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UK CBD Market Needs Standardized Testing, Says Industry Body

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Oct 04, 2019   
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CBD customers in the UK may be being misled as to the contents of their products, claim an industry body.

According to the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), many CBD products sold in the UK produce different test results depending on which lab does the testing. This inconsistency allows companies to “shop around” for favourable results that don’t reflect the products’ true contents.

To address this oversight, the CMC plans to undertake a review of analytical testing in the UK cannabis industry and help establish robust, standardized methods for analytical labs.

Untested Testing

Although UK lab analysts can have a wealth of methods at their disposal to test for cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, few techniques have been validated using internationally accredited guidelines, according to the CMC.

The industry is also lacking the kind of standardized protocols that would encourage consistency across all stages of CBD production.

“​Any company in this space will no doubt have faced a number of problems when analyzing cannabis products,” Dr Parveen Bhatarah, CMC’s regulatory and compliance lead, said in a press statement.

“If there is no standardization, there is no recourse for companies or customers to question test results. The lack of standardization is hurting the industry's ability to present cogent arguments on key matters such as defining 'zero-detectable THC'.”

In the UK – which has legalized the medicinal but not recreational use of cannabis – any product with a measurable amount of THC requires a license from the Home Office.

A previous report from the CMC found the UK’s CBD market to be rife with compliance issues. Out of 30 popular UK brands tested, nearly half of products had measurable levels of THC, and only 38 percent were within 10 percent of the advertised CBD content.

A higher standard

To foster the kind of standardization needed across CBD testing labs, the CMC aims to either agree on some methods with its industry partners – which include brands such as Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. and Dragonfly CBD – or prove testing equivalence for factors such as cannabinoid contents and pesticides.

The centre says that such standards are necessary for the CBD industry to adhere to national, European, and international standards criteria, such as the European Food Safety Authority's Novel Foods applications.

“For the sector to continue growing, the conversation around the standardization and confidence in testing methods is key,” said Dr Andy Yates, CMC’s pharmacy lead. “Without this, issues on product safety and quality will plague the industry. We are delighted our members and the wider industry are working together towards a solution.”

Leo Bear-McGuinness

Science Writer & Editor

Leo joined Analytical Cannabis in 2019. From research to regulations and analysis to agriculture, his writing covers all the need-to-know news for the cannabis industry. He holds a Bachelor's in Biology from Newcastle University and a Master's in Science Communication from the University of Edinburgh.


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