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Over 25 stakeholders from various cannabis industry sectors in Canada, USA and the EU, participated in the recent Cannabis Authenticity and Purity Standard (CAPS) Steering Committee Session, on June 23 2020, to hear more about the need for standardized safety and quality measures throughout the medicinal, edible, beverage, topical and recreational cannabis product supply chain.  

Cannabis and hemp are natural products increasingly consumed for their perceived health benefits by those seeking alternative nutrition and medicine to deal with common ailments such as chronic pain, anxiety, infections, and compromised immunity. In many jurisdictions where these products are legally available, government regulations tend to stipulate only the basic safety requirements. In most other established industry sectors, brands, retailers, and consumers demand far more than the minimum regulatory requirements and usually impose more rigorous safety and quality brand protection measures from their suppliers.

Steering Committee participants also interacted with presenters such as Roger Muse, a Vice President at the ANSI American National Accreditation Board (ANAB), who spoke about the value of third-party accreditation, standards, and testing methods specifically designed for the cannabis industry. “We are excited to be working with Purity-IQ whose CAPS third-party certification will combine requirements for ISO/IEC 17065 accreditation process together with ISO/IEC 17025 laboratory accreditation. As a condition for doing business, the CAPS certification process will provide brands and specifiers with much needed safety and consistency assurances.”

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A national survey of CBD products by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has found that the majority of products analysed were in breach of various articles of food law and some posed potential safety risks for consumers.

The survey reveals that 37% of the products tested had a THC* content that could result in safety limits set by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) being significantly exceeded and the implicated batches of these products are currently being recalled. In addition, it was found that the analytically determined CBD content in over 40% of samples varied significantly (>50%) from the declared CBD content.

The implications of these results for consumers range from consumers being grossly misled to being put at risk by the ingestion of relatively high levels of THC. The majority of the 38 products tested from the Irish market were manufactured outside of the country.

The FSAI is working with the Environmental Health Service of the HSE and the relevant food businesses in relation to the matter.

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CBD - cannabidiol - isn't marketed as medicinal cannabis. It doesn't have a psychoactive element that makes the user high. Some studies indicate it can help with childhood epilepsy seizures, and other people think it helps them too.

There has been a spike in demand within the last twelve months, according to manufacturers. Non-medicinal CBD is now on sale in High Street shops across the country, including chemists. But the National Pharmacy Association says the products need clearer information and better checks on content.

 Cannabidiol oil is being added to a range of products - from water, to chocolate, to make-up, tea and coffee. Manufacturers claim sales in the UK are as much as £300m at the moment.

It's illegal to print any health claims on the products, but it's a grey area as to who checks the ingredients, or the amount of CBD oil actually contained in each product, many of which can be very expensive. CBD is classed as a food supplement, so it's governed by the Food Standards Agency. FSA said it expects "companies to comply with the novel foods process, which includes submitting safety information about their products"."The FSA is considering the best way to ensure CBD food-related products currently on the market move towards compliance," it added.

In the meantime, customers buying any CBD product have no guarantees if the product is safe, or indeed if it contains any CBD oil at all.

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