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Cannabis oil, marijuana oil, hemp oil, THC oil and CBD oil are all terms that are used interchangeably, but they refer to very different products. All come from the cannabis plant family but have very different effects depending on whether they stem from the hemp or marijuana plant (see figure).

Cannabis oil
THC (or Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol to give it its full name) is the psychoactive component in all cannabis products, which gives users the ‘high’ feeling. THC is a central nervous stimulant that can alter mood and sensory perceptions. Hemp plants tend to produce low amounts of THC and high levels of cannabidiol (CBD). Conversely, the marijuana plant produces high THC levels and low CBD levels.

The confusion arises when the term cannabis oil is used to denote both hemp- and marijuana-based products. Marijuana-based cannabis oil has a high level of psychoactive compounds per volume (which can be up to 98% THC content). This potent cannabis oil cannot be sold legally in the UK.

CBD (and hemp) oil can be sold legally in the UK and is recognised as having medical benefits. As well as being used to ease the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and joint pain, it is claimed to promote sleep, boost appetite and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. CBD has also been claimed to help people with epilepsy manage their seizures.

Implications for drug testing

CBD is not a direct metabolite of THC. This means that the body does not produce CBD as a by-product of THC breakdown. Therefore, the presence of CBD in any sample is dependent on the concentration in the cannabis oil that the sample donor has originally ingested. Commercially available CBD (and hemp) oil contains up to 5% CBD and 0.05% THC.

AlphaBiolabs’ laboratory confirmatory tests look for, and distinguish between, THC and CBD in oral fluid and hair. With illegal THC (and marijuana) oil, the levels of THC detected in an oral fluid or hair sample will be much greater than the levels of CBD detected. Our urine confirmatory tests look for the THC metabolite THC-COOH only, CBD is not monitored for and will not interfere with the results of this test.

If CBD oil were to be used in excess, we would expect to see levels of CBD much higher than THC. However, it is unlikely that at the recommended dose, either of these compounds, and in particular THC, would be seen in a confirmatory urine sample.

Care needs to be taken, however. While it is legal, some CBD bought from online sellers can be contaminated with THC in higher concentrations than are currently allowed. In theory, this could mean that a sample could test positive for THC. The implications are that a single drug screen is not enough. In such cases, the testing laboratory would need to conduct more in-depth follow-up testing to avoid false positives.

A more in-depth article on the subject of cannabis oil can be found on our Learning Centre. For information on any of AlphaBiolabs’ drug testing solutions, including our home drug testing kit, please call 0333 600 1300 or email us at info@alphabiolabs.com.