CBD, The Confused Compound

I recently set up a business selling CBD online. I was really excited to share products that can, and I am sure over time will turn even the most sceptical of individual to their benefits. I did not, however, expect the issues that I and many like me have discovered in trying to trade a legal product that is deemed so high risk by financial institutions. Even the platform that hosts my site allows the hosting but disallows me to use their payment gateway. I don’t hold this against them as they have to abide by the rules and regulations of their host country, whilst also adhering to the financial institutions that make payments work. It doesn’t deter me, but it does make one realise that CBD is still somewhat bobbing off the coast of sensible consideration. This bastard child of popular culture, unfortunately, lives in the shadow of its psychoactive bedfellow, THC. 

Marijuana was made a restricted drug in the UK back in 1928, but it wasn’t until 1971 that these restrictions were stepped up due to its growing use by an ageing counterculture, but also a wider use nationally. Sadly due to the somewhat prosaic attitude towards this useful plant, it has become posterchild of the anti-drug movement. Both a gateway drug and causer of mental illness and more. We cannot ignore that marijuana will have a negative effect on a user, in the same way that alcohol, nicotine and a host of prescription drugs would. Even with these considerations in place, it is ultimately its illegality that has created the problem.

Now if THC makes one go crazy, as we are led to believe, then CBD is its calmer twin. None of the highs that THC brings to the game, but rather a considered and level approach. CBD can be produced both from hemp and marijuana, but due to hemp’s low THC levels, it is the more preferred plant for CBD production. The Government has allowed CBD to be sold as a ‘novel food’, as it states that not enough is known about the compound. This isn’t actually true. There has been an immense amount of research into hemp and marijuana CBD. Even WHO – The World Health Organisation – acknowledge that CBD is largely harmless. There is also no evidence that in the quantities that one takes for medicinal purposes, the user will feel ill effect.

So why does CBD live in this in-between state? Largely due to pharmaceutical companies lobbying the government to make sure their investments are not affected. Parliament hates change and it uses its own outdated legislation to promote its political view, even though its political view seems to be at odds with what it agrees with pharmaceutical companies. Epidiolex is a drug made by GW Pharmaceuticals and used for the treatment of severe childhood epilepsy. This is a drug agreed by FDA (US) and currently under review by the FSA. It is interesting to note that Epidiolex seems to transcend the novel food criteria as the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food stated ‘When considering the data on medicinal products, it should be noted that there will be trade-off between risks and benefits that does not apply to food.’ See: COT – Food – Epidiolex. It should also be noted that the yearly price in the States for Epidiolex is $32,500. No one can doubt that a tried and tested product installs trust in the user, but similar responses to treatment have been garnered from both marijuana in the States and CBD in the UK. It explains why in America, not all states have signed up to legalising marijuana. It also explains why states that have legalised marijuana still see CBD as an illegal substance. Keeps the medical insurance and pharmaceutical companies and state coffers buoyant.

However we try and square the circle, pharmaceutical companies have the lead as CBD manufacturers have been slow to formulate an analysis structure within their industry. This thankfully has now been brought to a head last month so that vendor and purchaser can be safe in the knowledge that what is being sold and bought meets an agreed level of content, and above all is safe.

Now if only banks would not group CBD in with arms and other illicit practices, we might have a slightly more level field to play in.

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