All species of cannabis and their respective preparations contain a mixture of phyto-chemicals with a diverse range of uses, recreational, medicinal and other. Most notable of the chemical compounds are the cannabinoids, that primarily act upon the endo-cannabinoid system (ECS) and have a diverse range of pharmacological activities and are subject to great medical interest. In the UK a common source of phyto-therapeutic compounds from cannabis is from hemp and CBD products, often in the form of oils, pastes and raw-plant material. These can be thought of as a ‘herbal vessel’ for CBD and other compounds.
However, at present the quality and authenticity of hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) preparations in the UK is unknown, and previous research in the USA by the FDA has shown many such products to be of poor quality3 (several didn’t even contain traces of CBD). The focus of this talk is to present the findings of an online survey investigating the usage of hemp and CBD as well as phyto-chemical tests to elucidate the quality of products on the UK market. Hemp preparations are predominantly sourced from commercial-fibre-type cannabis (CTFC) rather than non-fibre type cannabis (NFTC) because the latter are usually prohibited to cultivate, possess, distribute and supply, whereas the former aren’t if EU & UK regulatory agency conditions are satisfied (for instance Home Office approval of hemp with a THC content of below 0.2%).
The market of hemp and CBD products has grown rapidly over the past 5 years, with a surge in popularity and an increase in businesses selling hemp based products taking off around 2012/2013. However, the state of quality control and safety assurance in the field of cannabis is lagging at great pace when compared with other ethno-botanicals being used as herbal remedies. This is somewhat worrying as adulteration and contamination is commonplace in the field of ethno-botanicals 5. And if poor practice is employed in the agricultural, laboratory or manufacturing stages, then products may possess health risks, such as toxins from moulds that may irritate those with compromised immune-systems or products may possess low doses that are irrelevant.
This presentation from Zackary Bellman is an attempt to try and stimulate positive scientific attention onto the topic of cannabis in the United Kingdom (UK). The field of medical cannabis is growing at a fast pace in the United States (US) and many other regions of the world, but not in the UK. With this growth is a surge to understand the cannabis plant, its many uses, misuses and properties of various kinds such as phytochemistry. The two famed compounds detla-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) are only a pair amongst a large crowd of over a hundred cannabinoids, and we are only at the beginning of understanding this wondrous plant. So let’s do it. As illuminating hemp and CBD may bring this plant out of the shadows and into the light.
Zack Bellman is a post-graduate research student at the centre for ‘Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy’ based within the division of ‘Biodiversity and Medicine’ within the UCL School of Pharmacy. He completed his undergraduate degree in Neuroscience from the University of Sussex, and has an interest in inter-disciplinary research into mind, medicine and psycho-active plants and fungi. His current research is into the chemistry and usage of cannabis, with a specific interest in hemp and Cannabidiol (CBD) extracts in the UK. He is also a musician based in London and an amateur mycologist.
“If we do not analyse, we will not understand. But let us not presume that we have understood just because we have analysed.” – Nicolás Gómez Dávila (1913-1994)