THC Oil in NZ – Everything You Need to Know

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil is made by extracting THC cannabinoids from cannabis plants. THC oil is relatively similar to CBD oil. It provides the same therapeutic benefits, except it also produces psychoactive side effects.

Interest in these natural therapeutic compounds is only growing across NZ. Many people choose to ease symptoms of health conditions with THC oil over traditional medications, as most come with nasty side effects. 

What is THC oil? 

THC, alongside CBD, is one of the most common cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is a psychoactive compound, meaning using THC products results in a ‘high’ feeling after use. THC works to impact neurotransmitters within your brain to affect how your body perceives pain, moods, and other feelings.

THC oil is available in many forms, and the option you choose is purely based on your preferences. The primary way THC oil is used is via a tincture, where a few drops can be taken orally or placed under the tongue to increase absorption rates. THC oil can also be found in some skin products and applied directly on the external skin, known as ‘topical application’.

Some people also love adding THC oil into their smoothies, juices, or soups. This is an easy way to incorporate THC into your daily diet without much hassle! 

Is THC legal in NZ?

THC oil is legal in NZ with a prescription from a registered doctor. The wide range of THC products online can be overwhelming; however, keep in mind that many THC oil options online aren’t necessarily the best quality. Your best bet is to get a proper prescription before purchasing THC. 

Buying marijuana or weed online is considered illegal.

How do you get a THC prescription in NZ? 

If you want to try THC oil out for yourself, talk to your doctor. The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect in NZ in April 2020, making it easier for doctors to prescribe medical cannabis products for patients who need them.

At your doctor’s appointment, you will be able to discuss your options with them. You may also want to bring additional research with you to help present your reasons.

Ultimately, your doctor will decide whether THC is the best option for your health needs. Suppose you feel that you need a second opinion. In that case, you can talk to another doctor or seek out a specialist for your condition.

THC products available in NZ 

At the present moment, THC product options available in NZ are relatively limited. Most medical cannabis products are manufactured by pharmaceutical companies overseas. To be prescribed and supplied, ministerial approval and patient consent need to be secured.

These products are not usually produced for smoking but come as capsules, mouth sprays, or gels that can be applied to the skin.

Where to buy THC products

At present, your doctor will only prescribe you one THC product, known as Sativex. This is because Sativex is considered the only pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis product available for distribution in NZ. 

Sativex is a mouth spray that can be very expensive since it is not funded. Cannabis Clinic can help you source a bigger range of THC products that remain effective but are not as pricey. This simple process is done by Cannabis Clinic making an application to the Ministry of Health on your behalf.

Less paperwork for you to do, plus a more affordable THC product? Sounds good to us! 

Why should you use THC?

THC can (and has!) been used for many different health concerns. While some people remain sceptical about THC because it is still a relatively new research area, cannabis-based infusions have been around for centuries

Today, cannabis products like THC oil are prepared in more advanced ways while still retaining the plant’s unique properties, resulting in numerous medicinal benefits. Some are detailed below. 

For chronic pain relief

One of the most common uses of THC oil is for pain relief. About 1 in 6 New Zealanders live with some chronic pain, and treatment for this can be expensive, inconvenient, and come with a whole host of side effects.

Luckily, cannabis-based oils like THC oil are rising in popularity among people looking for natural, alternative pain relief methods. THC has been shown to relieve neuropathic pain, particularly from nerve damage, cancer, and fibromyalgia.

THC has also been shown to promote the production of hormones that affect mood, like serotonin and dopamine. Because of this, THC oil can reduce both the physical cause of pain and the perception of it, allowing you to get your mind off the pain.

To improve sleep quality

Cannabinoids like THC have been known for their relaxing and anxiety-reducing properties. Its sedative-like effects make it a good option around bedtime for soothing a busy mind or any additional stress you may be facing. 

Researchers found that people who used THC-rich cannabis products before sleep reported falling (and staying!) asleep faster, compared to those who didn’t.

In addition to this, sleep quality was also enhanced, with fewer nightmares throughout the night recorded. The reason behind this is pretty simple; cannabis use before bedtime has been shown to reduce the time spent in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. The result? Fewer dreams of a vivid nature, which often occur during REM. This can be excellent news for those who have insomnia or PTSD.

To reduce inflammation

Reducing inflammation across the body has been growing in importance across the medical field. Chronic inflammation is considered a significant risk factor for many diseases, ranging from cancer to arthritis.

THC has shown promising results in easing inflammation. This can be achieved in several ways. The endocannabinoid system is a complex system within the body that is responsible for many functions, including inflammation. Cannabinoids like THC can act on this system to lower inflammation rates.

Another popular way THC is thought to lower inflammation is through THC’s interaction with cytokines and chemokines. These immune system compounds can trigger inflammation rates, so cannabinoids like THC are useful since they can decrease these compounds’ production.

THC’s anti-inflammatory properties can also reduce pain levels since inflammation and chronic pain often walk hand in hand 

What’s the difference between CBD and THC?

Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. While both compounds interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) within the body, they have different effects. 

Cannabinoids like CBD and THC can interact with the receptors in the ECS. THC can bind tightly to the brain’s receptors to produce a ‘high’ feeling often associated with cannabis use. CBD can also bind, but very weakly, therefore causing less psychoactive effects than THC. 

Both CBD and THC provide medical benefits. However, some people prefer one or the other, depending on if they want the euphoric effects or not. CBD is also considered to have fewer side effects than THC. 

Can CBD oil and THC work together?

Yes, CBD oil and THC work together well. While it may seem counterintuitive, combining THC and CBD can increase the potency and therapeutic effects.

The ‘entourage effect‘ is a relatively new term in the world of cannabis use. This term describes the idea that all compounds within the cannabis plant work in conjunction with each other. Because of this, they provide more benefit when working together compared to their individual effects, known as synergy.

In fact, the partnership between THC and CBD has proven so successful that researchers have found CBD plus THC showing more benefits over a range of symptoms than THC alone. 

Many studies have confirmed this. While THC comes with numerous benefits, overuse can be associated with a rapid heartbeat and a prolonged ‘high’ feeling, which may be uncomfortable for some users. Researchers found that CBD could counteract some of these side effects, with the bonus of increasing the half-life of THC resulting in extended pain relief

THC dosing 

The ‘correct’ THC dose will depend on several factors. Your doctor will assess your health needs to determine how much and how often you should take THC. Usually, the more severe your needs are, the more THC you will take.

Your body composition can also affect how the THC acts within your body. Factors like how fast your metabolism is, your body weight, and how tolerant you are to the THC compound will affect how it is processed. For those who haven’t used cannabis-based products before, the effects may be more potent than in seasoned users.

Another reason why the recommended dose of THC is hard to determine is because of the large variety of product options and amounts used in studies. Many THC products will also have different amounts of cannabinoids present, affecting how it is processed in your body.

Ultimately, THC use will require a bit of testing around. An excellent way to do this is to start with low doses taken a long time apart, then work your way up increasing in dosage. Doing this method means you give your body time to adjust to the THC. This limits any side effects that may occur while giving you time to observe how it benefits your health.

THC safety

THC is generally considered safe when used appropriately and as prescribed by your doctor.

More studies are needed to examine the long-term effects of cannabis-based products. Some researchers believe that THC use in teenage years can be linked to the development of mental health disorders in later years. This is because THC is thought to affect the brain’s normal development in people under 25 years. However, scientists cannot make conclusive claims yet.

THC use is not recommended for people who currently have or have a family history of anxiety and mood disorders, mental health conditions, or substance abuse. THC is a psychoactive substance, and because of this, it may trigger anxiety, paranoia, or stress in some patients.

Can I drive after taking THC?

No, you can’t. Many studies have found a direct relationship between THC concentration in the blood and a decreased ability to drive. In fact, cannabis is one of the most common substances associated with car accidents.

This is because the THC compound found in cannabis impairs motor coordination, reaction time, and judgment, all crucial factors needed in a safe driver. 

In NZ, driving while under the influence of THC-rich cannabis products comes with consequences. Any drivers who test positive for this can be fined and suspended from driving for some time.

So how long after taking THC can you safely drive? To play it safe, wait at least 24 hours after using THC to drive. While the effects of THC generally go away within six hours, research has shown that novel and complex driving tasks can still be negatively impacted after this length of time. Research also shows that THC can be detectable long after the effects have worn off, especially with chronic and heavy use, so it’s important to keep this in mind.

THC side effects 

Generally, THC only produces minimal and temporary side effects. These side effects are often the cause of interactions with other drugs, so talk to your doctor before trying THC oil, especially if you are on over-the-counter medication. 

Side effects of THC include reduced reaction times, anxiety, memory loss, increased heart rate, and coordination issues. More research is also needed to investigate the effects of long-term THC use in younger adults. 

While it is unavoidable that minimal side effects will occur, you can reduce your risk of developing any additional adverse effects by buying high-quality THC products. There are many cannabis companies that have THC products available for purchase. However, not all are made equally.

High-quality THC products are often more expensive but are the result of rigorous safety testing and made from good quality ingredients. The lack of contaminants also means the effects experienced will be stronger and more potent. It’s a win-win.

The bottom line 

THC oil is used for many therapeutic purposes, including relieving pain, improving sleep, and lowering inflammation. THC’s unique properties make it a popular option for easing many symptoms, especially when used in conjunction with CBD to enhance benefits. 

As THC can produce some side effects, especially for first-time users, it is essential to talk to your doctor before use.

MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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