The UK’s CBD craze has hit an all-time high, and with CMC estimating the market worth reaching £1bn by 2025, it shows no sign of slowing. The rapid growth reflects the incredible potential of CBD, but anything with this much buzz has obvious potential for exploitation.
The main issue the CBD market faces is its lack of research and regulation. While individual products often go through rigorous testing, the market as a whole currently has few restrictions, and those that are in place are often hard to police. UK law states that CBD products must contain no more than 0.2% THC (the active ingredient in cannabis which causes the ‘high’), but even this has been difficult to control.
The first step in bringing some order has been to assess the extent of the problem. To do this, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), conducted the UK’s largest third-party blind testing exercise in order to “verify the range of quality of those CBD products being sold today, and to determine where the areas of concern might be”. The results were troubling to say the least. The main issue they found was with the misinformation on the products’ labels. Only 38% of the products were within 10% of the advertised CBD content, a further 38% had less than 50% of what was labelled, and one 30ml product had no CBD content at all, despite retailing for £90 at a high street pharmacy. These inconsistencies are part of the reason CBD is often mistrusted, or labelled as ‘snake-oil’, dampening its reputation in general. It also means that many people who could be benefitting from legitimate products are taken advantage of.
While this study was primarily designed for the analysis of the market as it stands now, it also addresses the challenge ahead, and what can be done about it. Two key areas they acknowledge is the education of consumers, rooting out bad practice and the importance of clinical trials. They also state that the issues are not ones that the government alone can address, but ones that need to be tackled within the industry itself:
“The industry has an obligation to behave responsibly around how it uses and promotes CBD - otherwise there is a risk that negative associations will accrue to CBD and have a wider effect on public perceptions of cannabis and its potential as a therapeutic treatment.”
But what does this mean for the average consumer, and how can you avoid getting swindled?
Well, the main issue is making sure you’re buying from a reputable source, and although research an often be tedious, it’s needed when labels alone clearly aren’t enough. The more information there is available about what you’re buying, the better. As is always the case with things taken for medicinal purposes, it’s important to discuss the options for products and doses with someone who knows what they’re talking about. With something as new and as promising as CBD, there will always be large potential for both good and bad, but there is also enough out there to find what works for you from places that can be trusted.
The full CMC report summary can be downloaded and read here: https://www.thecmcuk.org/policyreports for those wanting to know more.