ACI Responds to Letter From Kit Malthouse MP to ACMD Chair

Please see below ACI’s response to a recent letter from Kit Malthouse MP, the Minister of State for Crime and Policing, to Professor Owen Bowden-Jones, the Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).

ACI is in the process of finalising a report relating to controlled substances in CBD products and we will submit it to the Home Office in the coming days. The following, extracted from the report, clarifies our position.

Whilst CBD itself is not a controlled substance, there are at least 12 potential controlled contaminants that can be found in CBD products including various tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds.

There is widespread confusion among the public and UK businesses relating to the control status of products containing hemp, CBD and other cannabinoids. The current Home Office interpretation presumes that all CBD products are controlled even when no controlled contaminants are detectable. This presumption is incompatible with scientific convention and is likely to be incompatible with case law.

In most European countries, maximum levels have been agreed upon for controlled cannabinoids in products for consumer use. These levels ranges from 0.001 mg/kg for EU (EFSA) and Germany to 0.007 mg/kg THC in consumer products in Switzerland and Croatia, as well as THC limits in CBD end products that range from 0.05% in the Netherlands to <3% in Guernsey.

To address the UK regulatory anomalies, our report has independently considered all the available data and recommends a THC safety limit of 0.03% or 21 μg per day, full analysis of how this figure was derived is outlined in the paper.

Controlled contaminants in CBD products

Pure isolated CBD is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA) and subsequent regulations. The MDA specifies the following as being controlled drugs under Class B: 

  • Cannabis (“any plant of the genus Cannabis or any part of any such plant” other than the seeds, mature stalk or fibre after separation); 
  • cannabis resin (“the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from any plant of the genus Cannabis”); and 
  • cannabinol derivatives (“tetrahydro derivatives of cannabinol and 3-alpha homologues of cannabinol or of its tetrahydro derivatives”).

At least 140 cannabinoids have so far been identified as being present in Cannabis species. The Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) have reviewed which of these cannabinoids would be covered by the technical definition of ‘cannabinol derivatives’ and have advised that a total of 12 are controlled under the definitions provided in the MDA. Under that interpretation, a large majority of the cannabinoids identified in the plant are not subject to control in the UK.