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Cannabis 101

What is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?

Carolyn BerkNovember 6, 2019

With a potent punch of pain-killing power, it's no surprise that the cannabis concentrate Rick Simpson Oil is a mighty medical marijuana mainstay.

RSO is a well-known chronic pain combatant, and is particularly beneficial to those who need a cannabis concentrate that is more intense than common medical marijuana products like edibles and tinctures. There are claims that RSO provides healing benefits as well, however these claims are disputed by the scientific community and have not been widely tested or proven.

Read on to learn about the complex background of this cannabis concentrate and why RSO is a unique character in the world of medical marijuana.

What is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?

RSO is an intensely strong cannabis concentrate that was created by the man himself, Rick Simpson. Like other oils, RSO can be taken orally in food or drinks. However, it may not be safe to vape or dab RSO, depending on its content and how it was made. Like with all the cannabis products you consume, use a trusted and knowledgeable source or budtender who can verify the lab-tested content of your RSO and/or help you find the best way to take it.

You may have heard of RSO being used topically, especially among cancer patients. While this method is non-psychoactive and does not get you high, there are claims that doing this affects cancer cells (more on that below).

Who is Rick Simpson and what's the story behind RSO?

After Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003, he began applying what would become his eponymous oil to the affected areas. According to Rick, the topical application of the tarry substance caused his cancerous spots to heal in a matter of days.

Although not yet medically proven, Rick advocates that RSO can cure or control cancer, MS, pain, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, infections, inflammations, blood pressure, depression, sleeping problems, and other medical issues and ailments.

What the medical industry says about RSO

While there are studies suggesting cannabis and THC can help enhance the effects of cancer treatment, there is no widely accepted scientific proof among the traditional medical community to back up claims that RSO can cure cancer and other diseases.

In other words, RSO should not be used as a substitute for any prescribed medical treatment. However, with its concentrated punch of THC, it can be a valuable tool for fighting pain and insomnia. Like many cannabis products, RSO can help counteract the effects of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments, but talk with your medical provider or caregiver before adding RSO or anything else to your symptom management.

Where can I buy RSO?

Rick Simpson no longer makes and distributes his namesake oil, and he does not officially authorize any other producer. No worries though: You can still find RSO for sale through Lantern and some dispensaries. As with all cannabis, purchase tested, quality products from a reputable and trusted source.

How to make RSO at home

As Rick himself says, “The only way to know for sure what you have is real, is to produce the oil yourself."

Rather than buying RSO, Rick encourages people to make it themselves using very potent, high quality indica or indica hybrid strains. Although the amount of product produced varies by strain, generally a pound of cannabis will yield 60 grams of high-grade RSO.

You can find Rick's official instructions for making RSO here or watch his video tutorial here. Please keep in mind that this process involves heating and using chemicals, alcohol, and solvents, which can be dangerous.Even though Rick provides safety tips, please don't attempt to make RSO unless you can safely follow all instructions in a well-ventilated, fire-safe space.

Before you give DIY RSO a try, look into whether it is legal to do so in your area. Many regions, even in states where cannabis is legal, ban individuals from producing RSO because the process can oftentimes be a safety risk, especially for those who are not familiar with handling or heating flammable chemicals.

Carolyn Berk Lantern Author 
Carolyn Berk
Carolyn Berk got her start working in both radio and TV before applying her journalism skills to the cannabis industry. She is currently a content marketer and an active member of the New England cannabis community.