We have had a few customers surprised to find out that, for some there is THC in their hemp derived CBD product. This has prompted us to answer the question, is there THC in my CBD?
The short answer is, quite possibly.
Let’s take a step back and define these two very commonly used acronyms, CBD and THC.
Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant, just like you find carotenoids in carrots. CBD or Cannabidiol is one of two main active compounds called cannabinoids found naturally in the Cannabis sativa plant. The other cannabinoid is THC or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. Other cannabinoids found in smaller amounts are CBN, CBG and many other that are referred to as minor cannabinoids.
While both CBD and THC and the many other compounds in cannabis have many medicinal properties, THC has one unique feature, it’s psychoactive. Unlike THC, CBD and other minor cannabinoids are not psychoactive. In other words, THC is the compound that’s gets people high, whereas CBD and other minor cannabinoids just have the medicinal properties. It’s important to note that you can utilize the medical properties of THC in small enough doses and not feel its psychoactive effect.
Cannabis as Medicine
In the U.S., cannabis was widely utilized as a patent medicine during the 19th and early 20th centuries, first described in the United States Pharmacopoeia in 1850 and finally dropped in 1942. If it weren’t for the psychoactive properties of THC, there is good chance that cannabinoids would have continued to be used in every aspect of medical science.
Hemp vs. Marijuana
A big distinction determining where cannabinoids like CBD and THC can be sold is the plant from which they are extracted, be it hemp or marijuana. Both varieties, hemp and marijuana come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa. It wasn’t until the 2014 US Farm Bill that the difference became a legal one. Previously hemp was a spindly cannabis plant grown for its fiber to make textiles like rope and canvas and marijuana is the slang term for cannabis smoked for its THC content.
Legal Definition of Hemp
To legalize the hemp industry at the federal level, the government needed to propose a legal difference between hemp and marijuana, since marijuana is still a federally controlled substance. While there is no regulation on the percentages of THC in marijuana, hemp must have a THC concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
To be legally sold outside of a state regulated marijuana dispensary, cannabinoids like CBD and THC must be derived from a hemp plant.
So that gets us back to our original question, does my CBD products contain THC? Maybe.
Classification of Hemp Derived CBD Products
The hemp industry adopted 3 classifications of products to make the distinction as to whether products contain THC: full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate.
- Full Spectrum – Contains less than or equal to the legal amount of THC allowed in hemp products along with CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Broad Spectrum – Does not contain THC. Contains CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes. The THC has been stripped out.
- CBD isolate – Does not contain THC. Contains only pure isolated CBD and no other cannabinoids and terpenes.
How Much THC
Now that you know which products may contain THC, the next question is how much?
Unfortunately, the original law that defined the amount of THC allowed in hemp was written for the plant itself and not for a finished product like a hemp derived CBD tincture. The amount of THC allowed is written as a percent by weight, which makes sense if you are weighing a plant but not for a tincture, capsule or gummy. I believe the US Farm Bill was written for hemp to be grown for textiles rather than nutritional supplements.
Third Party Testing
To determine how much THC is in any given product you may need to look at the manufacturer’s third-party test or CoA (Certificate of Analysis) if it’s not specifically listed on the label. Unfortunately, CoA’s are not always easy to read, even to the experienced user. Sometimes the amount of THC and other cannabinoids is reported by serving and other times by weight. In the latter case, the user would have to know the weight of the product to figure out the amount of THC in a serving.
Rule of Thumb
As a general rule of thumb, since THC is regulated by weight, a full spectrum tincture can contain approximately 0.8 mg THC per 25 mg of CBD. Most capsules have a similar amount or even twice that amount. Since gummies weigh more than a tincture or capsules, they can contain more THC. In this case they are usually clearly labeled with the amount of each cannabinoid.
To note, just because a CBD product is labeled Full Spectrum, it may not contain any THC. Since the THC content of a product may vary by batch, a manufacturer may prefer not to label their product THC free if it has not been purposely stripped out. To be on the safe side, if you prefer a product that does not contain THC, choose broad spectrum products.
If you ever have a question whether a product contains THC, please contact us. We’re always happy to assist you. We also list all of our products by spectrum, whether they contain <0.3% THC or are THC-Free.