Towards the end of 2018, the UK legalised the use of medical cannabis on prescription, but, just over three months on, medical professionals are still reluctant to prescribe the drug and restrictive guidelines have left families in need disappointed and seeking help elsewhere.
The change in legislation has granted accessibility to cannabis-derived medicines for exceptional cases as seen in the high profile stories of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, but despite the new rules being a landmark move for UK medicine, experts argue it’s not straightforward as not everyone will be granted a license.
Under the new regulations, only specialist doctors are able to prescribe medical cannabis and those who want to obtain CBD oil for medical purposes have to apply for a license under a temporary approval panel. Clinicians wanting to prescribe the drug have to prove exceptional clinical circumstances and need to demonstrate that there is no other lawful medicinal product that meets the specific needs of the patient.
Some 250,000 people currently use the treatment method, a number which has doubled in the last year, according to Cannabis Trades Association UK, but due to limited accessibility those in need are turning to alternative CBD oil products available on the free market.
The explosion in demand has led to huge levels of production with many companies doing so without the attention to detail or understanding required to make a product that is destined for UK consumption.
Henry Vincenty, CEO of organic CBD oil producer, Endoca, comments:
“Whilst the change in legislation is something to celebrate, education about CBD products and the plant are still severely lacking.
“Higher demand for CBD means products which have not been standardised or have not undertaken quality testing are coming to market. What many consumers do not know is that hemp and cannabis plants are bioremediators, meaning they absorb all compounds present in the soil they are grown in – including all pesticides and heavy metals. If not quality tested and produced organically, some products can be harmful to our bodies.”
● Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK on prescription on 1st November
● Despite the change in law, doctors are still reluctant to prescribe it and patients must go through a rigorous process to obtain the drug
● Restrictive guidelines have led many to buy CBD products online, leading to a boom in production with many products going to market without sufficient quality control
Organic CBD oil producer, Endoca, has revealed the 5 questions to ask before buying CBD products online
1. Does the company have publically accessible, easy to understand lab reports?
Companies selling quality products will be proud of their lab reports, and will want their customers and the general public to have easy access to information regarding what is in their products. Do a quick search of the company website, or reach out to their customer services team who should be able to point you in the right direction. You want to see cannabinoids listed, as well as terpenes and evidence of absent chemicals and pesticides.
2. Are the products organic and whole plant?
If the products are certified organic, you will see the logo on the website. Some companies will grow organically but may not have a certification, which isn’t ideal but even without certification, a quick glance over their lab reports should show the testing for, and subsequently negative levels of a variety of chemicals or toxins.
Research and anecdotal reports support the claim that whole plant CBD extracts are more therapeutically potent than isolated CBD extracts alone. Make sure the lab reports of your products show terpene and other trace cannabinoid levels, otherwise you may be buying an isolated CBD product, which means the company is using only the CBD molecule in a carrier oil and no other beneficial plant molecules.
3. Is the CBD amount of the product clearly labelled and verifiable?
As the industry is yet to be standardised, bottle sizes and CBD levels are all dependant on the company, so it’s hard to truly know if the product you’re using is good value for money. Endoca have created this CBD calculator, which helps you work out the a monetary amount per MG of CBD, which is important when trying to decide between products.
4. Are there clear quality standards in place?
Without clear quality standards there is no guarantee of safety in the product you are purchasing so make sure you ask the company for proof of the quality standards they have in place. Ask if the products are GMP certified (when products are of pharmaceutical quality) and for any other certifications they hold that show their product is safe for consumption.
5. Is their website content clear and informative and do they have many online reviews?
As CBD is a new industry for many people, there is an abundance of misinformation online, including information that you can find on many CBD company websites. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to buy CBD in bulk and rebrand it as your own, so if the company you’re buying from provides limited information, or is not clear in giving you all the tools you need to make an informed decision or purchase, steer clear. Also, finding online sources of product reviews is vital to hearing about the experiences of others using the same products.
Research has found that CBD extracts can help with conditions including multiple sclerosis and nausea from cancer treatment, but most notably CBD has made huge strides with the treatment of epilepsy. There are currently 600,000 people in the UK living with epilepsy with approximately 1,000 dying from intense seizures every year. The use of CBD medicine can reduce seizures by around 50%, granting a longer and better-quality life for those affected.