You are interested in CBD oil and maybe you have already made first positive experiences with it? Now you want to know if you can produce such oils at home? Are you concerned that the self-production might be illegal?
Learn more about the production of cannabidiol oils and related questions below.
Production process and legal framework for CBD oil
Certain legal conditions apply to the production of cannabidiol oils. You also need a certain type of hemp for the oils.
You should know this about the cannabis plants and the extraction methods
Maybe you already know that different cannabis plants are distinguished. Cannabidiol oils are produced from the useful hemp plant. The Latin name is Cannabis sativa. It is the counterpart to the cannabis plant Cannabis indica.
What distinguishes Cannabis sativa from Cannabis indica?
Industrial hemp contains no or only a very small amount of THC. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol. It is this substance that is responsible for the noisy effect in some forms of hemp.
Like cannabidiol, THC is also a cannabinoid. However, its effects differ from cannabidiol not only in noise generation.
When it comes to the production of cannabidiol oils currently available on the open market, the only possible source of raw material is hemp. We also speak of fibre hemp with this hemp. Its high fibre content is about 30-40%.
How can commercial hemp be grown?
Not all varieties of hemp may be grown in the European Union. As a first step, the seed must be certified seed.
Commercial hemp varieties are only accepted as seed if they have a THC content of less than 0.2%. The authorisation procedure is a formal legal act. In 2017, about 52 varieties of hemp were approved for cultivation in the EU.
But even if an authorised variety of hemp is used, the cultivation of hemp must be notified to certain authorities. In Germany, the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food is responsible for this.
If you want to produce CBD oils, you need access to cannabis plants that meet the legal requirements.
However, this does not mean that all the obstacles have been removed by a long way in order to start in-house production.
What extraction methods are available for CBD?
Cannabidiol is a substance contained in the useful hemp plant. It is present in the plant in the form of an inactive substance, the so-called carboxylic acid (CBDa).
In order to become available for oils, for example, you need to bring cannabidiol into its active form. Experts call this process decarboxylation.
If you now think you could just press the leaves, you are thinking in the wrong direction. Cannabidiol oil is not produced from the seeds of the plant like hemp oil.
So it won't get you anywhere simply subjecting seeds or leaves of Cannabis sativa to a pressing process.
For the production of cannabidiol oils, these processes can be considered:
- Use of solvents such as butane, hexane or various alcohols
In the professional sector, many manufacturers prefer the particularly gentle CO2 extraction. This extraction method also preserves other valuable ingredients of the hemp, such as terpenes.
Therefore it is possible to produce so-called full spectrum oils with these extracts. Full spectrum in this context means that desired co-formulants such as terpenes remain in the finished CBD product.
In this context we also speak of the so-called entourage effect. Afterwards, a synergetic effect between cannabidiol and other valuable co-formulants should occur. This results in an amplification of the effect.
Under heating and with solvents, particularly intensive extracts can be produced, which are very rich in the active ingredient. On the other hand, these particularly pure high-dose extracts can also pose special legal problems.
The general legal framework
Two possible problem areas arise in the legal evaluation of cannabidiol products:
Some experts consider CBD products to be pharmaceuticals in general.
You may remember that dietary supplements are counted as food. Cannabidiol is currently used in parallel in pharmaceuticals and in food supplements.
As food supplements, the products are currently available over the counter. Pharmaceuticals, on the other hand, are subject to strict regulation.
If all these cannabidiol products were to be finally classified as medicinal products, it would ultimately be impossible to continue offering over-the-counter products here. This view is shared by some stakeholders from the pharmaceutical-medical sector and various experts.
At present, both classifications seem possible both as food supplements and as medicinal products.
It can be difficult to draw the line on THC-containing products.
The cultivation of Cannabis indica is illegal. Cannabis products that exceed the permissible limit of THC are also illegal. Drugs containing THC are now approved for certain medical therapies under a strict prescription by doctors.
It is not always easy to tell in the sales department what kind of product - THC-containing or not - you are dealing with.
Currently, the sale of CBD oils is largely tolerated. However, the legal situation has not yet been clearly clarified. One of the consequences of this is that authorities in some federal states are taking action against the sale of CBD products.
This applies in particular to the stationary retail trade.
What are the consequences for your own production?
Those who produce cannabidiol products themselves are operating in an insecure environment. Here, it is important to ensure that the resulting extract does not contain too much THC.
We would like to point out to experts that the extraction methods also differ in how the final product contains THC. Here it is not only the source plant that matters.
Besides, you'll barely be able to check,
- how much THC is contained in your purchased cannabis plants and
- what you ended up producing.
Sometimes even the plants come from dubious sources. Here you can only rely on the information provided by the cultivation company. You probably do not have the analytical capabilities at home to check the content of the various substances in the final product.
The self-production of oils will therefore always remain within a somewhat uncertain legal framework.
How can you produce CBD oil yourself?
You probably do not have a modern CO2 extraction plant at home. Not only do these systems take up a certain amount of space, they are usually also very expensive. That is why CO2 extraction is regularly left to the professional sector and is out of the ordinary in private life.
The pure heating of plant parts leads to unpredictable results in self application and cannot be carried out easily either.
As a rule, one would have to work with a medium such as steam. This is possible, but one can have problems to derive the distillate without professional tools.
Butane extractors are offered for a manufacturer of cannabidiol oils. These can also be priced within a range that a private person can manage.
However, these devices and the process have various disadvantages or pose safety risks:
- You are working with an oil product that is highly flammable.
- This petroleum product is often not sustainable, which is why residues may remain in the extract obtained.
- There is no guarantee that valuable co-formulants such as terpenes are retained by this extraction method. There is more evidence that they will be destroyed.
- You won't be able to judge the concentration in the final extract very well. This means that you may produce a very high dosage of extract, which is also not safely free of residues. This makes the use of a homemade product a potential risk for you.
Especially if you have little experience with cannabidiol oils, it is recommended to choose a low dosage product with about 5% at the beginning. How much percent your homemade extract contains, you can hardly evaluate.
It is also possible that too little extract is produced.
You can also perform an alcoholic extraction.
For this purpose, crushed plant material is poured in a pot with 95 percent food alcohol. After a few minutes of drawing time, the oily alcohol mixture is poured into a different ratio. The process is repeated several times with the original plant material.
Then you filter out the plant material and heat the alcohol mixture to about 100 °C. The heating processcauses the alcohol to evaporate. After evaporation, a residue remains in the pot.
This is the CBD extract, which you can now mix with a carrier oil (e.g. olive oil or cold-pressed hemp seed oil) for use.
Alcoholic extraction also has several disadvantages:
- Vapours are produced during evaporation, so you can only carry out the process in well-ventilated rooms or outdoors.
- It is not guaranteed that the alcohol evaporates completely without leaving any residue.
- Alcohols release undesirable accompanying substances such as chlorophyll from the plant. This can negatively influence the taste of the finished product.
Even with this extraction method you cannot evaluate the CBD content in the finished product at the end.
Especially herbalists suggest the so-called maceration for the self-production of cannabidiol oils at home.
Maceration is a very old, traditional method of dissolving substances from plants.
You mix the hemp plants with a vegetable oil in a glass bottle and close it well. If possible, the plant parts should no longer come into contact with air.
The bottle now remains closed for about 3 weeks. After this period, a balanced ratio of plant material to oil of 50:50 should have developed.
Maceration has various advantages and disadvantages for you:
- The method is very harmless and very easy to perform.
- Contamination by solvents does not occur here. As a rule, you will receive a relatively mild end product.
- Your finished cannabidiol oil is probably rather weakly concentrated. You will succeed in dissolving a maximum of 50% of the plant substances from the plant parts. But you cannot be sure which substances you actually release from the cannabis plant.
- Some experts doubt that maceration can actually achieve the necessary decarboxylation of the inactive precursors of cannabidiol. You may get an oil that contains only the pre-stage CBDa.
Various scientific studies are currently underway which also attribute certain health-promoting properties to CBDa.
In particular, the scientist Raphael Mechoulam from Israel is again dealing with CBDa and its possible effects.
However, research in this area is not yet complete. Furthermore, when you produce cannabidiol oils yourself, you are concerned with the cannabidiol and not with its precursors.
Advantages of high-quality professional products
If you are still thinking about whether a DIY manufacturing process is worthwhile for you, take a look at the possible advantages of professional products. The manufacturers of high-quality CBD products usually know the characteristics of the source plants very well.
Here, under certain circumstances, even plants from organic farming are purchased. Anyone who has been professionally manufacturing such products for a long time also knows about the most modern extraction processes.
Standardized premium products are regularly produced here during the manufacturing process, whose content of active ingredients can be precisely defined.
With professional, reputable providers you can also regularly choose from products,
- which are less intensive and
- have different percentage contents of cannabidiol.
Most of the time, you can also find high-quality full spectrum oils at such a supplier. Seen from these aspects, self-production is not necessarily cheaper for you either. Doing it yourself can be very complex in your case and already quite expensive in terms of the necessary raw materials.
Conclusion: Doing it yourself is possible, but only worthwhile to a limited extent
You can make CBD products. However, you have to be aware that you are moving within an unclear legal framework. As a buyer of finished products you are currently on the safe side.
This is less true for in-house production.
The legal uncertainties already start when you relate seeds or plant parts. As described above, the cultivation of authorised hemp is also subject to notification in the EU.
Illegal seeds and plant parts are also offered on the Internet. Therefore, you may end up with a plant that contains more THC than you want and is considered legal.
The products you manufacture are not standardized and you can hardly determine the proportions of active ingredients in them yourself.
Some production methods are associated with dangers. You also need special equipment for some manufacturing processes.
Your own products are not necessarily cheaper to produce than those you buy.
Note: In this article we report on prescription cannabis, prescription CBD or over-the-counter or legal CBD. This Article does not make any proposal as to the possible purpose of the proposal and is for information and education purposes only. Promises of healing and benefits are excluded.