Cannabis is a hot topic right now. While it has been legalised for medicinal use in the UK it is still a Class B drug, making it illegal to possess, grow or sell.

Cannabidiol, on the other hand, is an emerging major player on the consumer products market. Extracted from the Cannabis plant, cannabidiol – or CBD for short – is legal because of its non-psychoactive properties. However, there is a real risk that not all the CBD products on the market pass the bar for regulation THC levels.

To ensure the market is rid of the psychoactive substance, CBD laws in the UK must be updated and made fit for purpose.

Before we go into that though…

What is CBD?

In every strain of cannabis, there are two main chemical compounds that determine the properties of the drug – CBD and THC. The latter is the one responsible for the high and euphoria that comes with cannabis use while the former brings the relaxing feeling.

Over the past couple of years, extensive research has been done into the subject of CBD. After extensive hours of research and lab work, it is evident that this compound is not just an inert part of the cannabis plant. In fact, it holds more medical potential than we have probably been giving it credit for.

The Many Health Benefits Of CBD

The primary areas of application of CBD include:

1 Relaxation

Extensive research conducted at the University of Sao Paulo brought researchers to the conclusion that CBD can combat anxiety. This was most evident when the anxiety was from social causes. This is in addition to the drug being useful in the treatment of a wide range of mental disorders.

2 Treatment of Cancer

Different research studies into this area also suggest that CBD can play an important role in the treatment of cancer. This boils down to the anti-tumour effects which the drug exhibits, helping to slow down the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

3 Pain Relief

This is the most celebrated use of the drug. It is believed that the drug interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation in the body.

Studies first confirmed that CBD has these effects on rats and mice. By 2008, successful clinical trials had been carried out, with patients experiencing reduced pain while suffering no side effects in the process.

Do CBD oils on the market contain legal levels of THC?

Even though CBD oils are thought of as containing no THC, there is the real possibility that, in fact, they do. There are many reasons. Primarily, manufactures have very few set standards to follow: they are not legally obliged to test the CBD they market. Even if they do test, they may use low cost testing that is not sensitive enough to detect and quantify the THC level.

What compounds the issue is that there is a distinct lack of clarity on the regulations of CBD and many confuse the legal limits of THC in finished products. Then there is the question of enforcement. How can the government analyses all CBD products imported and on sale?

There are some rare cases where authorities have taken action. A shop owner in Plymouth who woke up to a police raid on suspicion of him peddling illegal amounts of THC in his CBD products. But these cases are few and far between, not enough to pose a real threat to manufacturers and vendors who are cutting corners.

While the government need to outline clear guidelines on the regulations and THC levels, manufacturers should ensure high quality THC testing and other control measures are in place as standard.

What is THC testing?

As the name implies, THC testing involves the sending of CBD oil samples to specialist labs to determine if their THC levels are within legal limits. It is expected that no bottle of CBD oil should contain more than 1mg of THC. Any substance that fails such a test should not even make the market.

There are two types of THC testing: accredited and unaccredited. The former is the type of testing the police force undertakes when verifying THC levels in seized products. It is expensive but highly accurate. Unaccredited is typically less accurate and has a lower price tag.

Conclusion

CBD has huge potential as a business but managed wrongly, it could fast turn out to be a thorn in the side of producers and vendors alike. And while the government get their act together on new CBD regulations, it is in manufacturers best interests to ensure they include  CBD testing as part of their quality control measures. Only then can this remarkable product reach its full potential.

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