CBD Terminology & Glossary

CBD - Cannabidiol has a formula of C21H30O2 and has the same numbers of and types of atoms as THC, but in a different structure. It is known to have no psychoactive effects and does not give a ‘high’ as does THC. 

CBD is legal in all 50 states due to the 2018 Farm Bill, officially known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which legalized the agricultural production of industrial hemp, previously a prohibited crop since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

CBD can be extracted from hemp or cannabis via several methods

  • Supercritical CO2 - which uses carbon dioxide under very specific physical chemistry conditions enabling extractive properties. 
  • Ethanol - which is a solvent that dissolves CBD and other cannabinoids from plant biomass.
  • Other solvents can be used such as hexane, which is a hydrocarbon component of gasoline, but result in undesirable contaminants in the finished extract. 

CBD extract grades are confusing as there are several, defined as follows:

  • Raw Distillate - contains everything from the hemp plant that can be extracted, including waxes, resins and other fat soluble biochemicals unrelated to CBD that can make it very difficult to formulate due to solubility problems. 
  • Full Spectrum - contains the full spectrum of C21H30O2 isomers, including THC, in order for this to be used legally in commerce without additional regulatory requirements, it must have a THC content of less than 0.3%. It is not uncommon for full spectrum distillate to have higher than the limit of THC, however.  
  • THC-Free Broad Spectrum - has been further purified generally over a silica column which removes the THC to undetectable levels as well as some of the other C21H30O2 biochemicals which are believed to have a variety of beneficial effects for certain individuals and use profiles.  
  • Isolate - pure CBD, free of related terpenes and CBD isomers

Other terms related to CBD production

Winterization - the process whereby CBD oil is dissolved in a solvent, preferably ethanol, and chilled to subzero temperatures. This causes the less soluble waxes, resins and undesirable biochemicals to crystallize, making them easier to remove from the extract by simple filtration. Raw distillate may be winterized prior to further purification via affinity or size exclusion column methods. 

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