CBD oil has exploded in popularity in the last couple of years. Before you buy any, it’s important to do your research and learn whether it’s right for you. Below, we’ve detailed everything you need to know about CBD oil—like whether it’s considered a drug, whether it’s legal, and how to find high quality oil!
Is CBD Oil the Same as Hemp Oil?
CBD is a contraction of the word cannabidiol, which is a chemical compound found in all plants in the cannabis family. However, the CBD oil you can buy online or in store is always made from industrial hemp—not ‘marijuana’. It can therefore scientifically be called hemp oil. However, the ‘hemp seed oil’ that you can buy from stores in the U.K. is not the same as CBD oil. Hemp seed oil lacks the cannabinoids that make CBD oil useful. It can be used for cooking, and has a nutty flavour. It’s also commonly used in body care products.
You might also come across the term ‘whole-plant cannabis oil’. This is essentially another term for CBD oil, but which is made from extracts of the entire hemp plant mixed with a carrier oil.
Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?
Is CBD oil legal in the UK? Yes—the only caveat is that it has to be derived from a strain of industrial grade hemp that is EU-approved. To be clear, there are big differences between hemp and cannabis. 1. Cannabis is a family of plants. Within that family are three species: the well-known Indica and Sativa, as well as Cannabis ruderalis. The term marijuana can correctly be used interchangeably with the word cannabis. 2. Hemp is a specific strain of Cannabis sativa that is grown for industrial purposes. This distinction is the reason why CBD oil is legal. Hemp has been legally grown, processed and used for its fibre for decades under licenses provided through the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. These licenses prove that the hemp is being grown for commercial and industrial purposes, rather than for recreational use. Hemp is an incredibly versatile product. It’s used in oils and lotions, clothing, paper, food and many other uses. While it has only been legal in the UK quite recently, hemp has actually been used for millennia by ancient peoples—for rope, clothing and more. CBD oil is therefore just one of many legal uses of hemp, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular. But one thing that holds back new adopters is that it’s derived from cannabis, which people obviously associate with drug use.
Is CBD Oil Considered a Drug (Is CBD Marijuana)?
So, since CBD is derived from cannabis, is it considered a drug? And does CBD have the same effects as marijuana? Despite being a member of the Cannabis family, hemp is not considered a drug, either in a legal sense or in an everyday sense. That’s because of the chemical compounds it contains.
Chemical Differences Between CBD Oil and Marijuana
People consume recreational cannabis for its THC content. THC is a psychoactive chemical that causes all of the effects that cannabis is known for. Cannabidiol, which is the active ingredient in CBD oil, is a different chemical that doesn’t have these effects. There are three kinds of strain of cannabis. There are those that are heavy in total CBD, those that are heavy in THC, and those that are balanced in the middle. Hemp contains lots and lots of CBD, but hardly any THC. The hemp that’s used in making CBD oil is legally allowed to contain no more than 0.2% THC (dry weight EU) or 0.3% THC (dry weight USA), but will also contain between 15 and 20% CBD. By contrast, THC-heavy strains can contain 30%+ THC but less than a percentage point of CBD. Furthermore, when CBD oil is processed from natural hemp, much of that small amount of THC is lost. Even a full spectrum extract only contains 0.05% THC or less. This means that CBD oil has none of the psychoactive effects that marijuana does. CBD oil and supplements therefore can’t be used and abused as drugs. They’re chemically different to recreational marijuana.
Is CBD Oil Dangerous?
From an early age, everyone gets warned: drugs are dangerous! That applies to everything from alcohol and caffeine to marijuana and harder drugs. Because CBD oil is made from cannabis, people assume that it might be ‘dangerous’ in the way that they perceive marijuana to be. It’s unclear what the long term effects of cannabis are—whether you’re talking about marijuana or CBD oil. What we do know is that it’s THC that is the psychoactive compound in cannabis, and almost none is present in CBD oil. The long term side effects of recreational use of cannabis or marijuana may therefore not apply to CBD oil. As for CBD oil, there are as of yet no long term studies on the effects that it has. This is something that will change as CBD becomes more popular and more research is devoted to it, and its effects. That’s why in the U.K. it can currently only be sold as a food supplement rather than a health supplement.
Can You Get a CBD Prescription?
So, CBD oil is legal. But it’s still highly unlikely that you’ll get a CBD oil prescription in the UK. It is only prescribed in very select circumstances, and even then, it’s not the first thing that a doctor will prescribe. It was made legal for doctors to prescribe it in November 2018. Slow uptake is a result of the fact that CBD oil hasn’t been widely used for very long. The very first CBD extracts were manufactured in the 1800s and 1900s, and were initially quite popular. But because of slack regulations and a resulting low quality product, plus the public’s increasing negative perception of cannabis, CBD oil fell out of use quickly. But today, you should have no problem getting your hands on high-quality CBD oil. You can find CBD both in high street stores and online. As of today, though, CBD products are only sold in the UK as food supplements.
Can You Get High Grade CBD Oil?
High grade CBD oil is subtly different to regular CBD oil. One way in which they’re different is the way that they’re made. Arguably the best method of extraction is to use carbon dioxide. The CBD is stripped out of the hemp using high pressure, low temperature CO2. This removes chlorophyll and other things you don’t need in your CBD oil. The cheapest and easiest way to create CBD oil is by stripping the chemical out from everything else in the hemp using strong, high grain alcohol. There are worries that while this does quickly extract CBD, it may also destroy other compounds in the hemp. It’s also possible to create a kind of CBD oil by physically suspending hemp/cannabis in a carrier oil solution. Over time, some of the CBD and other compounds present in the hemp are leached out into the oil. This method is arguably more ‘natural’ than the others described above. However, this method does not result in pure CBD oil.
In terms of end product, CO2-extracted CBD oil is definitely better. It has a cleaner taste—but it’s not clear whether it has different effects to CBD oil made using other methods of extraction.
Differences Between High-Quality and Low-Quality CBD Oil
So, how can you tell the difference between good and bad CBD oil? The main way to tell the quality of CBD oil is through its smell, taste and how it looks. Raw CBD oilis very dark in appearance, either dark green or black. This stage occurs after both CO2 and alcohol methods of extraction. It’s darker because it still contains a variety of chemicals and compounds aside from CBD and THC, such as terpenes, chlorophyll and other parts of the plant. To be clear, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; these additional ingredients don’t have negative effects, they just mean that the oil isn’t as pure. Decarboxylated oil is raw oil that goes through the decarboxylation process. This doesn’t remove the additional compounds in the oil; however, it may improve bioavailability of both the THC and CBD in the oil Filtered oil is the oil that’s usually available from shops—like Hempura. All of the additional terpenes, chlorophyll and other leftovers from the extraction process are gotten rid of. At the end, all that’s left is pure, light gold CBD oil. This is similar to how certain kinds of alcohol are distilled once, twice, even three times to make the alcohol content more and more pure each time. By filtering the oil, it allows the manufacturer to more finely control the dose in the finished product (which is a good thing). However, if you want the more ‘natural’ version of the oil with a larger array of cannabinoids, hemp constituents etc, then you’re free to buy that, too.