London: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L) along with many other cannabinoids that may either exhibit psychoactive or non-psychoactive properties.

CBD products, which are available to purchase online or on the high street, are sold for their potential to produce ‘well-being’ benefits. Currently, the most commonly sold CBD product is CBD oil, but the range of products containing CBD is expanding and includes food supplements, drinks, cosmetics and liquids for vaping.

CBD food products are regulated as novel foods and must comply with safety and labelling regulations. The presence of controlled cannabinoids is a known risk and interpretation and analysis of ‘controlled drug’ content ‘thresholds’ of CBD presents difficulties. This is why the Ministerial Commission asked the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to specify which cannabinoids should be controlled and to set an unavoidable trace level for each of these within consumer CBD products.

As the Government Chemist had undertaken a number of CBD-related projects, we were able to provide valuable input to the ACMD’s call for evidence:

The ACMD published its advice for the control of consumer CBD products in December 2021. In October 2023, the Government published its response, which states that it agrees in principle to all the AMCD’s recommendations.

Earlier in October 2023, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued updated precautionary advice on CBD, which recommended that “healthy adults should limit their consumption of CBD from food to 10mg per day, which is about 4-5 drops of 5% CBD oil.” The previous limit was 70 mg per day. This change in advice is based on new evidence from the industry and advice from FSA’s independent scientific committees.

The Government Chemist will continue to work with UK regulators and other stakeholders to deliver the ACMD’s recommendations in support of effective regulation to ensure that CBD related food products are safe.