18th March 2021
By Emily Ledger
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The Association for the Cannabinoids Industry (ACI) and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) have released a detailed safety review report on THC. Included are recommendations and suggestions on further research and policy in the sector. 

The review paper, Health Guidance Levels for THC in CBD Products: Safety Assessment & Regulatory Recommendations, was put together by experts from the ACI – a membership organisation for the UK CBD industry, and the CMC – membership and research body for the UK medical cannabis sector.

The popularity of CBD as a wellness product has continued to grow in the UK in recent years. At the same time, there have been increased calls for improved regulation in the sector.

Whilst CBD itself is not a controlled substance and is, therefore, completely legal in the UK. CBD products can contain at least 12 potential controlled contaminants, including various tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds.

Furthermore, current guidance on the control status of hemp, CBD, and other cannabinoids have been repeatedly criticised as being confusing to both consumers and those working in the industry.

Recommended THC Safety Limit

For example, the Home Office interpretation of this guidance presumes that all CBD products are controlled, even when no controlled contaminants are detectable. The ACI and CMC claim in a press release that this presumption is “incompatible with scientific convention and is likely to be incompatible with case law.”

To address the UK’s “regulatory anomalies”, the bodies have recommended a safety limit of 0.03% THC or 21 μg per day. This recommendation, and others included in the report, has been submitted to both the Home Office and the Food Safety Association.

Maximum levels of controlled cannabinoids have been set in most other European countries for products developed for consumer use. These limits range from 0.001 mg/kg (EU (EFSA) and Germany) to 0.007 mg/kg THC in consumer products (Switzerland and Croatia), as well as THC limits in CBD end products (ranging from 0.05% in the Netherlands to <3% in Guernsey).

In a press release, Dr Parveen Bhatarah, Regulatory and Compliance Associate, ACI and CMC, stated:

“CBD is not a controlled drug but any plant-derived CBD has potential to contain controlled cannabinoids. However, the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 for CBD products demands that it contains no more than a defined trace percentage of controlled cannabinoids as an impurity.

“This paper has taken into account the analytical challenges, testing methodology challenges and existing scientific evidence base data to propose the safe limit for controlled cannabinoids.

“This approach can overcome the challenges the CBD industry is currently facing which are important for the sustainability of the industry. Meanwhile, the ACI team is generating further evidence-based data on the safety of CBD-based consumer products to ensure the UK’s CBD industry is providing safe CBD to consumers.”

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