Cannabis Oil: A Versatile Way to Consume Cannabis

By Alex Halperin May 1, 2020

Cannabis oil is a versatile extract with many functions. From medicinal and recreational consumption to industrial uses that range from biofuels and textiles for clothing, the cannabis plant, once a staple raw material of industry, is making a comeback. 

When it comes to using cannabis medicinally or recreationally, there are numerous ways to administer the plant. They include smoking joints and eating marijuana edibles as well as using tinctures and creams. 

Among them cannabis oils are surging in popularity due to their versatility. Before diving deep into what cannabis oils and how they can be beneficial, let’s take a step back and understand what they are. 

What is Cannabis Oil?

Cannabis oil is a compound extracted from the cannabis plant. The chemical compounds found in, and potency of, each batch of oil depend on the plant from which it was extracted. Cannabis oils can be made from plants high in THC and used as the oil in vape pens for people looking to get high. Alternatively, the oils can be extracted from high CBD plants used by patients looking to benefit from the wellness properties of that chemical. 

Types of Cannabis Oils

There are numerous different oils that can be extracted from the cannabis plant. Like the plant itself, the oils can vary greatly depending on which part of the plant is extracted and how the oil will be applied.

Cannabis Oil

Although a name with broad applications, cannabis oil often refers to the extract that will get the user high, or provide medical symptom support. These oils can be consumed in a variety of different ways. Cannabis oil can be smoked, vaped, eaten, and applied to the skin. Most often, oils applied to the skin or used as a salve don’t result in intoxication, while smoked, vaped, or eaten may produce intoxication, depending on the THC levels in the extract. 

This kind of oil is not necessarily legal everywhere and will depend on the laws of each state or country. In the US, for example, hash oil can only be sold in the states where cannabis has been legalized for recreational purposes. It is considered an illegal substance at the federal level.

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil comes from hemp seeds, which are naturally high in oil content but don’t have the cannabinoids that people typically associate with cannabis: THC or CBD. Hemp seed oil is rich in omegas and fatty acids, making it a great cooking substitute in place of olive oil. Hemp oil also has high levels of protein. 

Even though hemp oil doesn’t have the wellness-associated properties of CBD, many people will use the oil as a base to infuse CBD. This way, they are able to create tinctures to help them with their underlying medical conditions. 


THC oil is made from cannabis flowers that have high levels of THC concentration, the cannabinoid most responsible for the cannabis euphoria. People looking to get high using THC oil can find vape cartridges, tinctures, and other forms of the oil at dispensaries in states where cannabis has been legalized recreationally. THC oil can also be made at home, giving people an easy opportunity to press their own cannabis flowers into oils that can be used in a variety of different applications. 


CBD oil has taken the US by storm in recent years. Even in states where cannabis isn’t legal for medicinal or recreational purposes, you can find CBD oils in pharmacies, grocery stores, and even at the mall. 

CBD oil is used to treat a large number of different health issues and ailments (although in many cases the evidence is anecdotal), ranging from anxiety and depression to pain, insomnia, and beyond. One thing that you won’t get, however, from consuming CBD oil, is the high that’s commonly associated with marijuana. The trace amounts of THC for CBD to be legal (less than 0.3% concentration of THC in the plant) is not enough to give users much of a buzz, making CBD oil an option for folks looking to consume CBD without getting high. 

Hash Oil

Hash oil is a powerful substance that is made when the plants’ cannabinoids are stripped from the plant using alcohol. The alcohol is burned away, leaving a sticky and oily residue that is extremely potent and is likely to get the user extremely high. 

Hash oil can be infused into foods, smoked, or administered orally as a tincture. Generally speaking, hash oils are strong and can deliver long-lasting euphoria that is more intense than smoking. 

What Makes Good Cannabis Oil? 

Like any other cannabis product, the quality of the oil depends largely on the quality of the plants. If you are using high-quality buds that have high levels of the cannabinoids, it’s more likely that the oil you buy (or produce at home) will be high quality as well. 

High-Quality Buds

Understanding the kind of effect you are looking for is key to knowing which oil you should buy or make. If you are looking for an oil that can help with your health or wellbeing, choosing CBD oil may be the right choice for you. If you are looking to get high, choosing an oil rich in THC is your best bet. 

Testing different oils is a good way to understand what will work best for you if you plan on buying cannabis oils that are already readily available at dispensaries. Let the budtender know what you are looking for, and they may have some suggestions. 

Good Extraction Process

If you want to produce your own oils at home, you will also want to choose the best cannabis possible. However, even choosing the best buds in the world won’t produce great oils if you don’t extract the oil properly from the plant.

Understanding how to extract cannabis oil from the plant is key to producing an oil that will deliver the desired effect. 

There are multiple ways to extract cannabis oils, ranging from the fast and relatively easy to the much more complicated and costly. The easiest way to extract cannabis oil is to use alcohol, usually ethanol. This can be done at home with relative ease

Cannabis and CBD Oil Benefits

The benefits of cannabis and CBD oils are becoming more apparent as its use becomes more widespread. Although a lot of the evidence is anecdotal and efficacy varies from person to person, the overall reaction and response by people using cannabis oils is overwhelmingly positive. Cannabis oils are natural alternatives to helping people cope with many issues that have grown significantly over the past few years and are only expected to grow even more

Helps Patients with Epilepsy

The FDA approved pharmaceutical Epidiolex, the first pharmaceutical drug with CBD as an active ingredient, can treat rare, severe forms of pediatric epilepsy known as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Medical cannabis advocates hope this will lead to more CBD research and eventually more proven medical uses for the chemical.

Pain and Inflammation Relief

All-natural pain medication is an attractive prospect for many people who suffer from chronic conditions. These alternatives are becoming increasingly appealing and important as addiction and high costs of prescription medications continue to rise

Advocates believe using CBD oil is a great way to treat chronic pain stemming from a range of  diseases and injuries. While some of the  evidence for CBD’s benefits as a pain medication is largely anecdotal , CBD oil has the benefit of helping patients cope with pain that generally requires the use of addictive painkillers and opiates.

How to Use Cannabis Oil

The way cannabis oil is used depends on a variety of factors that range from the effect one is looking to get out of it and how the oil will be consumed. 

One thing that is important to keep in mind, regardless of whether you’re looking to get high or treat anxiety, taking the right dose is important. Taking too much cannabis oil can have  potentially negative effects. 

This is especially true if you are consuming hash oil. Hash oil is very concentrated with high levels of THC. Taking too much can possibly lead to getting “too high” and having a negative experience. 

Cannabis oils can be used in cooking as an oil substitute, smoked or vaped, orally ingested as drops, or rubbed on the skin.  If you’re using it for medicinal purposes, it’s best to discuss why you are using cannabis oils with a doctor.

Is Cannabis Oil Legal in the US? 

The legality of the oil depends on the composition of the oil. CBD oil, for example, is legal in the United States as of 2018 when the Farm Bill was passed into law. That made the production and sale of hemp and CBD products legal on a federal level as long as the THC level was less than 0.3%.

The passing of this law accelerated a boom in the market for CBD products, ranging from edibles and creams to oils, tinctures, and more. CBD oils are legal and sold across the United States and Canada as an all-natural, alternative solution to many health and wellness issues. Individual results may vary since CBD’s benefits are largely anecdotal.

Buying Cannabis Oil in the US

Now that it’s become legal on a federal level, CBD oils can be purchased pretty much anywhere. . You can buy CBD oils at the grocery store, convenience stores, and on the Internet. 

Hash oils and other cannabis oils that have higher levels of THC, on the other hand, which are consumed to get high, are not legal in the US on a federal level. Cannabis oils with higher THC levels are only readily available in the states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, or where there are medical cannabis programs in place.


Cannabis oils can vary dramatically depending on the variables in the cannabis plants they come from. There are as many kinds of oil as there are kinds of buds, each with their own nuances. The experience will differ in how you use the oils, how they’re composed, and what you’re looking to get out of the experience. 

You’ll want to experiment with different kinds of oils before finding the right one for you. This goes for people looking for help with health issues as well as people looking to use hash oil recreationally. 

Make sure to go slow at first and avoid taking too much. Understand from the start that experiences will vary from person to person and even from day to day depending on multiple outside factors like mood and energy levels. Keeping an open mind and being smart about dosing can help you achieve a positive experience. 

Cannabis oils are likely to become more popular, as marijuana becomes legal recreationally available in more states. As that happens, more options will be available. But in the meantime, test different options that are available to you and continue with what works best for your needs and desires.