The Changing Attitude Towards Hemp & CBD in the UK
Hemp – its popularity and benefits
Hemp and cannabis derived products are growing in popularity. With products such as cosmetics, building material, clothing, medicine, superfoods and CBD oils available. An indication of its growing popularity is that the NEC is about to host its first ever Hemp & CBD Trade Show at the weekend.
Attitudes are changing in the UK towards cannabis and its medicinal benefits. This issue was making headlines last year when Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that specialist doctors in the UK will be able to legally prescribe cannabis-derived medicinal products.
What is the difference between cannabis, hemp & CBD?
Cannabis is currently a controlled drug in the UK. Cannabis plants are made up of over 100 cannabinoids, the most well know of these are THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid – the one that recreational users use to get “high”. CBD does not have this effect.
While almost all cannabinoids are controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act, CBD – cannabidiol as it is also known – is not.
CBD is cannabidiol extracted from hemp oil. It is non-psychoactive; it does not cause a high. It is extracted from hemp and sold, generally without legal restrictions, as long as it does not claim to have any medicinal benefits. Discovered in the 1980s, it appears to affect the body’s homeostasis, influencing mood, sleep, appetite, hormone regulation and pain and immune response. In the US it is used most commonly for treating epileptic seizures in children, eating disorders, and general aches and pains.
THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, an intoxicant. That is the compound that gives you a high and has the medicinal characteristic of easing pain.
The oil that has been in the news recently due to its uses by those with epilepsy is cannabis oil, which has a higher THC content, and so, unlike CBD oil, is not usually allowed in the UK.
But Sativex, which is a 50-50 mix of THC and CBD produced in a lab, has been approved for use in the UK by the MHRA as a treatment for multiple scelorsis. However in 2014 the advice to doctors, was “do not recommend” as it was considered to not be cost-effective. So, the ruling last year by the Home Secretary could be the start of changing opinions and legislation in the UK.
How is the oil extracted?
The industrial processing of cannabis involves extracting oils which contain either CBD or THC. Originally all the research work was done in small quantities in laboratories. This led to extraction using butane, hexane, or supercritical carbon dioxide. All of these have well known limitations. Hexane and butane are dangerous chemicals to work with, and supercritical carbon dioxide requires expensive equipment and has low-quantity throughputs. Because of this we are seeing a trend toward alcohol extraction.
Vincent presses have a long history of being used with alcohol extraction. Mixed with alcohol, the chemical ingredients in cannabis are diffused into the alcohol. This ethanol can then be expelled from the hemp fibre using a screw press. Typically our Series CP screw presses are being used, the most common machine being the small CP4.
If you would like to find about more about the Vincent Screw Press for hemp, then please contact us here.