For decades CBD research was held back by the global prohibition on cannabis and the stigma that ensued. Now, thanks to radical legalisation in parts of the world like Canada and the US, research into cannabinoids is undergoing a total renaissance.
All across the world, new scientific endeavours are cataloguing and finding new uses for cannabinoids, terpenes and all manner of other unique active ingredients found in the cannabis plant. From pain management to helping combat childhood epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, you’d be forgiven for thinking that CBD is a veritable panacea. On top of its use in tinctures and food supplements, more and more uses for industrial hemp are being discovered all the time. From hempcrete building materials to hemp-based plastics, it’s as if there’s no end of uses for this unique plant.
Why Is There So Much CBD Research All of A Sudden?
Aside from the change in cultural attitudes, the new boom in CBD research has a very clear cause: Demand. Consumer interest in CBD oils is at an all-time high. Thanks to word of mouth, exhaustive media coverage, and testimonies from athletes and other thought leaders, CBD has become a must-have product for tens of thousands of people.
This spike in interest has prompted dozens of research groups, both governmental and private, to look into this cannabinoid. One of the main drivers of demand in CBD, according to a report from The Centre For Medical Cannabis, is its purported health and wellbeing benefits. Eager to verify and capitalise on these claims, new research initiatives are being launched on what feels like a daily basis.
The UK, in particular, has a vested interest in this glut of research. The UK’s CBD industry is one of the biggest in Europe. However, a lot of the raw materials this industry consumes are actually produced overseas and rarely harvested domestically. The worldwide supply chain for industrial, CBD-rich hemp is growing quickly and, as it stands, various legal restrictions prevent the UK’s farmers from growing industrial hemp in adequate amounts needed to match demand. This means that hemp cultivation isn’t currently financially viable.
However, the UK does have a strong pharmaceutical sector. It can use this infrastructure to ensure that they can remain big players in the CBD market despite their relative lack of hemp crops.
CBD Research In The UK
Phytovista is foremost among the CBD research laboratories in the UK. In 2019, The Centre For Medical Cannabis commissioned them in the first major third-party testing exercise in the UK CBD industry. 30 products were blind-tested in their laboratory.
The intention was to find out what the variance of CBD product was in the UK and whether that was suitable for mass consumption. Phytovista laboratories have state-of-the-art facilities and hard-won expertise in the pharmaceutical industry. They use validated methodology and strict quality systems to ensure that their CBD testing and research is reputable and effective.
Their 2019 tests yielded highly revealing results. They found that quality varied massively from product to product, with a large selection of the tested products turning out to be substandard. Major issues included inaccurate labelling, high levels of prescribed THC, and potentially harmful contaminants.
Another major issue was that only around 40% of tested products contained within 10% of their claimed CBD content. One product was revealed to actually contain 0% CBD. This product retailed for £90.
What Is The Value of This Research
These results are a wake-up call for the UK’s CBD industry. The huge variance of quality in the products tested is a testament to how a lack of standards in the CBD industry can cause a lot of harm to its reputation.
A lack of formal governmental regulation has allowed many manufacturers to play fast and loose with the quality of their products. While some people are quick to say caveat emptor, buyer beware, this goes far beyond personal responsibility.
If CBD consumers begin to feel as though their purchases could become a veritable roulette, they may begin to lose trust in the industry, eventually abandoning it entirely.
Third-party testing from researchers like Phytovista can help producers assure their customers that their products are trustworthy. At the moment, the onus of regulation and quality assurance falls on the CBD industry itself. By joining forces with each other, and reputable CBD researchers, the major producers in the CBD industry can help ensure that CBD’s reputation isn’t stained by unethical money-grabs.
This is also a safety issue. Cannabis and hemp are phytoremediators. This means that they absorb any pollutants they come across in the soil. All plants do this to a degree, but cannabis and hemp are especially good at it. This means if hemp is grown in soil with high levels of heavy metals or other toxins it will absorb much of this. Any CBD products that use this hemp as a raw material will be inextricably contaminated, posing a great risk to anyone who consumes it.
As we mentioned above, the majority of industrial hemp in the UK comes from overseas and is beholden to the agricultural standards of its point of origin. The CBD industry in the UK cannot fully guarantee the quality of these hemp plants. This why CBD research laboratories are so essential to the UK’s CBD industry. Through their testing and research, they can ensure that the products on our shelves are safe and high quality.
The Biggest Names In CBD Research
Phytovista labs are at the forefront of CBD research in the UK. In their state of the art labs, they carry out research and tests on nearly every aspect of hemp and cannabis. They analytically test the cannabinoid profile of products, the presence of terpenes, and most importantly, the levels of toxins and heavy metals present in CBD products.
The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis
CMC draws on the inherent strengths of the UK, the publicly-funded NHS, world-renowned research universities, and an advanced science sector to advocate for a safe, global standard for the UK CBD industry. They employ a council of highly-qualified researchers and scientists to ensure that they are well equipped to help lead the CBD-industry into the 21st century.
Originally hailing from Israel, CiiTECH is now an officially registered UK research company. They are a Biotech company engaged in ongoing cannabinoid research built upon decades of expertise drawn from experts from The Hebrew University of Israel. While most of the world spent the last 60 years avoiding medicinal cannabis research, scientists in Israel conducted endless clinical trials to divine it’s wide-ranging medicinal purposes.