UK Study Reveals Lower Concentration in CBD Products than Advertised

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Citing a lack of studies on CBD concentrations in products available to consumers, this study tested a larger range of sample products than previous studies.

A study published July 13, 2023, in the Journal of Cannabinoid Research analyzed the advertised versus actual cannabidiol (CBD) content in 63 different products from 40 brands in the United Kingdom (UK) (1).

“Products (13 aqueous tinctures, 29 oils, 10 e-liquids and 11 drinks) were purchased online in the UK,” read the Methods section of the study’s Abstract (1). “CBD concentrations were quantified in aqueous tinctures, oils and e-liquids via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and in drinks via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).”


Overall, the test results showed significantly lower actual concentration of CBD than the labels claimed, with only five of the products having CBD concentrations within 10% of the advertised concentrations (1). Oil products showed the least amount of deviation (1).

“Such findings may help inform consumer choice when purchasing CBD products,” the authors noted in the Discussion (1). “However, without repeat analyses, it is unclear how much CBD concentrations vary between batches of individual products, and so whether products that deviate more/less than others do so consistently. Available market research data suggest poor consumer awareness regarding CBD product quality.”

“The over-labelling of CBD concentrations within UK products highlights the need for improved product standards, which may necessitate clearer legislative guidance on acceptable tolerance limits for advertised CBD concentrations,” the study’s Conclusion stated (1).

Possession of cannabis in the UK is illegal unless prescribed for medical purposes (2). “Some cannabis-based products are available to buy over the internet without a prescription,” stated UK's National Health Service (NHS) website on the medical cannabis information page (2). “It's likely most of these products–even those called CBD oils–will be illegal to possess or supply. There's a good chance they will contain THC, and may not be safe to use. Health stores sell certain types of CBD. However, there's no guarantee these products will be of good quality. They tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD, so it's not clear what effect they would have.”


  1. Johnson, D. A.; Hogan, M.; Marriot, R.; Heaney, L. M.; Bailey, S. J.; Clifford, T.; James, L. J. A comparison of advertised versus actual cannabidiol (CBD) content of oils, aqueous tinctures, e-liquids and drinks purchased in the UK. Journal of Cannabis Research 2023, 5 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s42238-023-00183-y.
  2. (accessed Aug 2, 2023).