The best way pharmacists can do better at maxing the opportunity of talking to their patients about medical cannabis is having the knowledge to address the most common questions patients may have. Pharmacists need access and quick responses on how to address patients' questions.
Hemp oil vs. cannabis oil – what's the difference?
Hemp is the common name used for plants of the genus Cannabis. The term is often used to refer to the cannabis strain cultivated only for industrial (non-drug) use. Hence, hemp or industrial hemp is a variety of cannabis that is grown specifically for industrial purposes (to make health foods, textiles, clothing, ropes, paper, biodegradable plastic, paint, etc).
Both recreational cannabis and industrial hemp are both cannabis species
and contain THC, however, they are distinct strains with unique biochemical compositions and uses.
In Canada there are Industrial Hemp Regulations that fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. These regulations allow for the controlled production, sale, processing, movement of industrial hemp and hemp products that conform to conditions under this regulation. Under these regulations, industrial hemp must be of a
variety (plant and parts) that contains no more than 0.3% THC when sampled and tested. Products derived from industrial hemp may not contain more than 10ug (micrograms) of THC per gram. Thus the 10ug/gm THC for hemp products can be shown as 0.001% relative to the 0.3% allowance of the crop definition of hemp. This shows how hemp oil and fibers don't have THC per se.
In other words, the strains of cannabis approved as hemp have trichomes that only produce small amounts of THC, not enough for physical or psychoactive effects.
Typically, hemp contains less than 0.3% THC whereas cannabis grown as marijuana contains anywhere from 6-20% THC or more. Health Canada has a List of Approved Cultivars.
There is a problem with the colloquial reference to "hemp oil." The seeds of hemp produce a good polyunsaturated edible oil without any cannabinoids. This can be used in cooking and cosmetics as has been done for over 100 years. The seed embryo is also a good protein source, hence the new popularity of "Hemp Hearts," which are seed embryos. Thus "hemp oil" does not relate at all to the cannabis extracts solubilized in
other vegetable oils like our use of olive oil.