British struggles to manage booming CBD companies


Daniel Bettridge December 13, 2019

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CBD is one of the UK's fastest growing wellness supplements, touted as a remedy for epilepsy and anxiety.

According to a study commissioned by the Center for Medical Cannabis (CMC), the market for the popular cannabinoid is expected to exceed GBP 1 billion by 2025, spanning the other UK herbal supplement markets together.

One night sensation

The growth was meteoric for something that consumers had hardly heard of five years ago. But CBD, also known as cannabidiol, peaked in November this year when the National Health Service (NHS) first approved the use of two CBD-based drugs. This was a milestone in Britain's stance on cannabis.

This is undoubtedly good news for those who sell CBD to the masses, but the explosive growth of the sector is cause for concern among experts. In June of this year, the CMC in the UK carried out the first large-scale tests of CBD-based products, which showed some worrying results.

According to the report, 38% of the 30 products available in high street stores (also known as main street retailers) were within 10% of the advertised CBD content, while another 38% had less than 50% of the advertised products , One product even contained 0% CBD.

Even more worrying was the fact that almost half (45%) of the products contained measurable amounts of THC, which is technically illegal in the UK, while others contained potentially harmful chemicals in amounts that exceeded current food safety standards.

"Despite its importance and therapeutic potential and the level of British consumers' appetite for cannabidiol … we are a step away from the type of CBD sector we need," concluded the report.

“British law is ambiguous, outdated and fragmented. Quality is undefined, product composition is not guaranteed, and bad marketing practices are all too common. British consumers are subsequently disappointed. "

Growing need for regulation

While recognizing the need for stricter legislation, the CMC report also advocated self-regulation by manufacturers.

“CBD and cannabis-based drug companies know that the UK market is maturing and is no longer as accessible as it used to be. UK customers are now very aware of who they are buying their CBD from, and manufacturers are keen to regulate themselves accordingly, ”said CMC Medical Director, Dr. Daniel Couch, Leafly via email.

“Although there is a growing number of analytical methods for testing cannabinoids and other compounds in these products, only a few have been validated according to internationally recognized guidelines. In addition, standardized methods still have to be developed for use in different manufacturing stages as well as for different processing and refinement stages. The result is that products can show different results depending on who performs the tests because different test methods are used in different laboratories. This can lead companies to look for cheap test results that don't really reflect the content of the products. "

For this reason, the CMC coordinates with researchers and manufacturers the development of a strict standardization process for CBD products.

This is a step that not only strengthens consumer confidence, but also helps the industry comply with the forthcoming novel food legislation that will enter into force across the European Union in 2020 and the CBD industry are expected to have a significant impact.

Lewis Olden from leading CBD oil producer Canna Cares is cautious.

“I don't think self-regulation is the way forward. Although many companies regulate themselves to a reasonable degree, there will always be bad actors who cut corners and lie about the quality and content of their products, ”he says.

“A sensible regulation of the CBD market that ensures that all products approved for distribution are safe and of the highest standard means that cannabis perception around the world will improve dramatically and ultimately full recreational legalization will take place earlier , If the market is not properly regulated, the cannabis stigma will remain and it will be more difficult to legislate through the government, as there will be examples of dangerous and illegal practices that justify upholding existing law. "

Adaptation to customer demand

Ultimately, Couch and Olden agree that customers themselves will set better standards, which will ultimately lead to better products.

"Consumers will be the greatest beneficiaries of regulation," says Olden. "The quality of the products will improve, people can use CBD if they know exactly what they are taking, and it is likely that the cost of CBD will decrease in the long run."

"Customers are now demanding a transparent product, and that has to start with the producers," added Couch. “There is a lot at stake: if such regulated products are offered, the market will continue to grow. if not, we can see stagnation. "

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As an author, publisher and best-selling author from Amazon, Daniel has written for publications such as The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Independent, BBC, The Times, MSN and Yahoo.

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