What’s the difference between cannabis oil and CBD – and is it legal?

While shops as established as Holland and Barrett are still selling cannabidiol (CBD) products, the issue still appears to raise confusion and controversy.

Today police raided a vape shop in Plymouth and seized several CBD-related products.

The incident has resulted in widespread discussion – and outrage from CBD advocates.

What does the law say?

According to a number of reports in the national newspapers in April this year, while cannabis oil itself remains illegal to possess, supply or use, a change in the law recognised cannabidiol as a medicine.

This was down to scientific studies into its use. In essence, the CBD ‘oil’ is now legal in the UK.

Home Office guidance on the matter notes that CBD, or cannabidiol, in its pure form is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. So, where it can be extracted and isolated from the controlled substances in cannabis it would not require a licence from the Home Office.

However, a CBD product, which contains any trace of the psychoactive compounds that are found in cannabis, such as THC, or ‘tetrahydrocannibinol’, is considered to be a controlled substance under the 1971 Act. It is therefore unlawful to possess and supply unless it fits the criteria for an ‘exempt product’ under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

A Home Office spokesman said they were unable to comment on specific cases. They added: “It is the responsibility of retailers to ensure they have any necessary licences for products they sell.”

The expert explains

A spokesman for the Cannabis Trades Association UK – which represents the UK’s cannabis industry – told Plymouth Live: “Full flower or bud is illegal unless processed legally by a licensed company.

“This means that hemp from a field is deseeded and the remnants of the bud can then be sold as it is no longer defined as cannabis in UK law.



Vaping Is Personal Plymouth
Vaping Is Personal Plymouth

“Many people confuse the 0.2 percent THC level that defines hemp from marijuana and believe that this is the threshhold for legal sale but in fact any product on the marketplace today that has more than 1mg of THC is illegal.

“This is more than likely the reason why he [VIP Vaping shop owner] has had police come into the shop as all the other compliance issues that I have noticed would be dealt with by the FSA and the MRHA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] as medicinal claims are being made on products that are registered as food supplements.”

What is Cannabis oil?

Cannabis oil is a thick, sticky, resinous substance made up of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, that is extracted from the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica).

Cannabis oil is a cannabis based product obtained by separating the resins from cannabis flowers using a solvent extraction process. Cannabis oil can also be known as marijuana oil, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), Full extract cannbais oil (FECO), hash oil, dabs, shatter, or wax.

Cannabis oil is the most potent of three main cannabis products, which are the actual cannabis flower (marijuana), resin (hashish), and oil (cannabis oil).

Cannabis oil is the most concentrated form of the three main cannabis products. That is what makes cannabis oil the most potent.



CBD oil is now being sold in a number of places across the UK

What is the difference to cannabidiol (CBD)?

Marijuana is the breed of Cannabus that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), this is the chemical that produces psychotropic effects that get people “high”.

Hemp is also a breed – but it’s bred without THC. It’s rich in cannabidiol (CBD) which is the “nonpsychoactive component of Cannabis sativa”.

CBD oil does not produce a high, as it has less than 0.2% of the psychoactive ­tetra­­­hydro­­cannabinol, so it is legal in the UK.

CBD oil is used to ease the symptoms of multiple ­sclerosis, joint pain, anxiety and depression, along with a range of other conditions.

It is made by pressing hemp leaves and flowers.

The use of the word ‘oil’ is also misleading.

Hemp oil is available online as a food product, CBD oil contains high levels of cannabidiol and low THC, so it’s seen as medicinal.

Cannabis oil is an extract and is taken orally, but it’s different to the other two. The gist is cannabis oil gets people high, CBD oil doesn’t.

CBD for medical purposes

In 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that CBD products, if advertised for medical purposes, needed to be licensed.

CBD oil does not produce a high, as it has less than 0.2 percent of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, so it is legal in the UK.



Vaping Is Personal, in Devonport, is being raided by police
Vaping Is Personal, in Devonport, is being raided by police

Advocates of CBD oil claim it is used to ease the symptoms of multiple­sclerosis, joint pain, anxiety and depression, along with a range of other conditions.

In October 2016 a spokesman for the MHRA said the regulatory body, which advises the Government on legislation regarding drugs, had come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) “used for medical purposes are a medicine.”

As such, any medicinal product “must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt.

“Licensed medicinal products have to meet safety, quality and efficacy standards to protect public health.”

The MHRA said it had written to UK CBD stockists and manufacturers to inform them of their view, adding that they could provide regulatory guidance to any company who may wish to apply for a licence.

Patient safety

The following month, the MHRA added more clarity to its statement, saying it had “carefully considered the needs of individuals using CBD products to treat or manage the symptoms of medical conditions.”

They added: “Our primary concern is patient safety. In order to ensure that products remain available until individuals have the opportunity to discuss their treatment with their doctor, companies now have until 31 December 2016 to voluntarily operate within the law, by withdrawing their existing products from the market, or working with MHRA to satisfy the legal requirements of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.”

Again, they stated they had written to CBD manufacturers alerting them to the new timeline.



Some of the CBD products sold in the ‘Vaping is Personal’ store

The following month the MHRA released a third statement stating that people taking cannabidiol products to “treat or manage the symptoms of medical conditions should discuss their treatment with their doctor.”

The MHRA said it would “now work with individual companies and trade bodies in relation to making sure products containing CBD, used for a medical purpose, which can be classified as medicines, satisfy the legal requirements of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.”



Some of the CBD products sold in the ‘Vaping is Personal’ store

What happens next?

Assuming the products used in the VIP Vapers are the same as those sold in other premises, it does raise the question as to whether more Misuse of Drugs Act warrants will be executed not just at other similar stores in Plymouth, but across the whole of England and Wales.

It also raises the question as to whether the confusion over the details of cannabidiol may mean police have made an illegal seizure.

Forensic examination of the items seized may provide a clearer explanation.

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Source: https://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/news/plymouth-news/whats-difference-between-cannabis-oil-1988614

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