Following a landmark ruling, Canada became the second country in the world to fully legalise marijuana, with adults now allowed to possess up to 30 grams, grow up to four plants, and smoke everywhere that cigarettes are allowed (apart from cars).

Although legalisation in the UK does not look likely in the near future, CBD products are carving a defined space for themselves in the health and wellbeing industry. Large retailers such as Holland & Barrett and Superdrug, as well as online retailers, now sell products containing CBD, as UK CBD use climbs.

What is CBD?

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The key difference between CBD and recreational marijuana is that CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so it is not possible to get ‘high’.

Studies show that CBD has a range of therapeutic benefits, including being antioxidant and neuroprotective. Anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help relieve the symptoms of numerous conditions including anxiety, depression, irritable bowel diseases, as well as providing pain relief for a number of conditions including multiple sclerosis, and relieve some symptoms associated with cancer treatment.

In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of cannabidiol as a prescription drug called Epidiolex for two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.

While CBD oil with THC content of less than 0.05% is legal in the UK, it is not available on the NHS. However, THC is not legal, meaning that until recently medicinal cannabis oil, which contains both CBD and THC, was illegal.

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In July it was announced that specialist doctors will be able to prescribe cannabis-based medicines legally in the near future, after cases involving severely epileptic children being denied treatment hit the headlines.

UK CBD use is growing 

Recent reports indicate that the global cannabidiol (CBD) market is estimated to grow by 700% and could be worth $2.1 billion by 2020. In the UK, the number of people using CBD oil is estimated to have reached around 300,000. The Cannabis Trades Association UK has estimated that UK CBD use has doubled in a year.

The rise in popularity has followed a loosening of legal restrictions around the world. Although CBD-based products have been commercially available in the UK for some time, they appear to be gaining greater mainstream use and acceptance, as big-name companies invest increasing amounts of money int the development of CBD-based products.

Last month, Coca-Cola announced that it was in talks with a marijuana producer about developing a new ‘wellness drink’ containing CBD.

With the UK CBD market now generating around £50 million per year, the health and well-being market looks likely to capitalise on growing public interest, with CBD-based snacks, supplements and even skincare products making their way onto shelves.

Chief scientific officer at Eos Leisure Dr David Dawit believes that although full legalisation of marijuana is not on the cards, the public is more ready than ever to embrace CBD-based products:

“While Canada’s stance may point towards a more progressive world view on cannabis in the future, it is important not to confuse the recreational use of cannabis with the applications of CBD in the UK. Key efforts in the cultural debate will seek to depoliticise the medical benefits of CBD.

“As we have seen from the rising sales figures of CBD in Holland & Barrett, many of the public are ready to embrace these products in the same way that hemp, while associated with cannabis, is rarely viewed in the same frame. Recreational use of cannabis in the UK may be a long way away but CBD’s retail applications do not and should not form part of that ongoing debate. Keeping this in mind, the future of CBD applications in the UK retail sector looks bright.”