What’s the difference between cannabis oil and CBD oil?

The terms cannabis oil and CBD oil are often used interchangeably, which is wrong because they refer to two different products. To avoid confusion it’s important to use the correct name.

In the world of medicinal cannabis, actually, three types of oil are distinguished:

  • CBD (cannabidiol) oil
  • Cannabis oil with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • Medicinal cannabis concentrates with extra THC and CBD

These oils are very different from each other. We’ll explain the differences below.  

CBD oil

CBD oil is made from the resin of industrial hemp fibre plants. The THC content is very low, and for the final product it is ensured that it remains below the permitted limit. In the UK this is 0,2%, in the Netherlands 0.05%. In principle, you can’t stoned or high from these minute amounts of THC. ‘Recreational’ usage of CBD oil that seeks a psychoactive effect is, therefore, not an issue.

The CBD content is indicated on the package, which is usually between 3 – 20%. There is pure CBD oil and full spectrum oil. In the latter, all originally present cannabinoids as well as essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins, chlorophyll, terpenes, flavonoids and fibers are preserved.

This oil can be used for many health complaints and has a relaxing effect in higher doses. Categorisable as a health supplement and therefore safe to use on a daily basis, also by children and pets. Outside of the UK, it’s legally available in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and a handful of other states.

CBD oil summarized:

  • High CBD content
  • Low THC content (typically >0.2%)
  • No psychoactive effect
  • It consists predominantly of hemp fibre oil: hemp
  • Suitable for children
  • Suitable for animals
  • Health supplement
  • Medicinal use
  • Free dosage
  • Legally sold in the UK

Cannabis oil (THC oil)

This is oil made from cannabis sativa’s flower buds, which contains both THC and CBD, and all other cannabinoids according to the natural composition of the plant. The exact amount of each substance depends on which strain has been used. In proportion, it contains far more THC than CBD, making it a more potent as a painkiller and for various other medical conditions, for example.

  • THC content depends on the type of plant.
  • CBD is also present.
  • Depending on the dosage and the plant used, you may experience a ‘stoned’ or ‘high’ feeling
  • It is not legal in Europe, but in some countries available as a prescription drug
  • Used for medical complaints where CBD oil does not offer sufficient relief.

THC oil summarized:

  • High THC content
  • Psychoactive effect
  • Comes from the cannabis sativa plant
  • Also used for recreational purposes
  • Precise dosing is important
  • Medicinal use
  • When used for pets, supervise carefully
  • Illegal
  • Available on doctor’s prescription in some countries

THC oil especially for cancer patients (Rick Simpson Oil)

Rick Simpson, a US cannabis pioneer, has developed a method to obtain a very potent, medicinal oil. This is an oil with a powerful medicinal effect due to its very high THC content, often around 50 – 90%. The CBD content is also high, easily around 10 – 15%. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a very different product from CBD oil or even cannabis oil. It is a very potent cannabis concentrate that should be used with caution. It is not legally available or manufacturable in Europe. Rick Simpson has, however, made his production method public so that everyone who benefits can work for themselves.

According to Simpson, it is important for cancer patients to ingest as much active substance, THC, as possible. With a constant high as a result, this is (mildly speaking) a bit impractical. CBD has the opposite effect and therefore additional CBD has been added.

Dutch cannabis expert Wernard Bruining emphasizes that cannabis does not work for everyone, but nonetheless it’s better than the regular pharmaceutical alternatives. Side effects are fewer, and it makes pain more bearable.

For more information visit Rick Simpson’s website:  http://phoenixtears.ca/

THC oil or RSO summarized:

  • High to very high THC content
  • High CBD content
  • Psychoactive effect
  • Comes from the cannabis sativa plant
  • Medicinal use
  • Precise dosing is very important
  • Not legally available


These three types of oil are not interchangeable at all. We recommend starting with CBD oil, for many people this helps well with their complaints and then it is not necessary to experiment with more expensive, illegal oil. THC containing oil should only be used after consultation with an expert. 


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