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Cannabis, Cannabis Oil & CBD Oil

According to the NHS, and as discussed in our blog Lextox’s Most Commonly Detected Drugs’, cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit drug in the UK with 7.2% of adults aged 16 to 59 having used it in the last year – that’s approximately 2.6 million people* .

CBD oil has gained popularity in the US and UK in recent years. The UK CBD market is currently worth £300m and is expected to reach £1 billion by 2025**.

With the booming CBD market, we took a closer look at cannabis, cannabis-based products such as CBD oils and their potential impact on hair drug testing for family law.

What is cannabis, cannabis oil and CBD oil?

Cannabis plants are made up of over 100 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 delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC), cannabidiol, known as CBD, and cannabinol also known as CBN which is closely related to CBD.

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


When we refer to cannabis, also known as marijuana or weed, we are commonly referring to the class B substance that is used by recreational users to get ‘high’. Delta-9-THC is the primary constituent found in cannabis and is the psychoactive ingredient that causes a ‘high’.

Cannabis Oil

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 delta-9-THC and is not legal in the UK.

CBD oil

There’s a lot of stigma surrounding CBD oil as it is derived from the cannabis plant, however CBD isn’t psychoactive. Therefore, CBD oils are available to purchase over the counter and as a result are heavily regulated in the UK and must contain 0.2% or less of the psychoactive compound delta-9-THC, if any at all.

What does the current law state?

Cannabis is currently a class B controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Under UK law, CBD oils are grouped as food supplements, therefore cannot make any medicinal claims. If a CBD oil/product claims to alleviate illnesses or disease, it’s breaking the law. Therefore, most CBD products are marketed and sold as wellness supplements.

As of November 2018, 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 such as epilepsy.

Cannabis oil that contains a higher concentrate of delta-9-THC is illegal in the UK. Some cannabis oils are marketed as CBD oil but still contain a high concentrate of delta-9-THC, these are also illegal in the UK and such products are not sold via legitimate sources.

Although some countries have legalised cannabis, there are currently no government plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use in the UK.

How do cannabis-based products impact hair drug testing for family law?

Individuals who use legal 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.

Commercially available CBD oil contains mostly cannabidiol -CBD for short. 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 (CBD) or cannabinol (CBN).

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

To find out more about testing for cannabis or to book your sample collection appointment call 029 2048 4141 or email [email protected]



** Published 11/02/2020

Published 12/02/20 – All information correct at time of publication