If you want a supplement that’s a full cannabis extract, there are several to choose from. Some are legal, others are illegal. So which should you buy, and how much THC will it contain?
The kind of CBD oil with the most THC is full spectrum oil. ‘Full spectrum’ means that it contains every cannabinoid that is naturally found in industrial hemp, THC included. It can legally contain 0.2% THC by volume. Broad spectrum oil is full spectrum oil that is treated to remove THC and several other compounds from the mixture. Both kinds of oil are legal.
Cannabis oil is another kind of oil that has even more THC content, so you might be wondering whether you can buy that, too (spoiler alert: it’s still illegal here in the U.K.) Read on to find out the answers to all your questions!
There are two main kinds of legal CBD oil in the U.K. These are full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oils. The names refer to the chemical compounds that each oil contains; full spectrum CBD oil contains them all, while broad spectrum contains most of them.
Full spectrum oil that’s sold in the U.K. contains a maximum of undetectable levels, or <0.03% on most gas chromatography or HPLC machines. That is enough that it may have an effect on the body, but not enough to recreate the experience of recreational marijuana. The government deems such a level to be safe and acceptable, provided that the THC is not easily taken from the product by the end consumer, and thereafter taken on its own.
It also contains many other cannabinoids. These have a variety of effects on the body, not limited to the kind produced by THC and by recreational marijuana. These effects have not been extensively studied because until very recently, cannabis-derived products were not in demand.
Full spectrum oil is legal provided that the percentage of THC is lower than 0.2%. Manufacturers have to be able to prove that their product meets this criterion in order to be able to sell.
Broad spectrum oil has been refined and processed further, but may still contain tiny, undetectable traces of THC. This is done through a process called winterisation, and filtration, and inherently with any filtration process, along with THC, several other things are removed from the oil, including plant fibres and some of the other trace cannabinoids. Doing so means that it can be sold legally in many places that it wouldn’t be able to if it contained THC.
Given that full spectrum oils are legal, it’s no surprise that broad spectrum oils are too. So, why might you want a broad spectrum oil instead of a full spectrum one?
Whatever the case, you have the option to pick your oil of choice. But if you want CBD oil with the most THC, then full spectrum oil is what you need.
If you search online for ‘cannabis oil’, the majority of results are related to CBD. But cannabis oil is actually something slightly different. It’s extracted in the same way, and contains many of the same active ingredients—for example, it contains CBD, just like CBD oil, and THC.
The major difference is that cannabis oil is extracted from different species of cannabis than CBD. CBD is derived from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is grown for its fibre, which it has more of than other species, and is perfect for extracting CBD oil. That’s because it contains more CBD and less THC than other species.
Cannabis oil, by contrast, is extracted from species that have high THC concentrations and low CBD concentrations. The finished oil therefore has far more THC than CBD oil.
Either way, the THC content of cannabis oil is highly variable. It is frequently made from specially bred strains of cannabis that have exceptionally high THC levels. Not only that, but the cannabis oil product itself can be further refined until it’s almost pure THC, i.e. almost 100%.
It’s the THC and other psychoactive cannabinoids in cannabis that make it illegal. Any product that contains similarly high levels of these compounds is illegal too. That means that high-THC cannabis oil can’t be legally made or sold here in the U.K.
There are exceptions. In 2018, the government changed the law so that medicinal cannabis products could be legally prescribed to certain patients through the NHS. The treatments may only be prescribed by specialist doctors, and only in cases where other treatments have failed to produce expected results. Cannabis oil is one of these exceptions, and it is given to:
However, it can only be prescribed in these circumstances. You cannot use these conditions as an excuse for buying a product that’s against the law. You’re also not allowed to make your own, as that would be illegal too.
So, why is hemp legal when it’s made from a very similar plant? It’s legal because it doesn’t contain these psychoactive compounds in high enough levels. Hemp has been selectively bred to have lots of CBD and fibre, which makes it useful in an industrial sense.
Other cannabis species haven’t undergone this process. Instead, many have been selectively bred to have more THC.
But that doesn’t mean you can start growing hemp in your back garden. You still need a licence from the Home Office to grow it. Plus, if you wanted to extract your own CBD, you’d need lots of expensive equipment. Leave it to the experts at Hempura instead!