How is CBD oil produced?
All CBD products supplied by Love Hemp are derived from industrial hemp grown legally under licence.
In Europe, industrial hemp is cannabis with less than 0.2% THC, the psychoactive ingredient. In the USA the limit is 0.3% but the difference is so small as to be insignificant. There is one other important difference in Europe the variety of industrial hemp used must be on an EU approved list. In America the only criterion is the THC limit. Charlotte’s Web, for instance, could not legally be grown as industrial hemp in Europe but it is in the USA. However it is perfectly legal to import, sell and purchase Charlotte’s Web products.
Historically, industrial hemp has been grown either for its fibre or for seeds. Today hemp fibre is used mainly for textiles, it’s previous use for rope has largely been superseded by nylon and other synthetics. Seeds are used as a food or for pressing into hempseed oil. Industrial hemp for these purposes is grown outside in fields much the same as any cereal crop. For fibre, it is sown very close together and often grows very tall. Seed varieties are shorter and are given more space to mature and develop flower heads.
There are many other potential uses for hemp but there is currently no significant processing plant capability in the UK and without such an outlet there is nowhere for farmers to sell their crop. One of the best qualities of hemp is the strength of its fibre but this makes harvesting and processing it much more difficult. It literally destroys machinery used for other agricultural crops.
As more and more industrial hemp is being grown for CBD, different cultivation techniques are being used. Plants are given more room, they are often grown under glass or in a polytunnel, sometime under lights, either as a supplement to sunlight or indoors as the primary lighting source. Each plant is individually nurtured and allowed to mature and flower to produce the optimum levels of CBD. Typically, the plants will now be grown as ‘sinsemilla’, without seeds so that all male plants will be removed as soon as they can be identified. Plants may be grown from cuttings rather than seeds. If a particularly successful mother plant can be identified, its genetic clones through successive generations can be a much more productive method than growing from seed.
Once the plants have been harvested, they are allowed to dry slowly and naturally. Only the flowering tops are used for producing the highest quality oil and these are crushed and ground finely before being processed by supercritical CO2 extraction equipment. When pressurised and gently heated CO2 changes from a gas into a ‘supercritical’ state somewhere between a gas and a liquid and it becomes a powerful solvent which will extract the oil from the plant matter. With the pressure varied it can be adjusted to extract particular components so ‘tuned’ to extract maximum CBD but leave traces of THC behind. Also, because all this takes place at relatively low temperatures, the volatile terpenes and flavonoids in the plant are more easily preserved in the oil and these are important to the beneficial ‘entourage effect’ of CBD oil.