Concerns raised in the UK regarding cannabis oil products containing illicit chemicals. Pharmacists have been recommended to check the safety of their cannabis oil-based products.
With the continuously rising market for cannabis-derived products, there have been concerns that some of the products might be mislabeled and contain higher concentration levels of illegal chemicals such as THC.
Tetrahydro cannabinoid, or popularly known as THC, is the psychoactive substance found in marijuana plants that is responsible for causing the high in users. THC offers a euphoria-like feeling and tends to produce hallucinations. Extended use of potent THC products can lead to permanent mental health disorders.
On the other hand, legal products should ideally contain Cannabidiol, widely popular as CBD. It is a non-psychoactive and anti-inflammatory substance which does not produce any hallucinations like THC. In fact, CBD is touted for its medical benefits such as reducing stress, insomnia, depression, acute illness, chronic pain, inflammation, and muscle injuries.
CBD is also extensively used in alleviating the symptoms of life-threatening diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Tourette and even cancer. While there’s little research that backs up these medicinal claims of CBD, there are users all across the countries who have reported benefits after using CBD.
But as CBD became more popular, companies started jumping on the CBD bandwagon producing products that are not legit or authorized. Non-medicinal legal CBD products are widely available at many high street retailers, but they are classified as food supplements, rather than medicinal products as they should not contain THC.
Despite stringent restrictions on marketing of CBD products, companies promote their CBD based products with hefty medicinal claims that range from treating stress to muscle pain to cancer.
A research was conducted earlier this year, where 30 products across the UK containing CBD were analyzed to check their contents and about two-third contained less than 90% of the claimed CBD on their labels.
Over 45% of products had measurable levels of THC, making them illegal products in the UK. the report by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis and UK-based laboratory PhytoVista also revealed that a product that sells for £90 does not contain CBD at all.
How much research is there to support the medicinal claims of CBD?
Not much. Partly because the US is reluctant to promote research on cannabis. However, studies have shown that it is a potent substance that can be used to control forms of epilepsy.
CBD is most commonly available in the form of an oil that can be mixed with food and drinks. A bottle of CBD oil as small as 10ml claiming to contain 5% CBD costs about £25, but some of the products like chocolates, gummies, cake, tea, drinks come infused with CBD already.
The National Pharmacy Association has requested the Home Office to clarify and update its guidelines on what CBD products can and cannot be sold over the counter to control the unregulated cannabis-products market.
Many pharmacies are selling CBD products and they are advised to consider whether to stock CBD products is in the best interests of their patients and legal for them or not., says Jasmine Shah.
Shah is the Head of Advice and Support Services at the National Pharmacy Association. She further added that in the case of CBD products, pharmacists should comply with the existing Home Office guidance. Shah agreed that the guidelines are difficult to interpret but it is important that pharmacists rely on it as of now.
They would welcome concise and authoritative guidance which makes it easier for health care professionals, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to make better and informed choices, keeping everyone safe from harm and on the right side of the law, said Shah.
Instead of asking directly for CBD products, consumers should discuss with their pharmacists about their problems and what’s concerning them. The pharmacists might then be able to help you by supplying a suitable medicinal product or give an assurance on what treatment might help you.
The Food Standards Agency governs CBD products. The agency told the BBC that they expect companies to abide by the regulations which include submitting safety information about their products.
The FSA is considering that the best way to ensure the safety of CBD related products is towards compliance. However, in the US, authorities have been seizing products from stores that do not meet the criteria set by the federal government or the FDA.
Amy Abernethy, the FDA’s principal deputy commissioner, said they remain concerned about people trusting CBD products without much scientific research to back it up. Also, many products in the market are illegal and haven’t been properly evaluated by the FDA. the agency further said they do not conclude that CBD is generally safe for consumption.