Illegal THC levels on UK high street

We’ve known for a while now that there’s a problem with high street CBD. With a number of different regulators depending on the type of product, from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the authorisation process for what CBD can be sold in our shops is far from concrete. 

The latest news that CBD oil being sold in UK high street store Holland and Barrett contains illegal levels of THC is therefore less shocking than it should be. As reported by The Mail on Sunday, the oil in question stocked by Holland and Barrett ‘contains four times [the] legal limit of psychoactive ingredient THC’, with the Jacob Hooy branded oil containing around 4.4 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol when, according to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations Act of 2001, products should only contain 1mg of the substance. 

And this is not just a singular, outlying issue with this oil from Holland and Barrett. This news highlights a bigger, widespread issue regarding CBD oils being sold on the high street in general. According to the paper, when a number of CBD brands being sold online and in UK stores were tested, many were found to have THC concentrations above the legal, permitted levels. 

So, why does this matter?

You’d assume that products being sold in trusted high street chains should be safe for use right? Well, with products containing THC you have to be particularly careful, even if you’re putting your trust in a big brand name. 

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the compound in cannabis that creates the high that we associate with recreational use. In other words, THC is psychoactive. This means that while THC can have a number of medical benefits, for instance it’s analgesic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, there are a number of risks associated with its use that should not be overlooked. 

Some psychoactive side effects of taking THC include disorientation, euphoria, paranoia and hallucinations, with it being advised that patients and consumers take small amounts of the substance to avoid such side effects. The use of THC by young people under the age of 18 is also highly discouraged, as it is believed by many that an excessive consumption of THC can have negative effects upon the developing brain. 

One of the major issues around this CBD product being sold then is that the labelling is incorrect, giving consumers misleading information when purchasing and deciding if the product is suitable for them. This factor is particularly vital in a case like this with a product containing more THC than anticipated, as people with potential contraindications like anxiety or mental health disorders may have sought to choose particularly pure CBD with low THC rather than the product in question to ensure no negative side effects occurred. If they bought the product thinking that the THC levels were low, they may have been making what seemed like an educated choice with an unfortunately misleading product.    

Additionally, this sale of products with illegal levels of THC highlights an issue with the regulation of CBD in the UK more generally. This news has thrown into question the ability and power of regulators in the country to control what’s being sold on the ever-expanding CBD market, particularly as a number of bodies are involved in this process depending upon the product being sold. 

As many CBD products are classed as food supplements or herbal remedies much like maca and turmeric, no medical claims can be made about them, so they are not typically subjected to the same rigorous testing methods as medical grade products.

If the product makes any medical claims however, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency should be involved in the authorisation of the products for sale. The issues with regulation arise when the boundaries between these two categories blur indistinguishably – as may have been the case here.     

How can you be sure your product is safe then?

While there are a number of steps you can take to try to ensure that the CBD product you’re buying on the high street is safe to consume and well regulated, the easiest way to ensure the product you’re consuming is safe is to get a medical product prescribed following an assessment from a medical professional. This is particularly important if you’re looking for medical benefits rather than the general and often negligible placebo-type effects elicited by CBD wellness products. 

For instance, if you seek out medical treatment with The Medical Cannabis Clinics, then you can be assured that the CBD products being offered will have medical benefits due to their rigorous testing as medical, prescribable products. 

Also, there is less risk involved in using these medical grade products as opposed to CBD on the high street, as you will have already discussed your existing health issues with our medical practitioners, who will then have an involved and thorough discussion with you about the best treatment options for your specific circumstances. This means that a safe and effective dosing regime can be adopted with you specifically in mind, with the risk of side effects being minimised as far as possible.

 

We only recommend taking CBD or hemp oil following a consultation with a medical professional, and do not advise patients on the recreational use of any cannabis-based products. 

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, our GMC registered specialists will identify the appropriate cannabis medicine care plan and products for patients following a comprehensive assessment which includes an in-depth evaluation of the main symptoms being targeted, current medications, pattern of symptoms and lifestyle factors such as safety-sensitive occupations. 

They will also monitor and adjust the medication on a regular basis to ensure the best effect with fewest side effects. There is also a carefully designed process in place to monitor patients’ wellbeing, with follow-up appointments after a week and then every month, for three months after receiving a prescription.

To register for treatment with our specialists click here

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