Academic Paper: An Analysis of Over-the-Counter Cannabidiol Products in the United Kingdom

The ACI is pleased to announce the publication of the peer-reviewed academic paper entitled “An Analysis of Over-the-Counter Cannabidiol Products in the United Kingdom”. Two of the paper’s authors are part of the team of experts forming The ACI, Professor Saoirse O’Sullivan and Dr Andy Yates.

“In this independent study, we blind tested over the counter CBD products available in the UK,” explains Professor Saoirse O’Sullivan, The ACI Science Lead. “As has been observed in other countries, we found that only 38% of CBD products were within 10% of the advertised CBD content (one product actually had no CBD in it), and more than half of the products had measurable levels of the controlled substances Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabinol (CBN).”

Back in June 2019, before The ACI was founded, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) released their groundbreaking report “CBD in the UK: Towards a responsible, innovative and high-quality cannabidiol industry,” after conducting the most comprehensive review ever undertaken of the sector in the UK.

Market research commissioned by the CMC estimated the CBD market as one of the fastest growing wellbeing product categories in the UK. The growth of which will value the market at £1B by 2025. This report caused a bit of a stir at the time and these figures are often cited in the press.

The report was comprised of four key sections:

  1. Market sizing – a comprehensive economic analysis of CBD market in UK
  2. Product testing – blind testing of 30 major CBD brands available on UK market
  3. Consumer survey of 2000 members of the public by YouGov
  4. CMC Policy recommendations – presented to senior officials at the UK Home Office, MHRA, FSA and DHSC.

The product testing section, in particular, resulted in many articles in the UK press covering this consumer rights scandal. At the time of publishing the report, the CMC committed to having this chapter peer reviewed. The resulting academic paper, authored by Prof Saoirse O’Sullivan, Dr Andy Yates, Blair Gibbs and Nicholas Clarkson was published in the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in April 2020.

After almost one year a lot has changed in the UK CBD industry as a result of this seminal report. The ACI presents this timeline of the key milestones for the industry.