Study Finds Many Cannabis Oils Being Sold Do NOT Have Proper Decarboxylation Therefore Don't Work - RxLeaf
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Study Finds Many Cannabis Oils Being Sold Do NOT Have Proper Decarboxylation Therefore Don’t Work

Matt Weeks
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An alarming number of cannabis oils test, batch to batch, as having improper decarboxylation. This means you are NOT getting your medicine.

According to a new study from a research and development company in Ontario, called Scientus Pharma, many cannabis companies are not preparing their oils properly. The study found that some so-called “pure cannabis oils” are filled with 80% ineffective substances. And we don’t mean fillers or anything sinister; we mean that the oil is 80% inert. As a result, patients are effectively getting placebo treatment in place of real medicine because decarboxylation was not complete.

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What Happens During Decarboxylation?

In chemical terms, decarboxylation is the process of removing a carboxyl group (usually COOH, which is one carbon atom, two oxygen atoms, and one hydrogen atom) and releasing carbon dioxide (CO2). It’s a very common and well-known organic chemical reaction, and a staple of modern medicine. This is the method by which the famous drug L-DOPA became dopamine and woke up Oliver Sacks’ patients in his book “Awakenings” (and in the Robin Williams movie of the same name.)

There are several ways to make decarboxylation happen, but heat is the most common. When heat is applied to THCa, for example, it becomes THC. The latter is the cannabinoid that interacts with your endocannabinoid system.

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Without decarboxylation, naturally occurring cannabinoids have very few effects on the human body. It’s like Netflix on trailer mode; the potential to bring full joy is there, but it needs you to hit start.

When patients smoke or vaporize cannabis, the decarboxylation process happens thanks to intense heat. Cannabis decarboxylates at 220 degrees Fahrenheit, which is easily reached by a Bic lighter.

Cannabis products like oil, on the other hand, must be decarboxylated before they reach the consumer as these are being taken orally right from the package.

 

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For edibles and oils to be effective, they must be able to be absorbed through the digestive process. So if a cannabis company wants to offer edible or oil-based products, they have to do their decarboxylation work up front. And, while some decarboxylation happens naturally over time, the best method is still through heat.

This process of slow carboxylation is more subtle. Various methods are under patent, but most use low heat over a long period of time to preserve other parts of cannabis, such as terpenes, while still decarboxylating the cannabinoids.

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Will Any Action Be Take From The Study?

If Scientus Pharma’s study is correct, it could mean that the decarboxylating process that many larger cannabis companies favor isn’t working.  And this would be a blow to the entire cannabis industry, and the substance’s legitimacy in the eyes of the present and future patients. While medicinal cannabis is held is good favor by the public at large, there’s no guarantee it will stay that way if new consumers fail to get symptom relief due to a defective product.

Right now, Canadian regulation for cannabis oils are not as stringent as those for other kinds of cannabis products. That’s partially because of the lack of knowledge around cannabis oils and the decarboxylation process, and partly because there hasn’t been a well-publicized study, such as this, that prods political action.

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Cannabis-based medicine needs to be subjected to the same rigors of rules and regulations that other medically potent medicines face. Patients who take cannabis oil should be guaranteed that they will received the same dose and the same effectiveness every time they use it. That’s how medicine works to our advantage.

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If you can’t be sure whether your latest dose was 20 percent effective or 100 percent effective, you can’t trust it. And that’s a problem that goes far beyond the young cannabis oil market. And you can bet this is not a Canadian problem alone. It could destabilize an entire industry.

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspaper, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. In addition, he also hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands and makes a mean guacamole. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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