February 2022

Government Chemist contribution recognised as ACMD publishes advice on consumer CBD products

The Government Chemist function, hosted at LGC, has contributed to advice on consumer cannabidiol (CBD) products from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L) along with many other cannabinoids that may either exhibit psychoactive or non-psychoactive properties.

CBD plant extract or plant isolates have gained salience as an ingredient in food supplements and in some cosmetic products, and there has been a proliferation of such products, available online and on the high street.

As an isolated substance, CBD is not a controlled drug. However, the process of extracting or isolating CBD from the cannabis plant may co-extract the other cannabinoids and products.

CBD edible products are now regulated as novel foods. They must also be compositionally safe and correctly labelled. Wide variation in compliance with CBD label claims has been recorded and the presence of controlled cannabinoids is a known risk.

In addition, the ‘controlled drug’ content ‘threshold’ of one milligram in a product or preparation referred to in the Home Office Drug Licensing Factsheet - Cannabis, CBD and other cannabinoids was presenting difficulties in interpretation and analysis.

To address these issues, the Government Chemist has been undertaking a number of CBD-related projects.

Dr Julian Braybrook, UK Government Chemist, said, “I am pleased that we were able to feed the outputs of our on-going CBD studies into the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to help them specify which cannabinoids should be controlled and unavoidable trace levels for each of these within consumer CBD products. I am especially pleased to note recognition of the team’s interlaboratory study in the ACMD report for “providing the main evidence for the practical capacity for the analytics industry to test” for such products. The Government Chemist’s team will continue to work with UK regulators and other stakeholders to help take the ACMD’s recommendations forward.”