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Are CBD oils being mislabelled in the UK?

fake cbd oil

Believe it or not a UK study found that approximately 60% of CBD oil product found in the UK are mislabelled. The finding came about after a similar study found similar findings in the US.

This fascinating study found that 38% of the tested products were within a 10% accuracy of their claimed CBD content. However another startling find was that 50% oil products tested had more than the legal quantities of certain cannabinoids, THC in particular.

As of today the UK CBD sector is valued at around £450 million per year and is projected to exceed £1.7 billion within five years. To put this into perspective, CBD will be a bigger market that vitamin C and D put together!

With so much attention and demand on the CBD market, it gives rise to the question, how are such inaccurately labelled products allowed to be sold?

The full study report results

The CBD study was conducted in 2019 by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) where 30 CBD oil were tested from online retail and leading high street shops.

The experiment was to determine the quality of the products being offered on the UK market and to test the cannabinoid profile of the oils.

The results of this study show a large variance in the quality and adherence to legally allowed cannabis profiles:

Inaccurate CBD content than what advertised

Out of the 30 CBD oil 8 had more than the stated amount of CBD, 38% had less than half of stated amount and one product did not have any CBD. Overall 60% of the tested oil did not have the advertised amount of content.

The amount of controlled substances above legal limits

THC and CBN are both controlled substances, with 45% of the products having concentrations above the legal limits.

The presence of heavy metals and solvents

Seven of the samples showed to contain a solvent and one showed heavy metal presence above the permitted safety limit. One of the products also contained enough solvent to be classified as an alcohol!

What is the reason for the lack of quality?

No regulations at the moment

  1. Currently there is no law that enforces CBD products must be labelled accurately.
  2. Only CBD as an ingredient needs to be listed, manufacturer details and a list of ingredients.
  3. There is no regulation around a requirement for testing or a testing standard for the products.

No end-to-end UK CBD supply chain

Currently the law does not permit the growing of hemp for the purposes of producing CBD and therefore must be imported from outside.

This puts the UK CBD market at a disadvantage for growers to not be at the forefront of ensuring the best product are produced in the country.

A disconnect between cultivation and manufacturing leads to a loss of control in maintaining quality transparently end-to-end.

Unethical manufacturing processes

  1. The use of alternative ingredient in substitute of CBD such as infused-olive oil.
  2. Using cheaper extraction processes such as solvent extraction as opposed to CO2 extraction which does not leave behind any contaminants,.

The requirement and importance of CBD product testing

To ensure product safety

Whilst CBD is known for its health benefits particularly in pain and anxiety reduction, however excess levels can cause an increase in side effects such as headaches.

Additionally, the presence of heavy metals and solvents will cause health damage negating the overall benefits that the products are intended to be used for.

Enhance the consumers confidence

Studies by CMC study, Dynata and YouGov found that consumers rank quality and purity the highest during their buying decision.

This is achieved through clearly labelled products and dosing guidance.

The above combined with consumers favouring British products has more weight than price alone.

To help manufacturers/sellers stay legal

The current allowed THC content in CBD products is 0.02%, knowing what is in the product through testing will help avoid the possibility of prosecution.

To give manufacturers an edge in the market

Through ensuring products are created to the highest standards with quality checked with the correct testing methods, manufacturers can then:

  1. Accurately label their products.
  2. Give the best guidance on dosing which will allow consumers to accurately tailor dosing.
  3. To use testing and test certificates as a selling-point of high quality products.