CBD comes from cannabis. Simple, right?
The cannabinoid has done wonders to destigmatise the plant which had until recently been better known for the narcotic effect of THC.
But it’s this association that has shaped the rules around CBD extraction around the globe.
Sativa vs. Indica
The highest concentration of CBD is within the cannabis flower itself.
But in the UK and EU, CBD can only be extracted from the seeds and stem of approved hemp varieties of the plant, also known as cannabis sativa.
These EU-approved strains contain a maximum of 0.2% THC. The EU’s THC limit for industrial hemp was lowered from 0.3% in 1999, with experts believing that the 0.3% cap presented a health risk.
It was also hoped that the change would prevent high-THC marijuana or cannabis indica varieties from being grown in industrial hemp fields.
On the up?
In October 2020, the European Parliament signed off on a proposal to raise the THC limit back to 0.3%, in line with the US.
European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) president, Daniel Kruse, said:
“This is an historic moment for our industry, for our farmers, for a green future and for all Europeans.
“Finally, the EU has a level playing field again with the global industrial hemp sector.”
More THC = More CBD?
The 0.2% THC cap is a problem because the amount of CBD in a plant rises in proportion to its THC content.
European farmers have not had an incentive to grow these higher-THC crops and this has allowed the US to monopolise the market.
If the new act is adopted by the EU, industrial hemp would be redefined, and your CBD could be extracted from higher-THC strains.
To be legal in the UK and Europe, the CBD in a finished product must come from EU-approved hemp plants, not marijuana.
For now, that means industrial hemp grown from seeds that contain no more than 0.2% THC.
This could be set to change in Europe. But at the time of writing, the Home Office has no plans to follow suit in the UK.