At this point in time, CBD has almost become a household topic. With more users and more people asking questions than ever, education on the topic is of paramount importance. The many misconceptions around CBD grow every day. This spread of misinformation is likely fueled by a number of factors. Currently, CBD companies are heavily regulated when marketing and selling their products, much of the information put out to the masses originate from either unreliable or misinformed sources, and there have been repeated governmental failure in issuing a clarification on the law. All of this, combined with the antiquated negative stigma surrounding the cannabis plant, has led to conflicting rumours and impossible-to-navigate information.

Arguably, those working in the CBD industry are some of the best-informed people surrounding this topic. This is largely due to the fact that if you want to run a successful business, you should probably know what you’re selling inside and out. These people, who have done their research, unfortunately, are unable to convey certain information due to overbearing rules set out by governing bodies. As mentioned in a previous blog post, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) released a guidance note in 2016. In this paper, they say that any products containing CBD must be licenced if they are sold for medicinal purposes. This means that without a medicinal licence, you cannot make any medicinal claims about your CBD products – even if a world-renowned scientist publishes a paper with direct evidence pointing towards any kind of health benefit, it would be a breach of regulations for a company to advertise those benefits. This puts any CBD salesperson in a rather sticky situation of hoping the customer has done their own research. It doesn’t matter if they’re selling whole flower, oils, edibles, etc; the same rules apply for all marketing and selling points. 

 

The Governments Spread of Misinformation 

 

This brings me nicely on to what information is allowed to be put out to the people. There is a lot of unreliable or misinformed articles available online, and it could be argued that the government has neglected its duty to intervene in these misleading claims. A very common misconception is the “<0.2% THC” regulation. This rule actually only applies to the agriculture sector, meaning it only applies when growing hemp, not when selling the final product. The amount of THC that should concern those trying to sell CBD/hemp-related products, is, in fact, 1mg total. In the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, it is stated that “no one component part of the product or preparation contains more than one milligram of the controlled drug”. If a company were selling predominantly CBD flower/bud, they shouldn’t have 0.15% THC per gram – this would equate to 1.5mg total THC, and therefore breach regulations. In the event larger quantities are sold, say an eighth of an ounce, the total THC per unit of sale would be 5.25mg – over 5x the legal limit. This rule applies across all products sold on the UK market. Full-spectrum oil may contain <0.2% THC per bottle, however in a 30ml bottle this could mean as much as 60mg total THC! This highlights the importance to manufacturers of not only being aware of the correct legislation but equally the maths employed during the formulation of products. 

Another area where a lot of people slip up or misunderstand the law is the suggestion that all products containing any trace amount of any controlled substance are outright illegal. This is a great example of the public being misinformed by the powers that be. This idea initially came from a statement issued by the Home Office. As such a high office, understandably many people would deem this a reliable source. Unfortunately, what was issued by the Home Office was merely an ‘opinion’, and currently has no backing from UK legislation. Until Parliament passes an act, the Home Secretary is free to go blue in the face issuing whichever opinion takes their fancy – it does not constitute law.

Essentially, the Home Office is recommending people be prosecuted for possession or distribution charges when a single molecule of a controlled substance is found. One of the core reasons for updating the 1971 Act was to avoid this very circumstance! It would be controversial at the very least to start prosecuting people in this manner when one considers the Home Office’s rich history of Class A drugs and drug paraphernalia being found by security within their main HQ. Police have never opened an investigation into any of these instances, and government officials are unable to comment as to why. I think it must be down to the fact that the police are so busy looking for molecules of THC, which poses a clear and significant risk to the public. This line of disjointed reasoning is reminiscent of the thought process of a crystal meth user… But that’s just my opinion.  

 

Our  Hopes For The Future

 

Getting back to the main topic, which is CBD. Not all of the information distributed around the country is bad news for CBD. One example of a press that would be welcomed by hemp business owners is an article on Bill Turnbull in the RadioTimes. Much like the RadioTimes itself, Bill Turnbull is a household name. In this article, they’re discussing his new documentary, Bill Turnbull: Staying Alive. In the documentary Bill uses illegal cannabis (something we can not and do not endorse) in a hope to deal with his diagnosis of prostate cancer. They go on to mention that Bill “has stopped using THC” although he “has gone on experimenting with CBD”. This is really positive because it shows that cannabis is not such a taboo topic anymore and is slowly becoming something we can openly discuss at home. 

It may not turn out to be the saviour as so many predict, but at least will allow for the appropriate research to be done – backed by the support of the people to draw the negative stigma away from cannabis. Maybe soon “the devil’s lettuce” will be seen as something more than a way for young adults to get high.

“We have something that’s been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes, only been illegal for about 100 years [it was prohibited in the UK in 1928]. And we need to start having conversations about how can we usefully get the best out of what could be very beneficial to us, without causing damage to other people. I’m not talking about recreational use, I’m simply talking about it for medicinal reasons,” – Bill Turnbull

Where do you think cannabis will go next? With correct business practice and enough discussion from people around the country, perhaps the bigger picture can begin to be painted.