Professor Mike Barnes, neurologist, scientific and medical advisor to CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, has issued the following statement.
“It is encouraging that the MRHA is recognising that CBD has medicinal value but it is concerning that many people benefitting from CBD now will suffer in the short term as good quality manufacturers have to stop production pending MRHA approval”
For some weeks, rumours and half stories have been swirling around about the MHRA taking action on CBD.
Initially a number of suppliers were warned about making medicinal claims, even testimonials from satisfied customers were ruled as unlawful. Anything which suggested that CBD was a medicine or provided therapeutic effects was ruled out under UK medicines legislation.
Responsible CBD suppliers have known this for some time and were scrupulous in ensuring no such claims were made, even including disclaimers explicitly stating that their products were not for medical use. But as CLEAR has reported many times before, the CBD market is full of cowboys, get-rich-quick scam artists that tell bare faced lies about their products as well as making outlandish claims for the medicinal benefits. The crackdown from the MHRA was inevitable when these fools put their short term gain ahead of developing a responsible and self-regulating market in which CBD could continue to be sold as a food supplement.
We have seen every sort of bad practice it is possible to imagine. Some suppliers have attacked all of their competitors, stating that they are the only ‘ethical’ supplier and everyone else is telling lies. MediPen put all its resources and efforts into marketing and PR without providing proper information to customers about what its product contained. It achieved great coverage in tabloids like the Metro and the Mirror and even managed to spin a wholly misleading story that the NHS was “trialling” its product (In fact it was at last using an NHS accredited laboratory to test its product contents, that is all). Another supplier called Sacred Kana was rebranding cheap and nasty Romanian hemp extract and selling a bottle for just over £50, claiming it contained 10,000 mg of CBD. Testing showed that it actually contained less than 200 mg. Wrapped up in a warm, cuddly hippy-style marketing campaign, they were trying to pass themselves off as the Rick Simpson of CBD when all they are is conmen.
Responsible suppliers did include CBD information on their websites and often linked to scientific studies and research. Clearly, even this has become too much for the MHRA and now the market is being closed down. You can thank the greedy idiots, the conmen and the barrow boy salesmen trying to pretend they were scientists.
Of course the truth is that CBD is medicine, so the MHRA isn’t wrong. Most CBD products are, in fact, low-THC, whole plant extracts, so they were, effectively, a legal form of cannabis. The therapeutic benefits they offered were not just from CBD but from the ‘entourage effect’, recognised by science as the synergy between all the different components of cannabis. Unfortunately, we even had some companies promoting the fact that their so-called ‘CBD oil’ actually contained significant proportions of THC and CBN, both ‘controlled drugs’ under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
The crackdown was inevitable but it may leave tens of thousands of people with real health problems as they are no longer able to obtain what they were legitimately using as a food supplement.
Of course, designating CBD as a medicine is inconsistent with the UK government’s position that cannabis has “no medicinal value” but it’s been common knowledge that this is untrue for many years. The only good news coming out of this debacle is that this could be the beginning of proper, honest regulation of cannabis as medicine. But if we’re looking at clinical trials before CBD can be marketed again, it could be many years away and that’s after someone or some company decides to invest the £250,000 or more that could cost.
CBD products will still be available offshore and you probably will be able to order online and have them delivered by post. The price is bound to go up and you will be committing a criminal offence by importing an unlicensed medicine but no doubt may will choose to take this risk.
CLEAR is working with the UK Cannabis Trade Association and our Advisory Board members Professor Mike Barnes and Crispin Blunt MP, to try and persuade the MHRA to enter a consultation process and allow CBD to remain available as a food supplement in the short term.
In the longer term, as we know far too well, the only solution is for a proper system of regulation for cannabis. including its use as medicine.