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What Is RSO (Rick Simpson Oil)?

RSO, also known as Rick Simpson Oil is a concentrated cannabis oil with impressive therapeutic potential. RSO’s unique name and look makes it the subject of many questions, especially from those new to cannabis. ‘What is RSO?’ is a question that our budtenders have certainly become accustomed to hearing.

Keep reading to learn more about this impressive concentrate and the incredible story behind it.

What Is RSO?

RSO is a high-THC oil that can be used in several different ways and for several different purposes. Thanks to its massive THC content, RSO is typically recommended for those with conditions that require a high dose of THC and for those who have a high tolerance to THC.

RSO is a sticky, gooey black oil that is almost tar-like in consistency. You can usually find RSO packaged in syringes for easier oral consumption, topical application, and storage.

RSO’s therapeutic potential is boosted by the fact that it is a full-spectrum whole-plant extract that retains all components of the cannabis plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

What Is RSO: Rick Simpson’s Story

The “RS” in RSO comes from Rick Simpson, the inventor of the oil who claims to have

successfully treat his skin cancer with it.

In the early 2000s, Rick was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. Rick had previously used cannabis to treat a prior condition and turned to cannabis once again in hopes of treating his cancer naturally. Finding encouragement in research that supported THC’s cancer-fighting potential, Rick set out to treat his condition with concentrated topical oils that he extracted himself.

After using it to successfully treat his condition, Rick set out to bring RSO to the public in hopes of helping others suffering from similar conditions. He has eagerly taught many others how to make his special oil, and the RSO that you see on dispensary shelves today is a testament to Rick’s love for the plant and for helping those in need.

Why Use RSO?

RSO delivers concentrated doses of therapeutic cannabis plant compounds, and especially of THC. Because it is produced with medicinal value in mind, RSO is usually made from heavy indica strains that are known for producing analgesic, anxiolytic, and sedating whole-body effects.

In addition, RSO can both be applied topically and ingested orally. This makes it more versatile than most cannabis products, allowing it to potentially treat more than one symptom or condition.

If you feel that RSO’s therapeutic potential can benefit you, don’t hesitate to try this potent, effective, and versatile cannabis extract.

How To Dose And Use Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

RSO is an activated formulation that requires no heat to be applied to it in order to work. Instead, RSO is most commonly consumed sublingually, ingested orally, or applied topically.

Simply use the syringe that it comes in to squeeze out some oil onto a spoon, under your tongue, onto your skin, or into foods and liquids that mix well, and enjoy.

Because of its huge THC content, and because RSO is usually made from heavy indica strains that produce very strong whole-body effects, it’s important to be very careful when dosing it.

It is recommended that beginners start with no more than an oil droplet about the size of one grain of rice. As your tolerance goes up and the effects begin to seem less potent, increase your dosage by no more than another grain of rice. Going slow reduces the likelihood of experiencing any of THC’s unwanted side effects.

What Is Rick Simpson Oil?

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a highly potent, viscous, dark-brown/black oil. RSO results from stripping the cannabis plant’s trichomes, which are rich in therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes. The final product is a powerhouse of healing compounds including potent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Created by a Canadian scientist named Rick Simpson, RSO originally helped its namesake treat an aggressive form of skin cancer. Simpson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and delved into research on the impact of THC on cancer cells. From there, he created a cannabis oil that he applied to his skin. After only four days, his cancerous cells were reportedly gone.

Sold on the healing effects of medical marijuana, Simpson cultivated his own cannabis, harvested his own plants, and created more of that cannabis-infused oil, known today as RSO. Learn about how RSO works and how to use RSO as a natural wellness supplement.

How It Works

RSO is similar to a highly purified form of hashish, where a plant’s resin and trichomes are separated from the plant itself to create a cannabinoid-concentrated product. The theory is that the potent mix of highly concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes can help treat conditions like cancer by effectively “soaking” the body’s cells with cannabinoids, meaning that the oil can help fight cancerous cells throughout the body.

There are significant differences between Rick Simpson Oil and regular cannabis oil.

Rick Simpson Oil vs. Cannabis Oil: Differences and Similarities

Cannabis oil usually refers to the infusion of cannabis into an oil, usually olive, coconut or MCT oil. In contrast, RSO is an oily concentrate made from separating the plant’s cannabinoids from the plant material. RSO is therefore more similar to hash or other cannabis concentrates.

One similarity between RSO and cannabis oil is that both products are full-spectrum, meaning that they contain a range of chemical compounds including psychoactive THC. In fact, RSO usually contains higher levels of THC than ordinary cannabis oil. The dense THC concentrations of RSO make the product more potent than most cannabis oils.

How to Make Rick Simpson Oil

The process of making RSO involves:

  • Mixing together highly purified alcohol with cannabis to create a solvent
  • Straining the solvent to get rid of extra plant material
  • Heating the solvent (avoiding any naked flames) to get rid of all the alcohol and any other contaminants present in the solvent
  • The result is a thick, sticky, brown-black oil that can be used as you wish, including in edible form

Please note that making RSO at home is potentially dangerous (and illegal in many places), so we do not recommend that you attempt the process.

Benefits and Uses

While modern research has shown RSO is effective in fighting cancer in conjunction with other therapies, RSO can treat a laundry list of other conditions as well. Some of the ailments RSO has also been shown to be effective with include, but are not limited to, the following:

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Download Guide To Anxiety and Medical Cannabis

Generally, while dosing may be different for everyone depending on age, sex, and other factors of physical health, the rule of thumb when it comes to RSO is 60 grams over 90 days. Patients should start with three doses a day of only a small drop (equivalent to a grain of rice) applied either topically or ingested in some way every eight or so hours.

From there, the patient should double their dose every four or so days. Then, after about five weeks, the patient should up their dose to a gram of oil per day until all 60 grams have been used. This is the treatment usually recommended for those suffering from cancer. While there is some anecdotal evidence that this dosing regime works, others may benefit from different dosages and ingestion methods.

If you’re going to smoke or vape RSO instead of ingesting or using it topically, you need to make sure that particular oil is right. Always check with your budtender at the dispensary you’re buying from and, of course, if you’re making it yourself make sure to burn off the alcohol completely before smoking it. However, we at Leafwell do not recommend this ingestion method, as the results can be dangerous and combustible.

If you’re cooking with RSO, one popular staple is a cannabutter or cannabis cooking oil. From there, you can swap your cannabis-infused product with the normal one in recipes to create RSO-infused edibles. You can even mix the oil into sauces, dips, salad dressings and beverages.

But remember: start low and go slow. Cannabis edibles, especially those made with RSO, can be extraordinarily potent, so use less than you think you need.

Download Free Guide to Marijuana and Insomnia

Potential Risks and Interactions

Rick Simpson Oil carries the same risks as any THC product, but perhaps even more so as RSO is generally higher in the intoxicating cannabinoid. The risks and side effects of THC include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Coordination problems
  • Red eyes
  • Delayed reaction times
  • Fatigue

Avoid driving or operating any kind of machinery when using RSO and other THC products. Seek medical attention if you experience moderate or severe side effects from using Rick Simpson Oil.

Furthermore, there are many potential drug interactions to be aware of before you use RSO with any other medication. Antidepressants, opioids and sedatives are just a few types of drugs that can negatively interact with Rick Simpson Oil.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) contain THC?

Yes, Rick Simpson Oil is exceptionally high in THC, often containing concentrations of 60 percent or higher. If you are looking for products that have no THC, CBD topicals (especially those made from CBD isolate) are your best bet.

Why is RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) banned in many countries?

RSO is banned in many countries where cannabis and THC are illegal. There may also be concerns about advertising Rick Simpson Oil as a “cure” for cancer when no such cure exists. RSO may be beneficial for some people with cancer, but it cannot legally or ethically be classified as a remedy.

Is there any evidence that Rick Simpson Oil works?

There is some evidence that RSO may be effective for certain individuals, but further research is crucial. As more federally-funded research develops on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the overall impact of medical cannabis, we’ll get a fuller understanding of how RSO can help treat diseases including cancer.

Use Rick Simpson Oil and other THC cannabis products legally with a medical marijuana card. The team of doctors at Leafwell are here to meet with you online and get you started on your application.

What Is Rick Simpson Cannabis Oil – and How Do You Make It?

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is an extremely potent cannabis oil product created by a Canadian medical marijuana activist. It was different from other oils on the market at the time due to its enormous THC content.

Perhaps the biggest claim made by RSO proponents is that it can help alleviate cancer symptoms. However, there is no substantial clinical evidence that supports the use of Rick Simpson Oil for cancer.

The authorities hassled Simpson frequently, but he never gave up his mission to help others. Now that marijuana is federally legal in Canada, Simpson and his followers 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.

In 1997, Simpson 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 became more frequent and left 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 it didn’t help him much and 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, Simpson asked his doctor about medical marijuana, but the physician wouldn’t consider its use. Even so, Simpson tried it anyway and experienced an improvement in his symptoms. However, his joy was short-lived.

In 2003, Simpson discovered three ominous bumps on his arm. He went to the doctor, who performed a biopsy on the tissue. Unfortunately, the doctor’s suspicions were confirmed: 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.

Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer. Having had previous success with medical marijuana, he decided to try it again, this time in the form of a potent oil.

On this occasion, Simpson’s decision was influenced by an old study on the antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids. Researchers found that the cannabinoids delta-9 THC, delta-8 THC, and CBN slowed down Lewis lung adenocarcinoma tumor growth 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.

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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 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 Simpson 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 cannabis or sales directly from Health Canada. As such, what Simpson 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 continues on his mission to this day.

What Is Rick Simpson Cannabis Oil?

It is a cannabis oil that’s extremely high in THC. It also contains a wide variety of cannabinoids such as CBN, CBG, and CBD, not to mention a huge array of terpenes. Given its potency, we recommend that only experienced marijuana users try using RSO. Apart from claiming it can help with cancer symptoms, proponents of Rick Simpson oil say it is useful for the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Inflammation
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • MS
  • Infections
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure

It is a gooey, black oil with a consistency akin to tar, and you can make it at home.

How to Make Rick Simpson Oil

If you live in a state where marijuana is illegal, do not proceed with the following steps to make RSO oil.

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. There is no telling what may be in the oil!

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 –be careful!
  • A 5-gallon bucket & a large, deep bowl.
  • A cheesecloth & a wooden spoon.
  • A rice cooker.

Steps on How to Make Rick Simpson Oil

  1. 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.
  2. Drain the solvent from the mixture into your bowl using the cheesecloth.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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. However, Simpson has outlined a specific dosing schedule that involves a total consumption of 60 grams of RSO in 12 weeks. You start slowly and gradually build up your tolerance. Now let’s look at RSO oil: How to use below:

  • Week 1: Begin by taking a rice-grained amount of RSO oil three times a day. It is best to spread the doses out; take one every 8 hours.
  • Weeks 2 –5: Double week one’s dose every four days, maintaining the same schedule of consuming three doses of RSO per day.
  • Weeks 6 –12: You should be using a full gram a day by the end of week 5 or the start of week 6. 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 grains of rice-sized drops every eight hours.

RSO is very potent and may taste 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. These episodes will likely reduce once your tolerance level increases. By week 13, you can continue using the oil but cut down your intake.

Does Rick Simpson Oil Get You High?

In a word, yes. RSO gets you high because it contains a significant amount of THC. There is a bare minimum of 20% THC in Rick Simpson Oil, and it is usually a lot more. We have read stories about people consuming two full RSO syringes and feeling intoxicated for more than 24 hours!

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When you smoke marijuana, the effects of the delta-9-THC last for approximately four hours. However, when you eat it, as long as the THC is decarboxylated, your liver converts it to a compound named 11-hydroxy-THC, which is far more potent. We urge you to exercise caution when using RSO, given its strong intoxicating effects.

Is Rick Simpson Oil Legal?

RSO oil is a general term for simple cannabis oil made/extracted using a certain technique. In other words, it’s not a “product” that you buy at a marijuana dispensary.

It depends on where you live and also on the specific laws of your state. It is legal in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, as long as you’re aged 21+. RSO is also legal in states where medical marijuana is legal if you have a valid MMJ card. However, it is technically only legal to make at home if your state also allows cannabis cultivation.

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 similar to RSO in a licensed dispensary in your state but illegal actually to grow the plants and make the RSO yourself. Please refer to your state’s specific marijuana laws.

Even in states where it is legal to grow your cannabis and possess cannabis oil extract, there are often limits on how much oil one can possess. For example, in California, you can possess a maximum of 8 grams of cannabis concentrate. Once again, be sure and research your state’s laws on this matter.

CBD & RSO Oil – What Are the Differences?

Both options are receiving attention, but it is incorrect to say that you can make Rick Simpson CBD oil. Although there are similarities between RSO and CBD, the former must have a high level of THC (up to 60%) while the latter contains minimal THC. While RSO is intoxicating, CBD is not.

Both products can come from cannabis, although most manufacturers take their CBD from hemp. Although cannabidiol can contain trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%), Rick Simpson Oil can have up to 6% CBD, along with many other cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN.

Finally, while CBD is tolerated in most American states, RSO is only legal in specific regions.

Medical Research into RSO Oil

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.

However, there is a case report from 2013 that was published in Case Reports in Oncology. It focused on a 14-year-old girl who had an aggressive form of leukemia. The researcher explored the efficacy of different cannabinoid resin extracts. Indeed, Simpson and his organization helped to prepare one of the extracts.

The report indicated that various concentrations of CBD and THC helped with the girl’s cancer. Tragically, however, she died from an unrelated GI condition two months into the study. Therefore, we still don’t know whether marijuana has long-term benefits for cancer patients.

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Other Research

Even though RSO research is practically non-existent, there are plenty of studies into the medical effects of THC and marijuana in general. It is worth looking at a couple of the most relevant studies.

For example, a study by Scott et al., published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics in 2014, found that a combination of CBD and THC enhanced the effects of radiation therapy in rodents.

An additional 2019 review by Sharafi, He, and Nikfarjam looked into the potential use of cannabinoids amongst patients with pancreatic cancer. Drawing on previous research, the authors stated that “cannabinoid extracts may have anti-cancer properties.” They concluded that cannabinoids could be an effective adjunct (supplementary treatment) to help with the side effects of some forms of pancreatic cancer treatment.

Overall, 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.

Rick Simpson Cannabis Oil – Side Effects & Risks

Please remember that THC has intoxicating effects, and you may be more sensitive to it than other users. Although there is plenty of CBD in RSO oil, the THC level is so high that the following side effects are possible:

  • Disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Impaired memory
  • Dry eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irritability

It is also essential to ensure that children steer well clear. There is research that indicates cannabis use poses long-term risks to younger users. A study published in Current Pharmaceutical Design found that teenagers who use marijuana regularly could have a higher risk of impaired ability than kids who rarely consume it. Cannabis could interfere with the process of brain development amongst adolescents.

Final Thoughts on Rick Simpson’s Oil

RSO originated because its creator used 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.

Marijuana research is still in its infancy. Therefore, it is unwise to claim its efficacy for any medical condition – let alone one as serious as cancer.

That said, studies suggest that cannabinoids can have an inhibitive effect on the growth of cancerous cells. They may also have a galvanizing effect on the programmed cell death of certain cancer cells. The U.S. National Library of Medicine lists CBD (a cannabinoid) as having “anti-proliferative, antineoplastic, chemopreventive, anti-angiogenic, and pro-apoptotic” activity.

If you decide to make Rick Simpson Oil, make sure it is legal in your state 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 intoxicating effects when consuming RSO oil. As such, you may experience possible THC-related side effects such as drowsiness, red eyes, anxiety, and paranoia.