High street health food giants Holland & Barrett have hit back at claims they sell illegal CBD oil.
The Daily Mail made the allegation in a recent article, claiming that Holland and Barrett were selling Jacob Hooy cannabis oils with up to 10 times the legal THC limit.
In response, Holland and Barrett explained how they took legal advice as well as guidance from the Home Office before marketing the THC-containing products.
They claim that the negligible THC content in the product is well below the lowest observable adverse effect level for humans (there’s 4.4 milligrams in a 10ml bottle).
Many in the industry interpret the the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001 to state the legal THC limit for a cannabis-derived product to be 1mg.
However, Holland & Barrett say this only applies to products designed for the administration of controlled cannabinoids to humans or animals – which their food supplement is not.’
Holland & Barrett’s response
A spokeswoman for Holland and Barrett said, “As a responsible retailer, we have disseminated advice on various CBD topics via in-store leaflets supported by the industry including the European Industrial Hemp Association.
“The CBD oil sold by Holland and Barrett is a food supplement and as such, we do not make medicinal claims on these products.
“As a food supplement, CBD Oil is clearly not designed for administration of controlled cannabinoids as evidenced by its packaging and labelling.
“The presence of negligible quantities of controlled cannabinoids in the CBD oil is due to the technical difficulty in obtaining pure CBD.
“The CBD Oil is nevertheless manufactured to limit the presence of THC and we always verify that suppliers employ quality controls to minimise residues of THC in CBD products to negligible levels.
“Before listing these products in the UK in May 2016, we consulted with the UK Home Office and also took legal advice regarding the negligible amount of THC, which is unavoidably co-extracted with CBD from hemp.
“We sought legal advice as there has been no legal interpretation by the courts of terms such as “component part” or “preparation” and even if these terms apply to products sold as food supplements (which are subject to their own detailed rules regarding their manufacture, safety and marketing).
“The Scientific opinion published by EFSA in 2015 also found the lowest observable adverse effect level (LOAEL) for THC in humans to be 0.036 mg/kg body weight per day.
“Taking into account the daily dosages of THC in CBD marketed by Jacob Hooy and other brands in the market, these are almost 10-fold below the LOAEL based on the data received to date from suppliers.
“This has been confirmed by our own independent due diligence testing also conducted by FERA ( Food and Environmental research agency).
“Based on our due diligence we believe that we are lawfully marketing these products, which are also lawfully marketed elsewhere in the EU with similar levels of THC.”
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
Most forms of cannabis are illegal in the UK under the The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Hemp, however – which is cannabis grown from EU-approved seeds and contains less than 0.2% THC – can be grown and possessed legally if you have a licence. CBD, in its pure form, is also not controlled under the MODA 1971.
As well as outlining illegal substances, the Misuse of Drugs Act makes some cannabis-derived products exempt. To meet the criteria of an exempt product, it must comply with these three statements:
a) the preparation or other product is not designed for administration of the controlled drug [i.e. THC or CBN] to a human being or animal;
b) the controlled drug [THC and/or CBN] in any component part is packaged in such a form, or in combination with other active or inert substances in such a manner, that it cannot be recovered by readily applicable means or in a yield which constitutes a risk to health; and
c) no one component part of the product or preparation contains more than one milligram of the controlled drug [in this case, THC and CBN] or one microgram.