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Jersey Hemp
Writer and expert10 months ago
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Two of the UK’s major organisations for the cannabis industry have urged the government to consider a series of sweeping changes that they believe would help the country make the most of its burgeoning CBD market.

In a joint paper titled ‘Green Shoots: Sowing the seeds of the new UK cannabinoid market’, membership bodies The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis predict that the UK CBD market will be worth £690 million in 2021.

However, the report claims that this success is “taking place in a disparate and incoherent fashion”, and “by accident rather than design”, and sets out a list of 20 recommendations that it says could transform the UK’s “accidental consumer cannabis revolution” into something permanent “nurturing hundreds of new businesses, thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in exports”.

Among the recommendations are the formation of a dedicated cannabinoids regulator – a ‘National Cannabinoid Control Authority’ – built on expertise from several government departments and with a remit to reform regulations and enforce quality standards, as testosterone propionate well as a ‘centre of excellence’ for cannabinoid science in the UK, which would provide research and development resources for commercial and clinical science.

The report also proposes a series of government- and market-led ‘deep dives’ into the existing UK cannabinoid sector. These would aim to establish a detailed picture of the sector, look at the potential costs of amending restrictive rules on the cultivation of hemp and cannabis plants and consider how other international markets are regulated with a view to opening up export opportunities for UK producers.

Amendments to laws around cannabinoids are another part of the strategy laid out in the report, including the proposed exemption of compliant CBD products from UK drugs legislation, clarification of the legal parameters within which both medicinal cannabis and consumer CBD companies can operate and the establishing of new limits on THC levels in hemp strains and CBD products.

Read the full report and list of 20 recommendations

CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are examples of the numerous chemical compounds known as cannabinoids produced in cannabis plants. CBD is non-intoxicating and legal, while THC is psychotropic and a controlled substance.

Since removing all trace of THC from CBD products is impossible, the Home Office has established an allowable limit of THC in CBD products. However, unlike most of Europe and the US, this is based not on the percentage of THC in the product but on a blanket limit of 1mg per single container, applying to anything from a 10ml bottle of CBD oil to a large shipment of raw ingredients. This is seen by many as both impractical and unnecessarily strict.

Rules regarding THC within hemp plants themselves are similarly contentious. Varieties that can be cultivated in the UK may contain no more than 0.2% THC by dried weight. Among other things, this is seen as a barrier to the breeding of potentially competitive new UK-owned strains of hemp that could be more efficient in producing certain cannabinoids, such as CBD. At the same time, British farmers are currently banned from using the flowering parts of the plant, which contain the majority of those cannabinoids.

The report therefore proposes that the UK sets new thresholds for THC limits in both plants and CBD products, giving the example of regulations in Switzerland which allow the cultivation of plants with up to 1% THC and the sale of CBD products based on THC levels of 0.007 mg per kg. The ACI and CMC also suggest an interim limit of THC in CBD products of 0.03%, while “rigorous studies” are conducted to determine accurate safety limits. And the report asks the government to update its “outdated laws” prohibiting extraction of CBD from the flowering parts of plants.

Find out more about CBD oil

CBD is hugely popular on the UK wellness market. Earlier studies suggesting the CBD market had grown from £314m in 2019 to £526m in 2021 have now been superseded by the ACI and CMC’s new projections that put this year’s value at £690m.

CBD wellness products include CBD oils, edibles, vaping liquids, creams and cosmetics. While products themselves cannot make medical claims, initial research suggests CBD has therapeutic potential for a number of health conditions, including chronic pain, anxiety and sleeping problems. Meanwhile, the UK has been a pioneer in creating cannabinoid-based medications via the pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals, which developed Sativex – a combination of CBD and THC used to treat symptoms of multiple sclerosis – and Epidyolex, which can reduce seizures in patients with rare forms of epilepsy.

Until recently, CBD wellness products had existed largely free of regulation, in what the ACI and CMC’s report describes as a ‘grey market’. Earlier this year, the implementation of new Novel Foods regulations – which require CBD products to be backed by a dossier of technical information demonstrating their safety and constituents – made the UK the first country with a regulated over-the-counter CBD market. However, many argue that the rules, which were originally designed for pre-market products rather than those as established as CBD, are ill-fitting and could go much further – a conversation that the ACI and CMC hope will soon be taking place not just between those in the CBD industry but also in the corridors of Whitehall.

Main image by Alissa De Leva from Pixabay



The author of this article is not a medical expert and nothing in this article constitutes medical advice or gives rise to a medical practitioner/patient relationship. You should seek specialist medical advice where required. Never disregard professional medical advice or refrain from seeking it because of something you have read here.

Jersey Hemp
Writer and expert
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