Blog Post

Cannabis, Cannabis Oil and CBD Oil

According to a recent report* and, as discussed in our blog ‘Lextox’s Most Commonly Detected Drugs’, cannabis remains the most commonly used drug in the UK with 7.2% of adults aged 16 to 59 having used it in the last year – that’s approximately 2.4 million people.

With the legalisation of cannabis in Canada earlier this year, some specialist doctors in the UK now able to prescribe medicinal cannabis, and a growing call for reform in British politics, we took a closer look at the drug, oils and their potential impact on hair drug testing for family law.

What is cannabis, cannabis oil and CBD oil?

When we talk about cannabis today it’s important to make a clear distinction between cannabis, cannabis oil and CBD oil.

Cannabis plants are made up of 104 different cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptor cells, altering neurotransmitter releases in the brain.

The most notable cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol, known as delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), cannabidiol, known as CBD, and cannabinol also known as CBN which is closely related to CBD.

Delta-9-THC is the primary psychoactive constituent found in cannabis used by recreational users to get “high”.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is non-psychoactive and can be used to relieve pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, and it has also been known to alleviate depression and anxiety.

There has been confusion recently, as quite often legal CBD oil is being marketed and sold as cannabis oil; however, these are two different products. Actual cannabis oil has a high level of THC and is not legal in the UK.

What does the current law state?

Cannabis is currently a class B controlled drug under the misuse of drugs act 1971.

However, as of November of this year, some specialist doctors listed on the General Medical Council’s register are now able to legally prescribe certain cannabis-based products to treat certain ailments.

Some cannabis products, such as CBD oil, are available over the counter, but these are heavily regulated in the UK and must contain 0.2% or less of the psychoactive compound delta-9-THC.

Cannabis oil; usually used for recreational use generally contains more than 5% of delta-9-THC, this is illegal in the UK.

There are currently no government plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use in the UK.

How will recent and proposed changes impact hair drug testing for family law?

Individuals who use CBD oil may have concerns about whether it will cause them to fail a hair drug test.

A hair drug test for cannabis at Lextox will test for delta-9-THC as well as two metabolites (substances that are produced by the body when the drug is taken and can be used to indicate direct usage) which are 11 nor-9-carboxy-delta-9-THC and 11-hydroxy-delta-9-THC, as well as the cannabis constituent, cannabinol.

Commercially available CBD oil contains cannabidiol. It contains little, if any, delta-9-THC. Therefore, the use of CBD oil should not give rise to positive delta-9-THC/metabolite hair results. Lextox do not test for cannabidiol.

However all products, whether prescribed or purchased, should be declared at the time of sample collection to aid accurate interpretation of results.

To find out more about testing for cannabis or to book your sample collection appointment call 029 2048 4141 or email experts@lextox.co.uk

References:

*ACMD Reports & Drug wise report released 2017