Like most other Western nations, the United Kingdom is deep in the midst of a CBD craze. Last year, the UK Home Office began the slow process of approving medical cannabis products for legal sale, but unapproved CBD oils and infused products have been popping up in stores across the country in vastly growing numbers.
A new report by the Centre for Medical Cannabis (CMC) has found that while more and more UK residents are trying CBD products every day, many of these products are inaccurately labeled or contain contaminants like heavy metals. The report states that around 6 million UK adults have used CBD, and 11 percent of the country's entire population had used some form of CBD product within the past year.
In order to test the quality of these popular products, the CMC purchased 30 assorted CBD products from well-known retailers and had them tested at a UK lab. Out of these 30 products, only 38 percent actually contained the amount of CBD that was displayed on the label. Another 38 percent actually had less than half of the CBD advertised on the label. One product, which sold for £90 ($113) a bottle, actually had no cannabinoids in it at all.
More worryingly, the report found a number of other substances within these products. Seven of the products contained solvents and heavy metals, although the amounts fell within current UK safety guidelines for pharmaceutical products. One product contained 3.8 percent ethanol, which actually qualifies it as an alcoholic beverage. And almost half of all the samples contained more THC or CBN than is legally allowed in the country.
The CMC also commissioned an independent market research agency to study how the CBD sector has been growing. This report found that the current UK CBD market is actually 3 to 6 times larger than previous estimates concluded, with 1.3 million consumers spending an estimated £300M ($375 million) a year on these products – more than UK residents spend on Vitamin D and C combined.
To balance the growing popularity of these products with necessary safety precautions, the report has outlined three “big asks” for “every player in this sector.” The report asks government officials to clarify and revise the country's medical cannabis laws, support domestic CBD production, and devise regulations to ensure that these products are safe for consumption. CBD producers are asked to “be socially responsible,” defining their own quality standards and establishing self-regulation guidelines.
The CMC also asks the UK medical community to take CBD seriously, support new research into this medicine, and prepare to prescribe these new medicines as they become available. The report also asks government regulators to clarify their rules, educate consumers and industry professionals, and to focus their enforcement efforts on priority harms.