By Rebekah Shaman, Managing Director, British Hemp Alliance
On 24 January 2019, the Director General of the World Health Organization sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, recommending that Cannabis, and associated substances, be removed from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs – where it had been placed for 59 years – and rescheduled in the international drug control framework.

Under Schedule IV, it is listed alongside specific deadly addictive opioids, including heroin. Despite its long and documented medicinal history, under this Schedule it is recognized as having little, to no, therapeutic purposes, making the harvesting, processing, and consumption of the flower and leaves of the cannabis plant completely illegal.

On the 2nd December 2020, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations, and finally agreed to recognize the medicinal and therapeutic potential of Cannabis, with 27 States voting in favour, 25 States voting against, and one State abstaining.

One of the WHO’s recommendations also suggested that cannabidiol (CBD) with 0.02% percent or less, should not be subject to international controls, because there is no relevant risk to public health.

Finally, the world is waking up to the importance of Cannabis for our health and well-being.

So why, on the 11th January 2021, did the Crime and Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse, write a letter to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs – an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office – on the issue of THC content in UK CBD products?

The Government wants to create a specific exemption in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 for CBD products, which would ensure that all CBD products must contain no more than a defined trace percentage, between 0.01% and 0.0001%, of other cannabinoids.

Furthermore, the government also want to exclude non-medicinal products, like over-the-counter CBD, from relying on the 1mg Exemption from Regulation two of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations.

This means that a 10ml CBD bottle can contain 1mg THC (same as now), but a 30ml CBD bottle, which can now contain 3mg THC, would only be able to contain 0.0001% THC.

In comparison non-alcoholic, alcohol labelled as Zero Alcohol can contain up to 0.05% alcohol?

If the Government were to settle on 0.0001%, then that would end any possibility of getting access to Whole plant, full spectrum CBD.

With this short-sightedness from the government, and if these recommendations are passed, it would mean that CBD would only be available in synthetic and isolate form – taking power away from our farmers, and giving it to the pharmaceutical industry.

CBD as an isolate is not as bioavailable as a full spectrum extract, because CBD does not work alone. It needs to be consumed with other cannabinoids, in order to be effective.

We need to have access to ALL the cannabinoids to ensure our endocannabinoid systems are healthy, and what is scientifically known as the “entourage effect”.

Not only that, but the UK economy will miss out on the increasing, and very lucrative CBD market, which is currently worth £300 million in the UK.
Currently, all flower and leaf supplements and foods sold in the UK are imported. A packet of hemp leaf tea sold in Holland and Barrett for £14.99 is so expensive because the leaf and flower have to be imported from Holland, and then packaged in the UK.

All CBD sold in the UK is imported from a handful of countries that are allowed to harvest
their flowers. China produces 50% of the World’s CBD supply, with USA, Eastern Europe and Canada, the other main suppliers.

Whereas, here in the UK, licenced farmers cannot harvest the most beneficial and highest value part of their hemp plants to provide these products. They have to destroy the flowers and leaves, or leave them to degrade on the field.

Why is the Government trying to hinder the UK hemp industry even further, and Why would the government do this if the World Health Organisation has clearly announced publically there is NO relevant risk to public health?

Especially at a time of a global pandemic, when boosting our immune systems, and giving us access to essential food supplements is critical to our health and wellbeing.

These recommendations from our Crime and Policing Minister don’t make sense!

Instead of crippling the industry even further, the UK government needs to be establishing hemp as an agricultural crop, remove all these political barriers to growth that only benefit the few, and let our farmers harvest, process and sell the flower and leaf.

Join the BHA today to help us stop this madness and give us access to whole plant medicine.

For more info contact Rebekah on