CBD - What do regulations say?

Jan 30, 2020

CBD stopper bottle

As CBD is often hailed as a miracle cure for many issues, knowing what the regulations are around it and how they can affect the final product is important. When buying something like CBD oil or CBD infused drinks, you want to know what standards it will meet, but also you might want to know how the UK product differs from that around the world. I know from my experience with Kolibri that taking these regulations into account can steer the direction a product goes immensely.

In this article, I look into the regulations surrounding CBD and what they mean.

CBD vs. THC – What’s the difference?

One of the regulations that is most important, especially in the UK, is that concerning the substance THC. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is another of the 113 chemicals (known as cannabinoids) that make up cannabis. It is the principal psychoactive ingredient in the plant and is what makes users feel ‘high’. THC is illegal in the UK, and thus, regulations surrounding this can often have a knock-on effect on CBD production.

Differences between CBD and THC table

On paper, CBD is the preferred substance to be extracted from cannabis however, many people argue that THC also has its own benefits. In other countries where cannabis is legalised, people often find that blending both CBD and THC in specific proportions can have the best effect on their ailment.

Currently, THC is banned in the UK and who knows, we may see a law change in the future but for now this regulation is one that is probably affecting the production and use of CBD the most, as the two really do go hand in hand.

Is CBD a Food supplement?

Although many are holding CBD in such high regard for its supposed medicinal properties, it is currently against UK regulations to make any health claims about the product or advertise it as a form of medicine.

The labelling of CBD as a food supplement is something that confuses many people, especially those who are new to cannabidiol. With so many people discussing it as a form of medicine that helps with problems starting from anxiety to arthritis and everything in between, seeing none of this mentioned on the bottle can be quite jarring.

However, CBD is currently classed by law as a ‘novel food’, which means a food that had not been consumed to a significant degree before 15th May 1997. One of the regulations surrounding novel foods is that they are not to be ‘misleading to consumers’.

As the conversation around CBD is now bigger than ever, I wonder whether we’ll see a change in the future, once proper researching is done, that allows producers to highlight the health claims thousands have made.

Growing hemp in the UK

CBD is traditionally extracted from the hemp strain of the cannabis plant rather than the marijuana plant which means growing it in the UK is legal. As hemp only contains trace amounts of THC, it is permitted to grow within the UK with a license. Marijuana does also include CBD, but as it has a higher level of THC, this cannot be legally grown in the UK.

Even when applying for a hemp growing license in the UK, the Home Office (who issue the license) may impose restrictions on where the crop can be planted. Although something that is grown around the UK, it still feels as though it’s not easy to start growing – new licenses will generally cost about £580!

With these regulations and many more surrounding CBD, hemp and related products, it’s easy to see why the market hasn’t taken off quite as quickly as consumers would like meaning prices stay high. I expect, in years to come, especially if parliament reassess their stance on cannabis as a whole, we will see hemp farming gaining some traction in the UK and product prices coming down.

And, if parliament were to reassess how CBD can be labelled, I’m sure we will only hear of more people falling for its restorative and healing powers, which will go a long way towards driving the industry in the right direction.

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