In a study commissioned by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), PhytoVista Laboratories blind tested 30 products. Only 38% of the tested products contained the stated amount of CBD and 50% exceed the legal amount of controlled cannabinoids, such as THC.
The criteria that determine whether a CBD product is exempt from control are:
CBD Product Labelling
This means that, regardless of container size, no CBD product may contain more than 1mg of THC: a 10ml vial may only contain 1mg and a 25ml bottle may only contain 1mg.
Recently, hemp extracts and hemp-derived products were added to the EU’s Novel Foods Catalogue. However, no CBD products have yet to complete the pre-market safety assessment to be legally marketed in the EU.
The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has not issued a licence for CBD as medicine. This means that CBD products cannot be sold as medicine. Neither can CBD products claim any therapeutic effects.
Advocates of CBD oil say it can relieve chronic pain and inflammation, depression and insomnia, among other conditions. But others say its benefits are oversold and unproven, while many others are confused over its legal status.
According to the British Medical Journal (BMJ), high street products contain roughly 25mg CBD, compared to the 150-1,500mg/day that users are given in clinical trials, says ITV.
However, CBD is an exception and is completely legal in the UK, “provided it has been derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved”, or comes from outside the EU.
Cannabidiol has entered the mainstream, but effects are unclear
However, it is important to note that licences for CBD oil as a medicine have not been granted yet, and manufacturers cannot make claims about their alleged medical benefits.
This has resulted in a number of high-profile cases of parents taking their children out of the UK in order to access treatment.
What’s more, CBD “reduces the expression of proteins involved in creating new fat cells, and it boosts the number of mitochondria in your brown fat cells”, says Men’s Health. This could further increase their fat-stripping power, the scientists suggest.
In The Guardian, Mike Power writes: “There is now no denying the medicinal value of CBD and THC – not even by the British government, which for years maintained that lie even as it rubber-stamped the cultivation and export of the world’s largest medicinal cannabis crop. But the landmark decision in November 2018 to allow UK doctors to prescribe cannabis under extremely limited circumstances, inspired by the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, whose epilepsy is improved immeasurably by medicinal cannabis products containing both THC and CBD, has left many in a limbo: knowing or believing that cannabis offers a cure, yet remaining unable to access it.”
To understand CBD regulation in the UK we need to take a closer look at CBD – or cannabidiol – and its origins. The CBD in CBD oils on the UK market mainly comes from either ‘Industrial hemp’ – also known by its Latin name Cannabis sativa – or other strains of the Cannabis plant.
CBD is legal in the UK. But the picture is more complicated than that – here, we look at all the UK laws and regulations surrounding this remarkable compound.
What you will learn
Note: In August 2019 we updated our guidance on the limit of THC from “1 mg per pack” to “No THC (recommended limit of detection: 0.01%). The change in advice was made in order to provide a ‘best practice’ to businesses which takes into account the ‘exempt product’ laws, the corresponding Home Office guidance and the fact that many labs offering CBD testing services may not reliably detect 1 mg of THC. More information is provided below.
The Danish health authority released information about the potential change to the status in a statement:
However, the authorities did not find ‘a history of consumption’ of cannabinoids before May 15, 1997 and so, according to novel food regulation, a novel food application is required.