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Mythbusting: “No RSO for me, I don’t like needles”

Yes, it comes in a syringe. No, it doesn’t have a needle. And no, you definitely don’t inject it. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) may look like it’s meant to be injected, but it’s actually an easy to use, orally ingested concentrate. The syringe is just to help you measure this phytocannabinoid and terpene rich cannabis extract. Here’s what you need to know about RSO.

First things first: what is RSO?

Short for Rick Simpson Oil, RSO is an activated cannabis concentrate. This thick and tacky liquid is odorless and does not need heat to activate the phytocannabinoids and terpenes contained within. It’s celebrated for its high potency — RSO could contain up to 90% THC — and for its elevated levels of terpenes.

Uniquely, you do not need to apply heat to RSO to consume it. The phytocannabinoids in RSO are activated, which means that you can consume it straight from the package.

Read the Ethos guide to RSO to learn more about this unique concentrate.

I see it comes in a syringe…but RSO isn’t injected?

RSO is not injected. No needles are involved. Ethos Cannabis pharmacist Sarah Hassinger, PharmD, summed it up succinctly: “Cannabis is never, ever, ever injected.”

The reason for this misconception is simple enough. RSO comes preloaded in a syringe, with a plunger to help push out this notoriously sticky product. Some RSO packages come with a long tip that’s attached to the syringe to help get the RSO out of the container. To cannabis newcomers, this can look like a syringe and a needle, similar to what a vaccine may come in.

Hassinger explains that this method of administering oral medication is not an uncommon one in the pharmaceutical world, and that you often see medication preloaded in a syringe, particularly when it comes to medicine for children.

“This administration method is way more common for kids than adults, so it wouldn’t be surprising if adults have never seen that before,” Hassinger said.

If RSO isn’t injected, how do you consume it?

RSO was originally intended as a topical, which Rick Simpson applied directly to areas of concern on his skin. Today, RSO is used in several ways, but it’s mainly consumed orally directly from the syringe. Consumers place the desired amount on a toothpick and place it in their mouths, where it’s partially digested and partially absorbed through the mouth tissues, called the “biphasic” effect.

It can also be mixed into food for easier consumption. Hassinger recommends placing the RSO in peanut butter and spreading that mixture on a cracker.

“Peanut butter is fatty, and fat helps increase phytocannabinoid absorption in the body,” Hassinger said. “The peanut butter also masks the taste and keeps it from getting on your teeth.”

How much RSO should I consume?

Hassinger advises that RSO is extremely potent, much like other concentrates. That, coupled with RSO’s viscous nature, can make RSO more difficult to dole out. To help visualize the right amount, Hassinger measures RSO in grains of rice: A full serving of RSO is the size of a grain of standard white rice. This amount can be cut into half a grain of rice or a quarter grain of rice, depending on a consumer’s experience and needs.

Follow these steps to help calculate how many phytocannabinoids are in the syringe:

  • Note the total milligrams contained in the RSO syringe, often 500mg or 1000mg 
  • Multiply this number by the percentage of your desired phytocannabinoid, such as THC or CBD, contained in the RSO. This gives you the total amount of phytocannabinoids in the syringe.

For example, if your product contains 1000mg of RSO at 75% THC, the syringe contains 750mg of THC.

From there, Hassinger makes brand-specific recommendations to help consumers calculate precisely how many milligrams of THC or CBD are contained in one grain of rice-sized amount.

Tips for consuming RSO

  • Start with the smallest amount possible. Because RSO is so much more potent than other cannabis products, you should take great care when trying it for the first time. Start with a very small dose, and make sure that you are trying RSO in a comfortable and familiar environment.
  • Use warm water to help push out the RSO. Running warm water from the tap over your product can help it come out more easily. Hassinger warns to be careful when depressing the plunger after this, as the RSO will come out much faster once it’s warmed up.
  • Pre-measure and freeze each grain. To help simplify your RSO routine, you can measure each “grain” onto a piece of parchment paper and place in the freezer to create easy to take amounts.

RSO is an excellent option for those looking for a potent product that packs a punch in a very small amount. If you see a syringe when you open the package, remember that it’s only to help you get this thick concentrate out of the tube and into your cannabis routine. There are no needles involved, nor is it injected – simply place the desired amount in your mouth or in food.

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