Where to Buy Cannabis Oil: Complete Guide to Potency & Quality

cannabis oil complete guide to potency and quality

When looking up where to buy cannabis oil, the first thing to define is what kind of cannabis oil you have in mind. A wide variety of oils and extracts related to the cannabis plant have flooded the market. All can rightfully be referred to as cannabis oil, while being significantly different from one another.

The cannabis oil family is a jolly bunch of cannabinoid-containing potions and extracts, each with their unique personality traits. Telling them apart is what we’ll take a closer look at here, as well as where to buy each type.

Cannabis is far from boring, you have to give it that!

It truly is one of the most versatile plants on earth. We can use it for food/nutrition, cosmetics, as a medicinal herb, and even for the fabrication of building materials, rope and fabric.

The medicinal use of cannabis is one the most important uses. Stress, anxiety, insomnia, pain management, nausea are just a handful of the many symptoms it can help with, as reported by a large (and ever increasing) base of enthusiastic users.

Prime example: the first page of Google

Here’s a screenshot of the first page of Google at the time of writing. It’s a prime example of the things mentioned above. You’ll see cannabis oils in all kinds of strenghts and concentrations, a myriad of brands. The manufacturing process and the quality vary widely and so do the intended uses.

Some oils come in large bottle, others in a small ones, in dropper bottles, capsules, or vape cartridges. Some are cheap, others very expensive. Thick and sticky, concentrated, macerated, containing CBD, THC, both, or neither.

where to buy cannabis oil overview search result

In going over these oils, we’ll look into the available options for buying some. Certain types of cannabis oil can easily be found online. Others – any type of THC-containing oil – are severely restricted and only available for purchase in areas where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use.

In the USA, more and more state laws now allow recreational and/or medical marijuana use, while it is still illegal on a federal level. Things are moving in the right direction, though.

Cannabis oil variables

The variables that distinguish various kinds of cannabis oil are:

  • Which parts of the cannabis plant an oil is made from, as these have different properties and characteristics.
  • The process used to make the oil, which leads to differences in consistency, potency, and purity.
  • Last but not least, the type of cannabis plant is a huge distinguishing factor. This has to do with different types of cannabis containing different cannabinoids.

Below, we’ll be looking at various substances often referred to as cannabis oil, and clear up some confusion.

The Cannabis Family

Carolus Linnaeus came up with a two-part naming system for animals and botanicals in 1753. We use these Latin names, often called scientific names, across all languages ever since.

Some plants of the cannabis species are called cannabis sativa, others cannabis indica or ruderalis. Recent marijuana strain additions and cross-breeds can be hybrids of two or three of these three types.

CBD oil, THC oil, “honey oil”, Rick Simpson oil, as well as hemp seed oil, are all cannabis oils in that they are made from cannabis plants.

While carrying the same scientific name, they don’t contain the exact same active substances, and that’s where things get foggy.

Cannabis sativa is the name of an entire species, of which there are various breeds. Not all of those breeds contain high levels of the psychotropic cannabinoid THC.

Add to that the various ways of processing a cannabis plant, or parts thereof, each leading to a oily – though slightly different – end product, and it quickly becomes clear why cannabis oil is a confusingly broad term.

The cannabis plant species can be broken down into two types:

1. Agricultural Hemp

If you haven’t been living under a rock during the past decade, you’ve probably heard about hemp making a comeback.

Hemp has been known as very useful throughout history. A very popular crop, it was grown on the wide until the cannabis plant (in all of its forms) was blacklisted. Even the first American presidents grew it!

Part of the Cannabis Sativa family tree, hemp is a tall, stalky, fibrous plant with many uses. It can be made into rope and fabric, or used to make hemp-crete, a type of concrete made with hemp fibers. Hemp seeds and hemp protein powder are very nutritious and most CBD products are made with CBD extracted from hemp.

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Oil or extract from the Cannabis Sativa “Hemp” plant contains different cannabinoids. CBD is the most well-known one. The levels of THC in hemp are not enough to cause a high, as they’re typically less than 0.3%.

The 0.3 percent (or less) of THC may be enough to get you arrested in Dubai, but industrial hemp is not considered an illegal crop in most other countries.

2. Marijuana

The “other” cannabis, or – for clarity’s sake – marijuana.

The term marijuana was brought into the USA by Mexican immigrants at the beginning of the last century and it stuck around.

“Marijuana” cannabis plants are either male or female. (Or hermaphrodite, but that’s slightly off topic.) Because the highest concentration of THC is found in the flowers, the only useful cannabis plant as far as THC goes is a female one.

These cannabis plants are grown for their dried flower a.k.a. buds, weed, herb, ganja or pot. Once dried, cured and ground or picked apart, the flower is what you can smoke (or vape, or eat) to benefit from a psychotropic effect; a mind-blowing experience due to the presence of a cannabinoid called THC.

Different strains have different cannabinoid profiles. Some marijuana is very high in CBD and extremely low in THC, such as Charlotte’s Web or CBDiesel. Others have soaring THC levels (20%+) with barely any CBD. As such, the strength and properties of an oil made from marijuana depend on the profile of the plant material used.

There are so many strengths and variations that it is impossible to make a general assertion about the cannabinoids oil made from marijuana may contain.

Where to buy Cannabis oil of each type & source

THC oil

THC oil is of course all about the one cannabinoid that the cannabis or marijuana plant is famous for.

Tetrahydrocannabinol is the full name of this mind-altering cannabinoid. Hemp contains only trace amounts and the levels of THC in marijuana vary depending on the strain.

Causing a high is THC’s distinctive factor. The workings of other cannabinoids are undeniably more discrete.

While CBD oil manufacturers have made it their corps business to isolate CBD, in the case of THC oil filtering out other cannabinoids isn’t really a thing. Cannabinoids other than THC don’t really interfere with the high, so there is no real reason to spend a lot of time and effort filtering them out.

Where to buy cannabis oil with THC

Cannabis oil with THC can be found legally at medical marijuana dispensaries.

Any product containing THC is considered a schedule 1 drug in a many US states and possession of THC-containing substance is punishable in many countries worldwide.

RSO: Rick Simpson oil

Ric Simpson is a bit of a legend. He has been banned from entering the United States and apparently gives his oil away for free to those who need it to heal their cancer. You may have heard this type of cannabis oil being referred to as RSO, “Rick Simpson oil” or “Phoenix Tears”.

Of course, claiming to be able to cure cancer is a very bold statement. Bold statements require solid evidence, which there is not a lot of at this moment. Definitely do look up the medical research by Dr. Christina Sanchez if you are interested in the potential effect of THC on cancer cells.

Where to buy Rick Simpson oil

RSO is concentrated and very high in THC, which means it is only legal in places where marijuana is too. With Rick Simpson oil being most concentrated in THC, expect for it to be on the pricier end of the spectrum. The better medical marijuana dispensaries may carry some, so be sure to check with your local shops.

How to make Rick Simpson oil

If you are looking to make some yourself, you should know Rick Simpson himself is strongly in favor of using Cannabis Indica strains, and the higher their THC content the better.

In a nutshell, the method he recommends to create a batch of super concentrated cannabis oil goes as following:

  • Dissolve the crystals on cannabis flowers and leaves in alcohol.
  • Filter this liquid to get rid of little floating bits and pieces or sand.
  • Slowly boil off the alcohol, to be left with only the super-concentrated cannabis oil.
  • Try not to blow yourself up in the process.
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Please note these are not meant to be used as directions but merely to give you an idea of how it’s done. Assuming marijuana is legal in your area, this is still a rather hazardous cooking experiment due to the combination of heat and alcohol. Be safe, do some additional research and you should be able to located a great tutorial or two.

Full spectrum cannabis oil

Right now seems like the perfect time to mention the concept of “full spectrum”, because full spectrum can apply to both THC-containing cannabis oil (made from marijuana) and CBD oil (made from hemp).

Full spectrum & Marijuana/THC oil

In the case of cannabis oil made from marijuana, full spectrum is kind of the norm. You’ll be hard pressed to find THC-containing cannabis oil that contains isolated THC and no other cannabinoids.

When marijuana’s dried flower or other plant material is used to create some type of oil or extract, the percentage of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids or terpenes depends on the profile of the strain(s) used.

Isolating THC from the other cannabinoids in marijuana isn’t really a thing. Many marijuana strains are bred to contain very high levels of THC and very low levels of the other cannabinoids. The presence of cannabidiol or CBD doesn’t typically bother those who use marijuana for its THC content.

However, there is reason to believe CBD may somewhat counteract the workings of THC. This can be a good thing, since too much THC may occasionally lead to anxiety. The presence of enough CBD seems to mellow down that effect.

Those prone to THC-induced paranoia should definitely try a strain with a significant amount of CBD, such as CBDiesel or Harlequin.

The bottom line on full spectrum THC oil is that cannabis oil made from marijuana is pretty much full spectrum by default. What exaclty that spectrum looks like depending on the cannabinoid profile of the strain(s) used. As such, it can vary widely. For example, if oil is made from … (4% THC, 4% CBD) or from … (27% THC, 0.2% CBD) the end result will turn out quite differently and have a different effect.

Full Spectrum CBD oil

Full spectrum CBD oil usually refers to oil containing CBD/cannabidiol and all other cannabinoids present in the hemp plant. That’s hemp, not marijuan, an important distinction!

Full spectrum CBD oil typically targets users who aim to avoid ingesting THC and/or getting high. Many report great results with oils or other products containing only CBD (and no other cannabinoids).

Since hemp only contains no more than small traces of THC, full spectrum CBD oil won’t have any psychotropic effect.

CBDPure oil is full-spectrum. It’s also organic (from Colorado-grown hemp) and each batch is tested by a third party. The tests include cannabinoid profiling, screening for pesticides, solvents, impurities and potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi.

With that said, we’re now moving onto the wide variety of (not necessarily full spectrum) CBD-containing cannabis oils.

CBD oil

The term ‘CBD oil’ can be both fairly specific and rather vague, depending on how you look at it.

Specific, because it refers to oil containing CBD. That’s short for cannabidiol, a specific cannabinoid, which is found:

  • in abundance in hemp
  • in even greater abundance in some marijuana strains
  • in trace amounts in certain other marijuana strains (the ones heavily focused on THC).

Vague, however, because there are so many variables that CBD oil has become sort of an umbrella term for CBD-containing substances that are significantly different from each other in potency, consistency, purity or quality.

CBD oil made with cannabidiol extract

Many CBD oils are in fact a blend of CBD extract and other (vegetable) oils. The CBD used in these products is extracted from hemp plants. Once extracted and dissolved in something else, often hemp seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil or safflower oil, the end result is an easy to use mixture of cannabidiol suspended in another edible oil.

Where to find CBD oil

This is CBD extract suspended in olive oil. It says “CBD oil” on the front, “hemp derived CBD oil” on the other side of the label, and the ingredients can be found in the description: Hemp Oil (Aerial Plants Parts), Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Vegetarian Softgel (Vegetable Cellulose, Water), Silica.

Plus CBD oil softgels

Here is another example of CBD oil made with hemp extract in grapeseed oil, MCT oil, and sunflower oil. The dropper bottle below contains a whopping 1000mg of CBD, extracted from industrial hemp.

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hemp extract cbd oil 1000mg with coconut sunflower grapeseed

Concentrated CBD oil

The strongest and most concentrated type of CBD oil is thick, dark in color and somewhat resinous/sticky in consistency. It’s still made from hemp again, not marijuana, though concentrated CBD oil is the pure extract, not CBD dissolved in a carrier oil.

Where to buy concentrated cannabis oil made from hemp

Syringes with concentrated CBD oil can be found online.

These concentrated cannabis oils are comparable to the famous Rick Simpson oil in consistency, with the major difference of not being illegal. The crucial difference is that these products do not contain any THC. Instead, they’re loaded with CBD. While the consistency is similar to RSO, these concentrated cannabis oils are made from hemp and aim to deliver high doses of CBD and other cannabinoids.

The highest concentration of hemp extract on the market, CBD concentrate can be consumed sublingually (under the tongue). Or, if you prefer, it also lends itself to be vaporized with a dabbing pen.

cbd oil concentrate

Hemp (seed) oil

Hemp seed oil technically qualifies as cannabis oil, considering the hemp plant’s scientific name Cannabis Sativa. It is pressed from seeds of agricultural hemp.

These seeds do not contain any THC and don’t have any psychotropic effect; in fact, they don’t contain any of the other, non-psychotropic cannabinoids such as CBD either.

Even though hemp oil is simply a pressed nut oil without cannabinoids, that’s not to say it doesn’t have some great properties. It is superb for skin care and very nutritious as part of our diet.

It belongs in the same category as other vegetable and nut oils such as olive oil, walnut oil, or coconut oil, and is a popular ingredient in skin care products.

Hemp seed oil has numerous health benefits on a nutritional level. Rich in omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9, hemp seed oil (as well as hemp seed, by the way) is a great source of essential fatty acids.

The oil does not have a very long shelf life and should be kept in the fridge. To preserve the nutritional value of the omega’s and other components, it is best used cold, for example in salad dressings. My favorite brand is Nutiva organic hemp oil.

Hemp seed oil is often abbreviated to ‘hemp oil’ but some full spectrum CBD oils are also labeled as ‘hemp oil’, which can be confusing.

Where to find hemp seed oil

That’s an easy one: it can be found all over the internet, and – depending on where you live – all over town. Nutiva makes some great organic hemp oil. It’s easy to find on Amazon, iHerb, Vitacost or Lucky Vitamin.

Good to know

For a good understanding of the value of any given cannabis oil product, be sure to calculate its potency to compare strength & actual cost. The label should list how many milligrams of canabidiol are in the entire bottle, or in one serving.

The better brands will always be transparent about the rigin of the cannabis oil, extract, or other ingredients they use in their products. If things are unclear, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.

Test reports of individual batches, as well as information on how often cannabis extract is tested, are often available through the individual websites of manufacturers and retailers. Again, transparency is what distinguishes the better brands from the rest. At Made by Hemp you can view such test reports. Another great example of a high quality company is CBDPure.

By Felis Cannabis

Hi, Felis Cannabis here. This little corner of the web is my scratch pole. The legalize movement is growing, but not fast enough for me to give up the incognito status just yet. ;-) Let's keep at it! We should have the right to use any plant we choose.