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9 in 10 Scottish consumers ‘uncomfortable’ with synthetic CBD



"If the product is going to have synthetic CBD, it should mention that on the ingredients.”

The Scottish Hemp Association has revealed that 88 percent of CBD consumers in Scotland are uncomfortable with synthetic CBD entering the market, according to an ongoing survey.

In addition, 94 percent believe that it should be a requirement to state on the label whether a product is synthetic or not.

The organisation, which represents dozens of CBD and hemp companies in Scotland, has recognised that consumers were not fully informed of the changes coming with the Novel Food regulations.

Following the 31 March deadline, synthetic CBD products will be available on the market, however companies are not legally required to say whether their products are synthetic or isolate-based.

The survey, called Full Spectrum Scotland, made participants aware of the impending changes and asked whether they are comfortable with synthetic CBD entering the market without being labelled as such.

The preliminary results from the survey, shared with Cannabis Health showed that an overwhelming majority are not happy to see synthetic CBD enter the market.

Of the 86 percent of respondents currently using CBD, 88 percent said they are uncomfortable with synthetic CBD entering the market after the 31 March and even those who are comfortable with synthetic CBD agreed that labelling should be a requirement.

Only two percent of respondents reported that they preferred isolated ‘pure CBD’. Meanwhile, 62 percent prefer full spectrum (trace THC) and 28 percent prefer broad spectrum (reduced trace THC) products.

“It’s not just about novel foods regulations themselves, it’s about the knock-on consequences on the market and the fact that synthetic CBD is entering the food supply for the first time,” said chair of the Scottish Hemp Association, Kyle Esplin.

“Consumers haven’t been informed about this and our big issue when we spoke to Food standards Scotland is that after the 31 March, you won’t know if a product is from isolate or from synthetic.

“We propose that it should be an ethical requirement. If the product is going to have synthetic CBD, it should mention that on the ingredients.”

At the beginning of the year, the association approached FSS, proposing to the body that anything under 95 percent purity of CBD should be considered a plant extract.

The goal of this was to allow companies to continue producing full spectrum CBD products. Esplin has since revealed to Cannabis Health that this proposal has not been accepted.

Esplin says that the Scottish Hemp Association will be meeting with the FSS again in early March to request that it become a requirement for companies to state whether their products are synthetically produced.

The association will have the support of the participants of the Full Spectrum Scotland survey, with 94 percent stating that they are in favour of the organisation’s proposal.

“The survey’s not fully complete yet but it’s overwhelmingly in favour of our proposal. Consumers are not comfortable and don’t realise that synthetics are entering the market and they are in favour of that being mentioned on the label,” continued Esplin.

The Scottish Hemp Association is also in conversation with government bodies about recently released guidance regarding limits on controlled cannabinoids, chiefly THC, in CBD products.

Published last month by the Government Chemist, a body that resolves scientific disputes in the food and feed sectors, the document states that products containing more than one milligramme of THC are classed as controlled substances.

The announcement has led to confusion among the UK’s CBD sector.

“We need to not bury our heads in the sand about this,” Esplin added.

“We need to talk about this before we have some narrative that gets written into law which sees people needing a control drugs license to handle or import [hemp oil].

“There are companies that want to produce oil here and export as well; hemp seed oil made in Scotland for the first time. We need to know how that is going to be handled.”

According to Esplin, the Scottish Hemp Association has faced difficulties in finding the answers to its questions, especially its confusions surrounding the concentration of hemp products.

The government guidance suggests that the one milligram threshold is independent of the total volume of the product. For example, if a 0.5kg container contains 1mg of THC, a 1kg container of the exact same product would become a controlled substance as it contains 2mg of THC.

Esplin said: “We were concerned because we have farmers in Scotland producing hemp foods this year and the Scottish Government has been investing in hemp research via Aberdeen University for the last four years.

“And now we are hearing about one milligram limits on imports. If anything over that is considered a controlled substance, then all of this hemp oil produced in Scotland would be a problem.”

According to Esplin, the organisation has approached three separate government departments seeking an answer, however things still remain unclear.

“When we asked the FSS, we were then told it would be under the controlled drugs department and we’d have to ask Police Scotland,” he said.

“We asked Police Scotland. They told us ‘sorry it’d be wrong for us to interpret any of this’, so they referred us to the Home Office. And the Home Office says there shouldn’t be any THC at all.

“It just goes round and round.”

Although Esplin and his team have faced roadblocks in their dialogue with FSS, he says the government body has been more cooperative with small CBD companies than England’s equivalent authority, the Food Standards Agency.

“We are very appreciative that Food Standard Scotland has good communications with us; it’s been very positive in the dialog and there have been attempts to discuss all the issues on the table,” he added.

“Although we don’t have all the answers and everything resolved, there have been attempts at that.

“That’s the opposite of what I’ve heard of companies attempting to open dialogue with the Food Standards Authority.”

The Scottish Hemp Association will meet with Food Standards Scotland in early March.


9 out of 10 readers have self-medicated with cannabis



Nine out of 10 Cannabis Health readers have consumed cannabis for medical purposes without a prescription – and almost all said they found it to be more effective than conventional medicines.


Over the last few weeks, we’ve been asking for your views on social media to delve deeper into how people are consuming cannabis.

As expected, the proportion of our readers who self-medicate with cannabis was high, but the results also demonstrate the perceived effectiveness of cannabis in comparison with traditional medication, highlighting a need for wider access to safe cannabis based medicines.


Despite the law around medical cannabis changing over two years ago, gaining a prescription can still be challenging, particularly on the NHS.

This has forced a lot of patients to take matters into their own hands.

According to research, as many as 1.4 million Brits are self-medicating with cannabis, equivalent to just over two percent of the country’s population.

Studies from the US have backed this up, with one suggesting that as many as a third of teenagers with a chronic health condition have taken it upon themselves to manage their symptoms with cannabis.

We asked our readers if they were self-medicating to treat a health condition, with the results confirming that almost 94 percent of people said they were.

On top of this, a further five percent said they were not currently, but were open to the idea.

Just over one percent said they weren’t self-medicating due to the stigma attached, however no one responded that the law was a factor in this. 

Effectiveness of self-medicating 


Anecdotal evidence and some early studies suggest that cannabis can ease symptoms of some chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, where other, more conventional medicines have failed.

There is also promise in the potential of cannabis to relieve some mental health conditions, with some saying it has provided huge relief for disorders such as PTSD.

Ninety five percent of Cannabis Health readers polled said they found cannabis extremely effective at relieving symptoms. 

In addition no one said they had found it ineffective when it comes to treating their condition.

The remaining five percent said they found it to have a similar effect as their conventional treatments. 

Route to administration 

How patients consume cannabis can have an impact on its effectiveness, as well as how quickly it kicks in.

With such high numbers both self-medicating and reporting positive effects, we wanted to discover the common consumption methods.

Smoking the flower is the traditional method of consuming cannabis and often viewed as the one which can provide the most relief.

However, even though it has been seen to be less harmful than tobacco, smoking can still lead to a number of other health issues and is note recommended by health professionals.

Despite this, it remained the most popular choice among Cannabis Health readers, with just over a third saying this is how they consume cannabis.

The modern alternative to this is vaping, which was the second most common route to administration among Cannabis Health readers.

Around a third of readers said this was their preferred consumption method.

Some professionals argue this is the healthiest way for consumption, with clinics recommending vaping cannabis flower, but more research is needed in this area.

One method which has few negative effects is the use of oils or tinctures.

This is typically how CBD is consumed, with 21 percent of readers saying this was their preferred method.

Self-medicating alongside conventional medicines

The NHS says it is unlikely that many people in the UK will be able to gain access to a medical cannabis prescription.

Despite this, many patients have chosen to self-medicate with cannabis either alongside or often in the place of conventional therapies. 

The majority of readers agreed with this, with 55 percent saying they no longer use conventional medicines in favour of cannabis.

A further 22 percent said they would only use their conventional medicines if they did not have access to cannabis and the remainder said that they still consume cannabis alongside conventional medication.

Want to get involved? Cannabis Health will be running a number of polls over on our social media pages, to find out more about your views on CBD and cannabis for medical and wellbeing purposes.

Follow @CannabisHnews on Twitter and @Cannabishealthmag on Instagram and keep an eye out.

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Cannabis may lead to “rebound” headaches in migraine patients – study



Researchers from Stanford University released the preliminary study

New findings suggest cannabis could lead to “rebound” or medication overuse headaches, in patients living with chronic migraine.

Using cannabis for relief from migraines may be associated with developing “rebound” headaches, according to researchers in the US.

“Rebound” headache, also known as medication overuse headache, occurs when pain medication is overused by patients who have an underlying primary headache disorder such as migraine.

The findings are from a preliminary study released on March 1, 2021, by a team of researchers at Stanford University.

For the study, researchers looked at the records of 368 people who had chronic migraine for at least a year. Chronic migraine is defined as 15 or more headache days per month.

A total of 150 of the people were using cannabis and 218 were not.

The researchers looked at who had medication overuse headache and other factors that could affect the development of overuse headache, such as frequency of migraines, overuse of other medications for acute migraine and how long they had chronic migraine.

Of the 368 people, 212 had medication overuse headache and 156 did not.

They found that the people using cannabis were six times more likely to have medication overuse headaches than those who did not use cannabis.

People who were using opioids were also more likely to have current cannabis use.

Previous research has shown that opioids and cannabis can both influence the part of the brain called the periaqueductal gray, which has been linked to migraine.

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting being held virtually April 17-22, 2021.

“Many people with chronic migraine are already self-medicating with cannabis, and there is some evidence that cannabis can help treat other types of chronic pain,” said study author Niushen Zhang, M.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

“However, we found that people who were using cannabis had significantly increased odds of also having medication overuse headache, or rebound headache, compared to people who were not using cannabis.”

A limitation of the study is that it was retrospective; longitudinal studies will be needed to further explore cause and effect of cannabis use and medication overuse headache in patients with chronic migraine.

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Always Pure Organics: “The UK is a front runner in establishing a regulated CBD market”



Sponsored feature

Following the submission of its novel food application, Always Pure Organics’ chief scientific officer, Andrew Megahy, shares what’s next for firm and the industry as a whole.

As of Thursday 18  February, Always Pure Organics submitted three dossiers to the FSA for CBD-based Novel Foods; one for their Swiss Isolate, one for their Colombian Isolate and one for their Colombian Distillate.

In the following update on the company’s application process, Andrew Megahy, chief scientific officer discusses next steps, the benefits of such regulations to the industry and gives praise to the input of several parties including Canna Consultants, DevelRx and FERA and the FSA themselves.

“This was a long and arduous process, which would not have been possible without the assistance of several parties.

DevelRx have provided extensive toxicology guidance and excellent advice regarding the design of toxicology studies, The Canna Consultants have proven invaluable at navigating the red tape and legislation regarding Novel Foods, and FERA have provided top-notch analysis of the products we submitted.

In addition to the assistance provided by the parties mentioned above, the FSA themselves have been incredibly helpful throughout.

A first draft dossier was submitted to them in December on an informal basis, with extensive feedback provided in early January. The FSA then reached out to us for a discussion regarding the feedback in a meeting with the relevant members of the FSA. This meeting was greatly beneficial in finalising our dossiers, and we have enjoyed consistent discussion with the FSA through their designated email for the miscellaneous questions that have arisen throughout the process.

We hope that the Novel Foods process will prove to be beneficial for the market in both the UK and rest of Europe overall, which we see arising from three main facets. The first is that more stringent regulations will improve the quality of products in the market, which will subsequently increase consumer confidence.

Greater confidence should lead to improved market growth. More stringent restrictions on products will also help to legitimise the industry, something that has always been an issue with CBD being sourced from cannabis.

If the market is perceived to be more legitimate, the chances of investment from recognised bodies is improved, again increasing market growth.

The final beneficial aspect comes from the UK being a front runner in establishing a regulated CBD market. This puts the UK at a distinct advantage for all the factors mentioned above as it will be able to take advantage of them first, and it also creates an example for other countries to follow for establishing their own regulated markets.

Even if these countries decide not to follow the UK’s route to compliance exactly, they will at least be able to learn from how it was implemented and use that to design their own regulated markets.

As this is a new process for ourselves, the FSA and the CBD industry as a whole, we expect Novel Foods to be less of a project that gets finished and then moved on from, and more akin to a work-in-progress that will develop over time until all parties are satisfied.

There are still several questions that remain to be answered, one of which relates to the adding of new products to an application. There has been no guidance from the FSA regarding updating an application to allow for new brands, products or raw material suppliers.

This is perfectly understandable when considering that they are focused on making sure their process for companies getting validated is correct and running smoothly, but such questions will need to be dealt with at some point in the future.

Based on the timeline provided by the FSA for submissions, we hope to have a decision regarding the validation status of our respective dossiers before April. From the amount of work that has gone into them, we feel confident that we will receive validation, but this of course is entirely reliant on the FSA’s decision. Whatever the outcome, we will continue to serve our customers to the best of our capacity to ensure their needs are met.”

Always Pure Organics aim to be the driving force behind the global understanding, research, education, and ultimately distribution of cannabis derived products.

We offer the highest quality wholesale legal cannabis and cannabinoid products, as bulk ingredients, bulk products, white label, and bespoke formulations. This is coupled with regulatory and legal expertise and supported by delivery within three working days across Europe.

Our unique bespoke formulation products allow our customers to create their own product from scratch, whilst we provide the regulatory and product knowledge, as well as production of the product.

To find out more about how Always Pure Organics can support your business on its CBD journey visit or follow us on LinkedIn.

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