CBD products: UK saw ‘quiet cannabis revolution’ during pandemic

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Britain has experienced a “quiet cannabis revolution” during the Covid-19 pandemic, Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) said today (19), adding that the UK is now the world’s second-largest consumer of cannabinoids market after the US.

Experts feel that Britain’s legal cannabis market has boomed during the coronavirus pandemic owing to anxiety and sleep issues.

“The pandemic increased CBD demand because there obviously were stress, sleep problems, anxiety,” ACI co-founder Steve Moore told AFP.

Such products are expected to generate sales of £690 million in 2021, according to ACI, which is almost a third higher than the UK trade group’s pre-pandemic 2019 projection.

Cannabidiol or CBD, which is most commonly sold as oil at high street retailers, is one of the active ingredients of non-psychoactive cannabis.

CBD is touted to have relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties, but experts argue the market has long suffered from questions over its efficacy and lack of regulations.

Currently, Britain’s Food Standards Agency regulates the sector and its marketing, after the European Union classified CBD as food in 2019.

Such products are stripped of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol or THC molecules, which are found in recreational cannabis that remains illegal in Britain.

The UK allows the sale of hemp products that can be made only from the cannabis plant’s fibres or seeds, but not the buds.

The state-run National Health Service warns there is “no guarantee” that products claiming to be medical cannabis and sold in health stores as food supplements, such as CBD oil, are of “good quality or provide any health benefits”.

Aside from Covid, such products have also experienced strong demand from Britons seeking to ease pain from chronic illnesses such as severe arthritis, though British charity Versus Arthritis recommends patients contemplating CBD should consult their doctor beforehand.

Despite the concerns, Joe Oliver, head of British-based cannabidiol firm LDN CBD, says his products help those with chronic illness.

“From testimonials and feedback we have found that this benefits those who are dealing with the effects of traumatic experiences, chronic illness and in high-stress environments,” he said. 

Britain’s CBD industry is currently forced to import oil from Europe and the US.

Under UK drugs law, it is not possible for British companies to produce CBD because they are compelled to destroy the CBD-rich flower or bud of the hemp plant.

That has sparked an outcry from the farming community, which argues that profits could be boosted massively if they were allowed to use all of the plants, said recent reports.