As unlikely as it may seem, the UK has the potential to become a leading player in the CBD sector according to a recent headline in The Grocer. Not only that, but CBD is entering the mainstream with CBD start-up, Trip, joining Sainsbury’s Future Brands initiative and receiving over £3.5m of funding to help launch its products into global markets.
Already freely available through High Street retailers such as Holland & Barrett and Boots, there’s growing consumer demand. Commenting on the rise, co-founder of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), Paul Birch said, “Today’s report (“Green Shoots – Sowing The Seeds Of The New UK Cannabis Industry”) reveals that sales of CBD products up to the year, end of April 2021 are valued at £690m, almost a third higher than our last projection in 2019. Almost without notice and certainly by accident rather than design, the UK has improbably become the world’s second-largest consumer cannabinoids market.”
According to New Frontier Data, the UK’s CBD industry will surpass £1 billion by 2025, making it the second-largest market behind the US.
Challenges for full-spectrum CBD
But for those involved in growing, processing and manufacturing CBD products, there are many challenges ahead; full-spectrum CBD oil contains all the compounds found in the plant with only waxes, cellulose and fibres removed. These include a range of phytocannabinoids (including cannabidiol or CBD) and minor cannabinoids (such as CBG) plus terpenes and flavonoids. Together, these full-spectrum components create the ‘entourage effect’, delivering greater wellbeing benefits and making full-spectrum CBD oil more attractive to consumers in the UK.
Within full-spectrum oils, there are trace levels of ‘controlled cannabinoids’ including THC, which would technically make these products non-compliant with the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971). Current hopes are pinned on the Home Office who opened a ‘constructive discussion’ with the industry concerning permitted levels of controlled cannabinoids in CBD products, and the PM’s Taskforce of Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform (TIGRR) who states its primary objective is to “scope out and propose options for how the UK can take advantage of our newfound regulatory freedoms”.
Government support needed
Although the growth of the UK CBD market continues to exceed expectations, the Green Shoots report calls for more government intervention and support to ensure the UK gets the most from “Britain’s quiet cannabis revolution,” where even small changes in government policy could see the UK CBD market become a powerhouse within the European cannabis sector.
The report also highlights an urgent need to reform the rules around hemp farming, something we’ll be covering later this month.