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9 in 10 Scottish consumers ‘uncomfortable’ with synthetic CBD

Posted by Calum Napier on
9 in 10 Scottish consumers ‘uncomfortable’ with synthetic CBD

The Scottish Hemp Association has revealed that 88 percent of CBD consumers in Scotland are uncomfortable with synthetic CBD entering the market, according to an ongoing survey.

In addition, 94 percent believe that it should be a requirement to state on the label whether a product is synthetic or not.

The organisation, which represents dozens of CBD and hemp companies in Scotland, has recognised that consumers were not fully informed of the changes coming with the Novel Food regulations.

Following the 31 March deadline, synthetic CBD products will be available on the market, however companies are not legally required to say whether their products are synthetic or isolate-based.

The survey, called Full Spectrum Scotland, made participants aware of the impending changes and asked whether they are comfortable with synthetic CBD entering the market without being labelled as such.

The preliminary results from the survey, shared with Cannabis Health showed that an overwhelming majority are not happy to see synthetic CBD enter the market.

Of the 86 percent of respondents currently using CBD, 88 percent said they are uncomfortable with synthetic CBD entering the market after the 31 March and even those who are comfortable with synthetic CBD agreed that labelling should be a requirement.

Only two percent of respondents reported that they preferred isolated ‘pure CBD’. Meanwhile, 62 percent prefer full spectrum (trace THC) and 28 percent prefer broad spectrum (reduced trace THC) products.

“It’s not just about novel foods regulations themselves, it’s about the knock-on consequences on the market and the fact that synthetic CBD is entering the food supply for the first time,” said chair of the Scottish Hemp Association, Kyle Esplin.

“Consumers haven’t been informed about this and our big issue when we spoke to Food standards Scotland is that after the 31 March, you won’t know if a product is from isolate or from synthetic.

“We propose that it should be an ethical requirement. If the product is going to have synthetic CBD, it should mention that on the ingredients.”

At the beginning of the year, the association approached FSS, proposing to the body that anything under 95 percent purity of CBD should be considered a plant extract.

The goal of this was to allow companies to continue producing full spectrum CBD products. Esplin has since revealed to Cannabis Health that this proposal has not been accepted.

Esplin says that the Scottish Hemp Association will be meeting with the FSS again in early March to request that it become a requirement for companies to state whether their products are synthetically produced.

The association will have the support of the participants of the Full Spectrum Scotland survey, with 94 percent stating that they are in favour of the organisation’s proposal.

“The survey’s not fully complete yet but it’s overwhelmingly in favour of our proposal. Consumers are not comfortable and don’t realise that synthetics are entering the market and they are in favour of that being mentioned on the label,” continued Esplin.

The Scottish Hemp Association is also in conversation with government bodies about recently released guidance regarding limits on controlled cannabinoids, chiefly THC, in CBD products.

Published last month by the Government Chemist, a body that resolves scientific disputes in the food and feed sectors, the document states that products containing more than one milligramme of THC are classed as controlled substances.

The announcement has led to confusion among the UK’s CBD sector.

“We need to not bury our heads in the sand about this,” Esplin added.

“We need to talk about this before we have some narrative that gets written into law which sees people needing a control drugs license to handle or import [hemp oil].

“There are companies that want to produce oil here and export as well; hemp seed oil made in Scotland for the first time. We need to know how that is going to be handled.”

According to Esplin, the Scottish Hemp Association has faced difficulties in finding the answers to its questions, especially its confusions surrounding the concentration of hemp products.

The government guidance suggests that the one milligram threshold is independent of the total volume of the product. For example, if a 0.5kg container contains 1mg of THC, a 1kg container of the exact same product would become a controlled substance as it contains 2mg of THC.

Esplin said: “We were concerned because we have farmers in Scotland producing hemp foods this year and the Scottish Government has been investing in hemp research via Aberdeen University for the last four years.

“And now we are hearing about one milligram limits on imports. If anything over that is considered a controlled substance, then all of this hemp oil produced in Scotland would be a problem.”

According to Esplin, the organisation has approached three separate government departments seeking an answer, however things still remain unclear.

“When we asked the FSS, we were then told it would be under the controlled drugs department and we’d have to ask Police Scotland,” he said.

“We asked Police Scotland. They told us ‘sorry it’d be wrong for us to interpret any of this’, so they referred us to the Home Office. And the Home Office says there shouldn’t be any THC at all.

“It just goes round and round.”

Although Esplin and his team have faced roadblocks in their dialogue with FSS, he says the government body has been more cooperative with small CBD companies than England’s equivalent authority, the Food Standards Agency.

“We are very appreciative that Food Standard Scotland has good communications with us; it’s been very positive in the dialog and there have been attempts to discuss all the issues on the table,” he added.

“Although we don’t have all the answers and everything resolved, there have been attempts at that.

“That’s the opposite of what I’ve heard of companies attempting to open dialogue with the Food Standards Authority.”

The Scottish Hemp Association will meet with Food Standards Scotland in early March.

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