Frequently Asked Questions:
Hemp/CBD Industry

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, which is a compound found in hemp and marijuana plants. It is a nonintoxicating cannabinoid, meaning that it does not produce the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis or THC use.

What laws recently changed to impact the public and governmental view of CBD?

At the federal level, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Pub L. 115-334 (the 2018 Farm Bill) was signed into law on December 20, 2018. This new law changed certain federal authorities relating to the production and marketing of hemp, defined as “… the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds, thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% percentage on a dry weight basis.” This change removed hemp from the CSA, which means that cannabis plants and derivatives that contain no more than 0.3% percentage on a dry weight basis are no longer controlled substances under federal law.

What is the 2018 Farm Bill?

  • The 2018 Farm Bill is a federal law enacted in December 2018.
  • It legalized the cultivation, processing, sale, and possession of industrial hemp at the federal level.
  • Hemp was removed from the list of controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • It authorized hemp research and pilot programs by states, tribes, and institutions of higher education.
  • The interstate transportation and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products were legalized.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was given regulatory authority over hemp cultivation.
  • Hemp-derived cannabinoids, such as CBD, were explicitly legalized.
  • States can have their own regulations for hemp cultivation but must comply with USDA oversight.
  • The 2018 Farm Bill opened up opportunities for the hemp industry, allowing for increased cultivation, research, and commercialization of hemp and hemp-derived products.

What are the purported benefits of the non-intoxicating cannabinoids (i.e., CBD in combination with other minor cannabinoids)?

Various studies reference a variety of health benefits, and the strongest scientific evidence is in treating childhood epilepsy such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Patients with these ailments typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. In various studies, CBD was able to reduce the number of seizures, and in some cases stop them. Epidiolex, which contains CBD, was the first cannabis-derived medicine approved by the FDA for these conditions. Other studies and reports suggest cannabinoids (CBD plus other minor cannabinoids) may also help with:

  • Anxiety – studies and clinical trials are exploring whether cannabinoids may reduce anxiety.
  • Insomnia – Studies suggest cannabinoids may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep.
  • Chronic pain – Human studies suggest that cannabinoids help control pain. One animal study from the European Journal of Pain suggests that cannabinoids could help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis when applied to skin. Other research identifies how CBD may inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
  • Addiction – Cannabinoids have been known to lower cravings for tobacco and heroin under certain conditions, according to some research in humans. Animal models of addiction suggest it may also help lessen cravings for alcohol, opiates, and stimulants.

Ongoing research aims to further understand their effects and benefits.*

Is CBD the same as marijuana or THC?

CBD is a component of both the hemp plant and the marijuana plant. Hemp and marijuana are two different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant, with the primary difference being the percentage of THC by dry weight (hemp has to have 0.3% THC or less). Effectively, these plants are basically cousins, and they look about the same, but the THC and CBD levels are different and in reverse percentages in the two plants. The internal components of the plants are different, but the hemp and the marijuana plants can be mistaken for each other because they basically look the same. Though, typically, a marijuana plant is short and wide, whereas a hemp plant is grown more for industrial purposes and it is tall and thin. The significant difference between the hemp and marijuana plants is the percentages of CBD (non-psychoactive component) and THC (psychoactive component). The marijuana plant/dry flower contains a large amount of THC (10%-30%), whereas CBD is contained in very small percentages. Alternatively, the hemp plant contains a large amount of CBD and a very small percentage of THC (by definition, it is less than 0.3% at dry weight). Rough averages of the amount of THC in a marijuana plant to the amount in a hemp plant range from 50x to 100x times more THC in a marijuana plant vs a hemp plant.

Why was the hemp plant banned for so long in the United States?

The history here can be found in various books, journals, and articles—but the summary is that hemp was grown for its fibers for several centuries before it was banned in the 1930s with the Marihuana Tax Act due to its relation as a cousin plant to Marijuana. It is stated that the textile and newspaper industry used their lobbying power to end the cultivation and production of mostly hemp, but it did continue in some states. Hemp fibers were used to make specialty paper (and it still used in much of the world as a specialty paper outside the U.S.), rope, sails, and clothing. It is said that in 1918, Wisconsin had nine hemp mills due to its strong demand across a number of applications, including the fact that hemp mills provided hemp for use in naval rope needed for WW I. Synthetic fibers entered the country after the war, so demand for hemp declined. Because of its relation to the marijuana plant, it was also banned in 1970s Controlled Substances Act, despite the fact that it still had good commercial properties that could be used in many applications. Based on changes in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, its use and applications are growing again in various applications—include paper, packaging, clothing, textiles, animal feed, plastic, tinctures, cosmetics, and food products, such as hemp seed, hemp milk, hemp protein powder, or hemp or CBD oil used in a variety of applications itself.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids are a group of over 80 chemical compounds found in the cannabis and hemp plants, as well as in the human body. The most well-known cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol), but there are many others that have been identified, such as CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin), among others. Each cannabinoid has a unique set of properties and effects, and they interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating various physiological and cognitive processes, such as mood, appetite, pain sensation, and immune function. Cannabinoids are being studied for their potential therapeutic benefits, and some have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties, among other effects.

What are terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds found in various plants, including cannabis/hemp, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. They are responsible for the distinct aromas and flavors associated with different plant species. In cannabis and hemp, terpenes are present alongside cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. They contribute to the overall sensory experience of consuming these plants and can also potentially have therapeutic effects. Different terpenes are associated with various effects, such as relaxation, upliftment, focus, or sedation. Some common terpenes found in cannabis/hemp include myrcene, limonene, pinene, linalool, and caryophyllene. It’s important to note that terpenes are generally recognized as safe for consumption.

What is crude extract oil or crude CBD oil?

Crude CBD oil is often called Rick Simpson oil because of an individual who used this form of the oil on himself to treat cancer along with other ailments. Crude extract oil is a dark brown, black, or dark green oil and contains the full constituents of the hemp plant. There are many different components in this extract ranging from CBD, many other cannabinoids including THC, chlorophyll, terpenes, natural minerals, fats, lipids, waxes, pigments, and many other phytochemical compounds. Some people want to use this material as the basis for their products due to the very natural form it is in. However, due to its strong flavor, smell, taste and other components such as THC, others want the extract material further refined into a distillate, which makes it more palatable.

What is the difference between a crude extract and a distillate?

A crude extract is a full-spectrum oil that contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds found in the original plant material. It is the first step in removing the components of the plant into a more user-friendly form. At this point, the crude extract includes most of the components that nature intended. The material is typically very viscous (like crystallized honey that needs to be heated before it will come out of the jar) and typically has a color of brown, black, or dark green. In this stage, the CBD content of the material ranges from 40-60%.

A distillate is a further refinement of a crude extract, in which some additional components of the crude extract are removed—these include chlorophylls (green plant matter), and other components that can impact the taste and feel of the material, resulting in a higher concentration of CBD relative to the crude. Distillation allows manufacturers to use a whipped film evaporation system to extract some compounds while leaving the desired ones, such as CBD for CBD. This process achieves a range of CBD and other cannabinoids with over 75% to 95% purity depending on the company and method used. Distillates are typically of the consistency of molasses and the color of an amber beer to a honey.

What is the difference between a distillate and an isolate?

Distillates and isolates are both more purified forms of crude extract oil, but there are significant differences between the two with respect to form and consistency, make-up, color, CBD potency, and THC potency. A distillate remains in an oil form (consistency of molasses), color of amber to golden honey, and includes many of the constituents of the crude extract oil, which have been reduced or removed (chlorophyll, waxes, lipids, pigments), and a potency of 75% to 95% CBD. Depending on the process, THC is measurable or non-detectable by most analytical labs. An isolate is a further refined and concentrated level of CBD potency (99% CBD) and in a crystallized powder form.

Distillate and isolates start with a crude extract oil, which is further refined by either a chemical form using a distillation method or a supercritical CO

In either scenario, materials are further processed by using a distillation process to remove impurities and other unwanted compounds from the cannabis plant, resulting in a concentrated form of CBD. Distillates typically are thick amber or golden yellow oils with a high cannabinoid content. They may also contain other compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and trace amounts of other cannabinoids. Distillates, such as PHCO

Isolates are purified forms of a single cannabinoid, usually THC or CBD, that have been extracted from the plant, usually with a flammable solvent and processed to remove all other compounds. Isolates are typically crystalline solids that are 99% pure CBD. Isolates are often used for their specific molecule. Some people believe the isolates are missing the entourage effect of most of the components of the hemp plant as it naturally was grown.

The main differences between distillates and isolates are the level of purity and the presence (or absence) of other compounds in the final product. Distillates contain a high concentration of cannabinoids and other compounds, while isolates are usually 99% pure THC or CBD and do not contain any other compounds.

What is CO2-derived distillate?

CO2-derived cannabinoid (CBD and others) extract and distillate is an ingredient material, which is extracted using supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) fluid in lieu of ethanol or hydrocarbons. The process—and the resulting material—is considered a cleaner, greener, and more environmentally friendly method to extract, and subsequently, further process the hemp material. The resulting crude oil and distillate material will not run the rise of having residual solvents and it typically retains some of the terpenes of the original plant material.

CO2 extraction involves using pressurized and heated carbon dioxide as a solvent to extract cannabinoids, terpenes, chlorophylls, and many of the other compounds from hemp. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless and odorless gas found in nature and is all around us—from the air we exhale to the fizz used in seltzer drinks. In its natural state, it is not a good solvent, but when moved to a supercritical state (the point between a liquid and a gas) it takes on the properties of a solvent material that allows certain components of a biomass material, such as hemp plant material, to dissolve in the supercritical CO2. The biomass material (milled hemp flowers, leave, and stems) is moved into a pressure vessel and the chamber is closed. Liquid CO2 is then pumped into the chamber; it is then put under pressure and increasing temperature, where it soaks the hemp biomass material and certain compounds (such as the cannabinoids, terpenes, and some of the chlorophyll, pigments, waxes and lipids, and other phytochemical compounds) dissolve and bond with the CO2. The CO2 is then pumped into a separation chamber where the pressure drops, and all the dissolved components drop out of the CO2 and get collected in the separator.

It is at this point where customers have different needs. Some customers want to use the material as a more natural solution for certain products.

Other customers want the crude to get further refined; if so, the supplier can then use one of several methods to further refine the material. There are different methods used at this point to remove unwanted elements, such as chlorophyll (which gives the crude material a dark green color and earthy flavor). Other customers want the chlorophyll and the waxes and lipids removed, and this can be done in several different methods as well.

One of the big differences between CO2 and alternative extraction methods is that CO2 is not a flammable solvent, so there are no residual solvents left behind in the crude, or ultimately, the distillate. The resulting crude extract is then subjected to either a distillation process—which refines and concentrates specific compounds while removing unwanted components—or further refinement, using CO2 to affect the same distillation (but it is done at a lower temperature and under pressure). The CO2-derived distillate is a highly concentrated product rich in CBD, and other cannabinoids including THC, terpenes, and beneficial compounds from hemp. It is commonly used in various hemp-derived products.

Click here to learn about the difference in Phasex’s PHCO2 version of a CO2-derived distillate.

Why is a CO2-derived full-spectrum distillate better than an isolate?

The decision of using a full-spectrum distillate is a choice the user has to make for themselves. Certain customers desire a CO2 distillate—because for them, it is generally considered better than an isolate because it contains a wider range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other essential oils that work together with CBD to create an entourage effect, which is believed by many to enhance the therapeutic benefits of CBD. While some sources suggest that full-spectrum distillate may be better than isolate for certain uses, others suggest the opposite. Ultimately, it is important to consider individual needs and preferences when choosing between full-spectrum distillate and isolate. Isolates come in a powder form and typically have no terpenes, which means no hemp smell.

Why is a CO2-derived broad-spectrum distillate better than an isolate?

Many find broad-spectrum CBD CO2-distillate preferable over CBD isolate because it contains an array of compounds found naturally in the hemp plant, while others maintain that CBD isolate is cannabidiol in its purest, most predictable form. It is important to note that both have their own set of benefits, and what is best for an individual depends on their specific needs.

The reasoning behind the CO2-distillate preference is that broad- and full-spectrum formulations, which both contain many naturally occurring cannabinoids in addition to CBD, offer a wider variety of potential benefits than isolates. This is, in part, due to what is called the entourage effect, which suggests that cannabinoids work better together than when isolated.

Some prefer CBD distillate over isolate due to its natural array of compounds; others chose it for the entourage effect the broad- or full-spectrum formulations have. Ultimately, the best choice depends on an individual’s specific needs.

Is a CO2-derived distillate better than an isolate?

Distillation is the final step for most processors in making an ingredient for sale to product manufacturers. These ingredient products can be further blended with other ingredients to make finished products by brand owners or co-manufacturers who make sellable end products. Additionally, the distillate can be further processed into a 99% isolate, via further chemical processing. CBD isolates are a highly processed materials and some consider these more desirable because they have no flavor. Others believe just the opposite and want a full- or broad-spectrum distillate material that has some other cannabinoids and can create an entourage affect when used for various desired applications.

Why is a CO2-derived distillate better than other forms of distillate?

Companies seek CO2 distillate for consumers who prefer CO2-extracted distillates over distillates manufactured using other methods principally because they eliminate the risk of residual solvents in the finished products, along with the fact that it is cleaner, and generally more environmentally friendly. Some companies and customers prefer CO2-derived CBD ingredient materials because they tend to believe they contain a more accurate representation of the whole-plant hemp extract, including terpene profile, cannabinoids, and flavonoids. Unlike other extraction methods that may rely on chemicals such as butane, CO2 extraction is a more natural, cleaner method. Consumers often prefer CO2-derived distillate over other forms of distillate because it retains more of the original flavor and aroma from terpenes than distillate.

What is the difference between broad- and full-spectrum CBD?

Broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD are two types of CBD extracts that contain slightly different compositions of cannabinoids and other plant compounds. The key difference lies in the presence or absence of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis.

Broad-spectrum CBD extracts retain multiple cannabinoids and terpenes but do not contain THC in quantities typically measurable by most analytical labs. They are preferred by individuals who want to minimize or avoid THC for personal or legal reasons while still benefiting from the potential synergistic effects of other cannabinoids and terpenes.

Full-spectrum CBD extracts contain a variety of cannabinoids, including THC, within legal limits which is less than 0.3% in the finished product. This type of CBD extract offers the potential benefits of multiple cannabinoids and terpenes, including the entourage effect. However, the presence of THC may have implications for drug testing or legal restrictions in some jurisdictions, so brands, manufacturers, and consumers need to be careful of the material they choose to use.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional and consider personal preferences when choosing between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products.

What is the entourage effect?

The entourage effect is a theory related to the potential synergistic interaction between various compounds found in hemp or cannabis, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and other plant compounds. The entourage effect theory posits that cannabis compounds or cannabinoids act synergistically with each other to enhance the overall effects of the plant, so when taken together produce a better effect than when taken alone. Given this theory, some people believe that full- and broad-spectrum CBD extracts will be more effective than isolates.

Full-spectrum CBD extracts contain all naturally occurring compounds, including THC within legal limits (below 0.3%). Broad spectrum distillates generally have the THC removed, or so low that it doesn’t show up on analytical tests, while retaining other cannabinoids and terpenes, allowing users to experience the benefits. Both types may provide enhanced benefits due to the entourage effect, where the compounds work together synergistically. Further research is needed to fully understand this effect. Note that distillates benefit from the entourage effect while isolates do not.

What is the value of the other minor cannabinoids in a high-percentage CBD distillate?

In a high-percentage CBD distillate, the presence of other minor cannabinoids adds value and potential benefits beyond CBD alone. Some examples of minor cannabinoids include CBG, CBC, CBN, CBT, and THCV. These cannabinoids have unique properties and potential therapeutic effects* Their presence in the distillate can contribute to the entourage effect, where the compounds work together synergistically to enhance each other’s effects. The specific value of these minor cannabinoids may vary depending on individual needs and preferences. Ongoing research aims to further understand their effects and benefits.

What is supercritical CO2 extraction vs. other methods?

Supercritical CO2 extraction is widely regarded as one of the most efficient and preferred methods of extracting hemp compounds, including cannabinoids such as CBD, from plant material. Below is a comparison between supercritical CO2 extraction and other common methods of hemp extraction.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction:
Process: Supercritical CO2 extraction involves using carbon dioxide in a supercritical state, where it exhibits properties of both a gas and a liquid. This state allows CO2 to effectively extract cannabinoids and other desired compounds from hemp plant material.

Efficiency: Supercritical CO2 extraction is known for its high efficiency in extracting a wide range of compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, while minimizing damage to delicate plant components.

Selectivity: This method can be adjusted to selectively extract specific compounds by varying temperature and pressure, providing control over the final product’s cannabinoid profile.

Solvent Residue: Supercritical CO2 extraction leaves little to no solvent residue in the final product, as CO2 evaporates completely.

Environmental Friendliness: CO2 used in extraction is a naturally occurring gas and does not contribute to environmental pollution. It can be recycled and reused, making it an environmentally friendly extraction method.

Other Extraction Methods
Mechanical extraction and solvent-based extraction are two methods used to extract compounds from plants or other organic materials.

Solvent-Based Extraction:
Methods such as ethanol or hydrocarbon extraction use solvents such as butane or propane and others to dissolve and extract compounds from hemp. While effective, they may leave residual solvents that require additional processing to remove. Ethanol extraction can also extract undesirable compounds, leading to more purification steps. Solvent-based extraction is efficient but requires careful solvent removal to avoid contamination.

Mechanical Extraction:
Mechanical methods involve physically separating oils or compounds from hemp plant material through techniques like pressing, grinding, or sieving. While simple and natural, they may not be as efficient in extracting a wide range of compounds as compared to solvent or CO2-based methods.

Each extraction method has its advantages and considerations, and the choice depends on factors such as plant material, desired product profile and application requirements, efficiency, safety, and environmental impact. Supercritical CO2 extraction is favored for its efficiency, selectivity, and minimal solvent residue, making it a preferred choice for high-quality hemp extracts.

How is supercritical CO2 extraction of hemp better than other forms of extraction for hemp?

Supercritical CO2 extraction for hemp is superior to other forms of extraction for the following reasons:

Safety: It eliminates the use of potentially harmful solvents, ensuring a safer end product.
Purity: It selectively targets desired compounds, resulting in a cleaner and more refined extract.
Quality and Potency: The gentle extraction process preserves the integrity, quality, and potency of hemp compounds.
Versatility: The extraction process can be customized to achieve specific cannabinoid profiles or ratios.
Environmental Friendliness: CO2 is a natural and non-toxic gas, minimizing environmental impact.