Rick Simpson has become something of a legend in the marijuana field. The Canadian medical marijuana activist gained fame for creating Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), which is an extremely potent weed oil product. It was different from other oils on the market at the time due to its enormous THC content.
At that point, CBD oils weren’t yet en vogue, and concentrates had yet to gain the mainstream attention they enjoy today. Perhaps the biggest claim made by RSO proponents is that it can help to alleviate the symptoms of cancer. Unfortunately, these claims are still nothing more than claims. There is no substantial clinical evidence that supports the use of Rick Simpson Oil for cancer.
It is interesting to note that Simpson didn’t seek to make a profit from his creation. Instead, he helped treat thousands of people and essentially gave his oil away to those that needed it.
Simpson, a Canadian, was hassled a lot by the authorities, but he never gave up his mission to help others. Now that marijuana is federally legal in Canada, Simpson and his followers up north have less to fear from the police. In this article, we look at the man behind the legend – as well as everything you need to know about Rick Simpson Oil.
Who Is Rick Simpson?
*Keep in mind the following mini-bio on Rick Simpson is based on widely accessible anecdotes and stories. WayofLeaf neither supports nor denies the use of RSO oil to treat cancer or any other medical condition.
Rick Simpson didn’t seek fame, nor did it seem particularly likely that he would find fame. He was a hardworking engineer with no apparent aspirations to become the poster child for marijuana oil. Then in 1997, something happened that changed the course of his life.
One day, he was covering asbestos on a hospital’s boiler pipes with duct tape. Using a potent aerosol glue in poorly ventilated rooms resulted in him falling off his ladder and hitting his head. He was subsequently rushed to the emergency room. After a few hours of dizziness, doctors sent him home to rest.
Hoping it was a one-off incident, he went back to work, but the dizziness returned, and again he was forced back to the ER. The episodes were becoming more frequent and also leaving him with an unpleasant ringing in his ears (known as tinnitus).
The dizzy spells and tinnitus continued for over a year after the incident. Simpson received prescription medication, but not only did it not help his condition, but it also made certain symptoms worse. One day, Rick saw a documentary that outlined the potential benefits of marijuana.
Looking for Alternatives
Eager to try something new since traditional medicine wasn’t working, Rick asked his doctor about medical marijuana but was shot down. He risked the wrath of the law by taking weed anyway. Soon enough, he experienced an improvement in his symptoms. However, his joy was short-lived.
In 2003, Simpson discovered three ominous bumps on his arm. Rick went to the doctor, who performed a biopsy on the tissue. Unfortunately, the doctor’s suspicions were confirmed: Rick Simpson had a form of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma. Rather than rely on traditional medicine, he once again went down the cannabis route.
On this occasion, Simpson’s decision was influenced by an old 1975 study on the antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids. Researchers in the study found that the cannabinoids delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, and CBN, retarded Lewis lung adenocarcinoma tumor growths in mice. Based on this information, Rick applied potent cannabis oil to a bandage, which he placed over the bumps. He left the bandage on for four days.
When he took off the bandage, he was stunned by what he saw. The cancerous growths had vanished. While his doctor was skeptical, there was no turning back for Rick Simpson; he was now 100% convinced that cannabis had healing powers.
Rick Simpson and His “Healing Cannabis Oil”
From that point onward, Rick started growing cannabis at home and used it to create the cannabis concentrate oil now known as Rick Simpson Oil. Rather than taking advantage of people, he chose to give it away for free to those in real need. Some estimates suggest that Rick used his oil to help over 5,000 people.
While Canada had begun a medical marijuana program in 2001, it only offered patients access to homegrown weed or sales directly from Health Canada. As such, what Rick was doing attracted the attention of the authorities, who raided his home on numerous occasions. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police destroyed at least 2,600 of his plants. However, he refused to bow down and continued on his worthy mission.
CBD Oil vs. Rick Simpson Oil
In essence, true RSO oil is a rather crude, unrefined (yet very potent) cannabis oil that is extracted using ethanol. It contains around 50-60% THC along with many other cannabinoids. In other words, it is a very powerful full-spectrum marijuana oil.
These days, CBD oil is gaining lots of traction as a potential alleviator of symptoms of medical conditions. RSO is quite different from CBD oil in that it contains a much higher THC content.
Most CBD oil available today comes from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC. Many companies have marketed it as providing ‘healing without the high.’ In fact, CBD is actually now an approved prescription medication (under the name Epidiolex) for two rare forms of child epilepsy. RSO, on the other hand, will get you high if you use enough. And of course, it’s still illegal in a number of states.
Also, please bear in mind that THC has psychoactive effects, and you may be more sensitive to it than others. High doses of THC could result in the following side effects:
- Panic attacks
- Impaired memory
- Dry eyes
- Low blood pressure
Is Rick Simpson Oil Legal?
RSO oil is a general term for simple cannabis oil that is made/extracted using a certain technique. In other words, it’s not a “product” that you go and buy at a marijuana dispensary.
As such, there’s not an explicit answer to the question ‘is Rick Simpson Oil legal.’ It depends on where you live and also on the specific laws of your state. If you live in a state where cannabis is legal either recreationally or medically, and if you meet the appropriate criteria to possess/use cannabis (i.e. if you’re 21 or older in a recreationally legal state, or if you have a valid MMJ card in a medically legal state), and if it is legal to grow cannabis in your state, you should be able to legally make RSO oil in your own home.
With this in mind, remember that each state has its own rules and regulations regarding home cultivation. You may find that it is legal to purchase a cannabis oil concentrate that’s similar to RSO in a licensed dispensary in your state, but illegal to actually grow the weed and make the RSO yourself. Please refer to your state’s specific marijuana laws.
Even in states where it is legal to grow your own cannabis and/or possess cannabis oil extract, there are often limits on how much oil one can possess. For example, in California, you are allowed to have possession of a maximum of 8 grams of cannabis concentrate. Once again, be sure and research your state’s laws on this matter.
How to Use Rick Simpson Oil
First and foremost, we recommend discussing your potential use of RSO with a physician before proceeding. We DO NOT make any claims as to the efficacy of Rick Simpson Oil. That being said, Simpson himself has outlined a specific dosing schedule that involves a total consumption of 60 grams of oil in 12 weeks. You start slowly and gradually build up your tolerance as follows:
- Week 1: Begin by taking RSO oil three times a day (approximately once every 8 hours). In terms of dosage, a good visual aid is to imagine half a grain of rice; that’s about the size of each thrice daily dose.
- Weeks 2 –5: Double week one’s dose every four days, maintaining the same schedule of consuming three doses of RSO per day. Ultimately, the goal is to reach the full RSO dose of one gram a day.
- Weeks 6 –12: By the end of week 5 or the start of week 6, you should be using a full gram a day. You continue to take the oil three times a day until you consume the entire 60 grams. Ultimately the consumer will take around 8-9 grain of rice sized drops every eight hours.
RSO is very potent, and the taste may be unpleasant. You can mix it with other foods to help reduce the impact of the flavor. Please don’t dab RSO, because the cannabinoids are extracted via ethanol or another solvent. Some users report feeling sleepy during the first few weeks. It’s likely that these episodes will reduce once your tolerance level increases.
By week 13, you can continue using the oil but cut down your intake.
The Difference Between Medical Research and RSO Oil
True RSO oil is made from marijuana, although you can use hemp as well. Remember, however, that RSO made from marijuana is not going to be legal in all states (see above).
And of course, the FDA does not recognize any of the purported/anecdotal health benefits of RSO oil. It is hard enough for researchers to study marijuana, let alone a potent “homemade” extract like RSO. Simply put, there is no hard evidence relating specifically to the medical benefits of Rick Simpson Oil.
There are, however, plenty of studies into the medical effects of THC and marijuana in general. It is worth looking at a few of the most relevant of these studies.
A study by Scott et al., for example, published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics in 2014, found that a combination of CBD and THC enhanced the effects of radiation therapy in rodents.
Another intriguing case study by Singh and Bali, published in Case Reports in Oncology, looked at cannabis extract treatment in a 14-year old girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). According to researchers, “despite the non-standardization of the medicines” (i.e. cannabis extracts), they “produced a potentially life-saving response – namely, the drop in the leukemic blast cell count.”.
An additional 2019 review by Sharafi, He, and Nikfarjam looked into the potential use of cannabinoids for the treatment of pancreatic cancer. Drawing on previous research, the authors stated that “cannabinoid extracts may have anti-cancer properties.” They then concluded that cannabinoids could be an effective adjunct (supplementary treatment) to help with the side effects of some forms of pancreatic cancer treatment.
All in all, however, there is still a gross lack of clinical information on effective medical marijuana dosages and formulations. There is also a lack of information on the precise physiological action of THC and other cannabinoids.
How to Make Rick Simpson Oil
If you live in a state where marijuana is illegal, do not proceed with the following steps on how to make RSO oil. Know the laws of the state that you live in, and be sure to abide by them at all times.
Also, be wary of any online vendors who claim to have Rick Simpson Oil for sale online. Remember, Simpson himself is not affiliated with any of these products. In other words, there is no telling what may be in the oil!
In any case, if you are comfortable using a solvent to extract the cannabinoids from marijuana – and are willing to follow correct safety procedures and abide by all state, local, regional, and federal laws, here is how to make RSO.
- Approximately one pound of dried marijuana. Simpson recommends using an indica strain.
- Two gallons of solvent. 99% Isopropyl alcohol is the most widely used, but you can try ethanol or butane – just be careful!
- A 5-gallon bucket & a large, deep bowl.
- A cheesecloth & a wooden spoon.
- A rice cooker.
Rick Simpson Oil Steps
- Place your dry cannabis material into the bucket and pour the solvent over it until it is covered. While pouring, stir and crush the cannabis. Stir for about 3 minutes, allowing for the THC to dissolve into the solvent. This process should dissolve up to 80% of the available THC into the solvent.
- Drain the solvent from the mixture into your bowl using the cheesecloth.
- Place the mixture back in the bucket and add more solvent. Stir for another 3 minutes. Drain again into the same bowl and discard the remaining mixture.
- Transfer your solvent to your rice cooker until it is about three-quarters full and turn on your rice cooker. (Don’t let your solvent mixture heat above 300 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise, it will become unusable.)
- The rice cooker should maintain a steady heat, allowing for decarboxylation. Keep the temperature between 210- and 230-degrees Fahrenheit to decarb the weed properly.
- As the rice cooker heats and the solvent evaporates, add more mixture.
Once the solvent has fully evaporated, place the oil into a syringe for easy use. RSO is thick, so if you find it hard to squeeze it out, place the syringe under very hot water to make the mixture less thick and easier to dispense.
Final Thoughts on Rick Simpson’s Oil
RSO originated because its creator used a cannabis concentrate oil on his skin cancer. He claims the oil eliminated his cancer within four days. As we’ve emphasized, however, these are still nothing more than anecdotal claims. In fact, most physicians would probably refuse to blatantly credit cannabis oil as the reason for the disappearance of Simpson’s cancerous growths.
Research into marijuana is still in its infancy. Therefore, it would be unwise to make claims about its efficacy for any medical condition – let alone one as serious as cancer.
That said, there are studies (some of which we discuss above) suggesting that cannabinoids can have an inhibitive effect on the growth of cancerous cells, and a galvanizing effect on the programmed cell death of certain cancer cells. In fact, the U.S. National Library of Medicine lists CBD (a cannabinoid) as having “anti-proliferative, antineoplastic, chemopreventive, anti-angiogenic, and pro-apoptotic” activity.
All in all, if you are a cancer patient or suffer from another medical condition that hasn’t responded positively to traditional medication, it is only natural to become desperate for a solution. Regardless, please be wary of blindly accepting any and all information that’s available out there online as the truth. It may well be that the Rick Simpson story and the anecdote on his RSO oil for cancer is true. However, there’s simply no clinical data that validates it.
And lastly, if you decide to take Rick Simpson Oil, make sure it is legal in your state and/or city. Also, as RSO is extremely potent, begin with a very small dose to assess your tolerance before increasing as necessary.
You can expect psychoactive effects when consuming RSO oil. As such, you can expect possible THC-related side effects such as drowsiness, red eyes, anxiety, and paranoia. If you have made or used Rick Simpson Oil in the past, be sure and let us (as well as the greater cannabis community) know what you think of it by leaving a comment below.
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