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UK Cannabis Regulatory News & Updates


UK Government Refuses To Delay CBD Deadline For Coronavirus

The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) has denied a request from industry to delay the implementation of new regulations on cannabidiol (CBD).

The European Union and the UK have both declared that CBD is considered a novel food in 2019, meaning that it doesn’t have a history of hum an consumption in the diet. This designation requires that manufacturers secure special novel foods authorizations to sell CBD for human consumption. Further with the UK leaving the EU with Brexit achieving an EU novel foods approval does not guarantee approval in the UK as well.

In February the FSA announced that the UK had finally set limits for CBD content in foods and beverages along with guidance for at risk populations and production guidelines. The new rules set a total daily limit from all exposures of 70 mg of CBD, but also set a March 31, 2021 deadline for submitting a novel foods authorization. Any products that have not submitted for approval by that date will be pulled off the market in the UK.

However, the coronavirus has since swept across the globe disrupting business, travel and almost everything else. In response to the coronavirus the Cannabis Trades Association, a UK cannabis industry lobby, submitted a request to postpone the deadline for application submission.

The FSA recently responded to the CTA request:

“The FSA has not received any evidence in support of the suggestion that recent events with COVID-19 has rendered CBD businesses incapable of formulating novel food applications to the appropriate standard to meet next year’s deadline. This view is additionally in the context of the background to CBD extracts and the fact that CBD businesses have already had well over a year and have just under a further year to progress novel food applications; a total of over two years. Furthermore, discussions with yourselves and others in the industry have been ongoing for significantly longer. We consider that this is more than enough time to have planned and started the necessary studies. In fact, several CBD businesses have and are building the applications aiming towards the validated application process deadline date, with some having already submitted initial applications.

As such I can confirm there is no change in approach and the deadline as previously set out by the FSA remains.”
A statement from the CTA in response to the denial focused on the shock the industry has been under since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

“Many of our members have had to furlough staff and in lockdown, business activities will clearly reduce. Staff in the laboratories and other ancillary industries will also be in lockdown and therefore capacity will be substantially reduced. We find the FSA’s position on this to be quite baffling, unsympathetic and unaligned with all government departments at this moment of national and international crisis.”

It looks like the cannabis and CBD industry in the UK is under more pressure to try and meet the FSA deadlines, while simultaneously defending their staff from coronavirus. True Terpenes hopes the industry will be able to secure approvals and get products out to customers in need. True Terpenes strain profiles are formulated from botanical terpenes to replicate the taste, aroma and effect of cannabis, while avoiding the legal difficulties. Our products are legal and we ship to the UK.

The Food Standards Agency has officially outlined the path to approval for CBD foods in the United Kingdom.

The European Union has food safety regulations which require items that were not in food in common use prior to 1997 to be deemed Novel Foods which must go through an additional safety approval process. As such CBD can’t currently be sold as food in the European Union until a product has gone through the novel food approval process.

Although the UK (aside from Ireland & Jersey etc) are now no longer members of the EU, it appears they have decided to stick with the EU regulations. The FSA announced last year that they would do so, but just this week finally laid out what these rules would be.

The FSA is giving CBD companies until March 31, 2021 to submit a novel food authorization application or products will be pulled from shelves. The group also set a total daily limit from all exposures of 70 mg of CBD. What level will be allowed as a maximum per serving for example was not defined, but with a daily allowance companies can begin to do the required calculations and exposure studies to attain approval.

The FSA also advised those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication not to consume CBD products.

Professor Alan Boobis, Chair of the Committee on Toxicity, said:
“My committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and found evidence there are potential adverse health effects from the consumption of these products. We are particularly concerned about pregnant or breast-feeding women and people on medication. We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking. The committee will continue to keep these products under review in the months ahead.”

The United Kingdom passed medical cannabis legislation at the end of 2018, but a variety of institutions are slowing it’s adoption.

UK home secretary Sajid Javid introduced the law which allows medical cannabis, but much of the guidelines on how the program is run were put together in only 3 months in efforts to get the program launched. These guidelines were created by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association. The only product category restriction is for smoked cannabis.

However, despite a relatively open law there have been two major bottlenecks. The program allows doctors to prescribe cannabis through the National Health Service, but has not provided education for doctors on which compounds, formulations or conditions to prescribe. This has led to a near blockade of prescriptions through the public NHS.

In response some patients have sought out more expensive private doctors. Though even after securing a prescription it’s been just as difficult to find a medical cannabis product to use. Patients are banned from cultivating their own cannabis. Pharmacies, delivery companies and others require specialized licenses to handle these products and due to the low amount of prescriptions and patients most pharmacies are not procuring these, leading to a shortage of medical cannabis in the UK.

UK government officials have called for the NHS to work to solve both of these problems and it appears 2020 may see improvements for cannabis access in the UK.

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