where you can obtain these oils vary depending on the type of oil you are looking for and the laws and regulations that govern the distribution of the oils in your market. Where cannabis is illegal, for example, it is not possible to acquire oil sourced from marijuana plants. However, consumers may be able to obtain an industrial hemp-derived CBD oil that contains less THC than this legal limit.

Extracts from industrial hemp were removed from the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in December 2018 with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. However, local and state laws might still restrict the availability of hemp-derived CBD oils as well. It is important to check your state’s laws before attempting to purchase hemp-derived CBD oil.

Hemp-derived CBD oil is often readily available in states that allow the sale of hemp CBD in a variety of forms. However, cannabis oil, which contains more than 0.3% THC is only available in a licensed medical or adult-use dispensary where cannabis is legal. If you live in a medical marijuana state, you’ll need a medical marijuana ID card to obtain these oils. Where adult-use is legal, cannabis oil is generally available in local dispensaries for people 21 years of age and older. However, availability is always subject to the specific rules of each state.

Uses of Hemp CBD or Cannabis Oil

Cannabis or hemp CBD oils are versatile products that can be used in several ways but only in states that permit the various uses. Common uses include sublingual administration, the addition in smoothies or other food, or vaping an oil suitable for that purpose. To vaporize these oils, you’ll need a special kind that’s formulated for inhalation; oils intended for oral ingestion are not suitable for vaporization.

To vaporize cannabis oil, you’ll need cannabis oil vape liquid or a pre-filled cartridge and an electronic vaporizer that is compatible with the concentrate of your choice. Load your device in accordance with the instructions in your owner’s manual. Once the cannabis oil is loaded in your vape, turn it on and select your desired temperature setting. When your vape heats, the oil will reach its boiling point and turn into a vapor that can be inhaled through the device’s mouthpiece. When your session is complete, clean your vape carefully as described in your owner’s manual and store it safely for future sessions.

However, you choose to use cannabis or hemp CBD oil is a matter of personal preference. Cannabis and hemp CBD oil is showing up as an ingredient in many cannabis products, in states that allow their use. Whether designed for oral ingestion or inhaled, these oils are making a splash in legal markets.