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  • Spotting CBD Fraud? - Chromatography Investigates

Spotting CBD Fraud? - Chromatography Investigates

Aug 15 2020

CBD -or cannabidiol - is everywhere, it is having its Andy Warhol moment. On the high street and internet with advertisements for skin care, food supplements and medicinal cure-alls testing both the advertising and healthcare regulators. A recent survey reported that the number of UK consumers had doubled in recent years with around 10% of UK adults having tried CBD.

But, although pure CBD is legal in the UK, there are strict regulations governing its contents and use, particularly with regards to the THC content of the product. Consumers are entitled to know what they are buying, and that the product is safe and legal. Unfortunately, sometimes consumers are not getting what they paid for when they buy CBD – and could even be taking a risk with their health.

What is cannabidiol and do I get high?

Cannabidiol is one of a hundred or so compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant. In the past, when people thought of cannabis they were thinking of the ‘weed’ that was bought on street corners that was used to get high. Two of thew main compounds that we use from the cannabis plant are CBD and THC. It is THC (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) that is present in the weed that gives users a psychoactive high.

CBD is not psychoactive – meaning that it does not change a person’s state of mind when it is used. But that is not to say it does not have any affect in the body. There is some research to suggest that cannabidiol could have some medical benefits. Hence why it is being found everywhere from food to face creams. But then, what is medical cannabis?

In the UK, medical cannabis is cannabis that is prescribed by a doctor and is only available on prescription. There are very few conditions that medical cannabis can be prescribed for including severe forms of epilepsy, to help with chemotherapy and to help people with multiple sclerosis. Although CBD oils and treatments may claim medicinal benefits – consumers beware.

Is it really CBD in the bottle?

Some products that claim to have medicinal benefits are legal to buy as food supplements or as cosmetics. But there is no guarantee that these are good quality or that they contain what it says on the label. A report in the UK suggested that less than 40% of CBD products tested contained the amount of CBD that was stated on the label. There have also been cases in the USA where products have been recalled by the FDA because of toxic compounds in them.

Regulators and researchers use chromatography to separate the compounds found in a mixture such as a CBD oil on sale in a health food shop. The technique is discussed in the article, Measurement of Pesticides in Cannabis sativa and Hemp Matrices Using a Gas Chromatograph-Triple Quadrupole Mass Spectrometer. Chromatography is an analytical technique that is used to help keep us safe.


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