One of the main worries that people have about CBD is its link to cannabis. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, and they’re chemically similar—so your worries are understandable!
Can CBD oil turn into THC? It can, but only in very select circumstances. It doesn’t change into THC on its own, e.g. by going stale or going bad. There’s no danger of this occurring. CBD also doesn’t turn into THC when ingested (at least not in any more than trace amounts). However, CBD is chemically similar to THC. This means it can be transformed into the illegal compound in a laboratory setting.
You would need to add a laboratory-grade acid to CBD oil to create THC, as well as a full laboratory setup. This is dangerous and illegal and would mean that the CBD no longer has its desired effect.
CBD and THC are both ‘cannabinoids’. This is a term given to more than a hundred chemical compounds found in cannabis and some plants of the same family. Cannabinoids are poorly understood, with the only one that’s received significant attention being THC.
THC is the compound in cannabis responsible for it getting you ‘high’. CBD is a different compound also known as cannabidiol. CBD oil hardly contains any, which is why it’s legally allowed to be sold. It can’t get you high in the same way as THC products can.
THC and CBD are isomers. This means that they have the same chemical formula (C21 H30 O2). But isomers are different in one crucial way: their structures are different. But it’s this difference in structure that gives the two compounds completely different effects.
This difference isn’t huge. The only change is that one chemical bond is missing. You might be forgiven for thinking that the two are therefore similar in effect, but they aren’t—although CBD and THC work together and make the effects of THC less potent.
As a rule, there shouldn’t be any THC in your CBD oil bar trace amounts. CBD oil is made using hemp, which contains hardly any THC, but lots of CBD. That’s why hemp can legally be grown if you have a license, and why hemp products like our oils are legal.
Analysis of CBD oil shows that it contains only trace amounts. A ‘trace amount’ is an amount so low that it’s practically nothing.
An example is when you buy food from the store; if it says it may contain nuts, for example, in trace amounts, that means that nuts aren’t an ingredient the manufacturer put in. But because the food is processed in a factory that also processes peanuts, then there may be the most infinitesimally small amount of peanut in whatever you’re eating.
If CBD oil did contain lots of THC, then it couldn’t be legally sold here in the U.K. All products containing more than trace amounts of THC are banned. So don’t worry, the government isn’t going to come knocking on your door if you buy some CBD oil!
If you paid attention in chemistry class, you may know that the structure of a chemical compound can be changed under certain conditions. In other words, sometimes a compound can be turned into its isomer. In short, yes: CBD can turn into THC.
But this doesn’t happen on its own. You would have to make it happen. The required condition? You have to cause a chemical reaction by creating a mixture with an acid. This will make the chemical bond that’s required to make change CBD into THC. Needless to say, but this would ruin your oil!.
So, CBD oil won’t turn into THC just by sitting on your shelf. It can only go through that chemical reaction in the presence of an acid, not on its own. It will only degrade like any other supplement, either turning stale or going bad when it’s eaten by bacteria. That’s not something you have to worry about if you take your CBD regularly.
The government have taken note of the fact that CBD can turn into THC. While hemp products are legal, what isn’t legal is selling something with lots of THC in it. At the same time, it’s illegal to sell anything that can easily be made into THC. It’s the same reason that fake money printing machines can’t be sold on the high street!
Of course, nobody keeps hydrochloric acid at home for just such an occasion. But there’s one kind of acid we can all use: stomach acid. This begs the question, does stomach acid turn CBD into THC?
The answer is yes, but it’s not a straightforward yes. In chemistry, there’s a term called ‘yield’. Yield refers to how much of X you get by combining Y and Z. A 100% yield indicates that all of the precursor substances were turned into your desired substance. 75% is a good yield, while below 50% is no good. Yield can vary based on temperature, time, and lots of other factors.
Stomach acid isn’t effective at turning CBD into THC. It’s thought that combining CBD with stomach acid gives a yield of around 3% THC. That’s practically nothing because bear in mind that CBD oil isn’t pure CBD.
This is borne out in scientific testing. Volunteers who take CBD don’t report any THC-like symptoms. This shows that even if a little could hypothetically turn into THC, it doesn’t happen in practice.
So, this might sound exceedingly simple. All you have to do is add acid to your CBD to create THC, right? But it’s anything but easy. And it’s certainly not something you can easily (or legally) do at home.
To do so, you would need a laboratory setup. With instruments that aren’t cleaned to laboratory standard, and with sub-par equipment, your experiment almost certainly wouldn’t go as planned. You would also need a good understanding of how chemical reactions work.
Besides that, you’d need to be able to test substances to find out what’s in them. If you were to mix your CBD oil with acid, but not test it, then the substance could still be highly acidic. That’s the last thing you want to be taking.
THC is an illegal and controlled substance in the U.K. As of 2019, the government have no plans to legalise THC and products that contain THC, unlike many other parts of the world. Because it’s a controlled substance, synthesising your own THC is illegal.
Besides that, conducting your own chemistry class at home is far from safe. Not only do you need to safely store dangerous substances (like strong acids), but the mixture you make won’t be consistent unless you make it under strict laboratory conditions. In other words, sometimes your experiment would result in a yield of 30%; if you’re lucky, it could result in a 90% THC yield.
And anyway, this is all to miss the point of CBD oil. CBD isn’t supposed to be a replacement or a substitute for THC. It’s not supposed to replicate THC’s effects, not in any way shape or form. CBD is a supplement that does far more important things for your body than giving you a quick buzz.