Although a great many countries in Europe now have legal cannabis, access remains inconsistent across the continent. So if you’re looking into cannabis extraction, it’s vital to know what you can and can’t do with your extraction process. Lucky for you, we did the legwork so that you can find it all right here.
First, a Few Definitions
Just in case you’re new to the world of cannabis, here are a few definitions:
- Cannabis: a tall plant grown to be turned into hemp or marijuana, contains the cannabinoids THC and CBD
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” or intoxicating sensation
- Cannabidiol (CBD): a naturally occurring component of cannabis that does NOT produce any “high” or intoxicating sensations
- Concentrates: a potent consolidation of cannabinoids that are made by dissolving marijuana in its plant form into a solvent
- Cannabis extraction: also called “processing,” it’s the conversion of molecules in raw cannabis into usable form and usually includes removing the oils in the plant and collecting compounds such as THC, CBD, and terpenes
- Hemp: a part of the plant widely used for industrial purposes, not generally consumed for recreational or medicinal use
Usually, you use cannabis extraction equipment like solvents, hoses, chillers, and more if you’re going to engage in extraction to produce your own product. But, again, this is where it’s important to know the laws in your area (more on that below).
Uses for Cannabis
There are dozens upon dozens of uses for the various parts of the cannabis or hemp plant. Of course, people’s main use is smoking marijuana to achieve a “high” or inebriated state. However, cannabis can be used for a wide variety of things.
In addition to recreational use, marijuana is seeing a rise in medical use. Broad-spectrum CBD oil brands can be used to treat everything from pain and insomnia to seizures and side effects of cancer treatments. In addition, CBD oils offer health benefits without the psychoactive effect of marijuana products that contain THC. There are even CBD products for pets.
Hemp is a fibrous part of cannabis that sees wide usage in commercial and industrial settings. For example, you can turn hemp into:
- Twine, yarn, rope, or cables
- Artificial sponges
… and so much more. Hemp is a great renewable alternative to other less environmentally friendly materials (like cotton or polyester).
European Cannabis Extraction Laws
The laws governing cannabis across Europe (or any countries where it’s regulated) are vast and largely beyond the scope of this piece. However, if you’re interested in cannabis extraction, there are a few key laws to be aware of:
- National rules on hemp, CBD, and CBD products vary significantly.
- In most EU Member States, the cultivation of hemp with 0.2% or less THC is legal.
- Domestic extraction and production of CBD are extremely regulated.
- CBD oil is not considered a narcotic and, as such, can move between the Member States.
For example, if you live in the Netherlands, you’re legally allowed to grow industrial hemp for its seeds and fiber, but harvesting them for CBD extracts is illegal. In Sweden, all hemp-derived products are considered narcotics regardless of THC level.
This patchwork approach to the laws can create a lot of uncertainty. Therefore, it’s vital to check your local and national laws before attempting to extract cannabis.
US Cannabis Extraction Laws
In contrast with Europe, the US has its own cannabis extraction laws. To start with, any cannabis with over 0.3% THC is considered Federally illegal. So if you’re planning to extract cannabis into THC products higher than that percentage, you’re out of luck in the US.
That said, there are plenty of ways to extract and sell cannabis legally (depending on your state). For example, a dispensary near Massachusetts offers concentrates, vapes, topicals, and edibles. All these forms of marijuana will get you the same inebriated effect.
CBD and hemp products have laws that vary from state to state. Many of these laws have more to do with how you extract your cannabis rather than what final form it takes.
For example, three common extraction methods are CO2, hydrocarbon, and non-hydrocarbon. CO2 involves pressurizing carbon dioxide past its critical point, then using it to pull your desired compounds out of the cannabis plant.
Hydrocarbon is even more common and uses solvents like butane, propane, or hexane. Non-hydrocarbon uses ethanol, vegetable oils, animal fats, or ice water.
As you can imagine, each of these extraction methods will utilize vastly different safety concerns, allowable quantities, and other considerations to meet code.
In addition to choosing your extraction equipment with care, make sure to check your local and state laws if you’re in the US before starting your cannabis journey.