Legal Status Of CBD In The UK In 2020
In the 2018, the UK approved medical cannabis on prescription. Although considered a drug, the current situation for CBD is both a victory and a defeat for its manufacturers and consumers. In this article, we look at the legal status of CBD in this country, and what it means for its consumers and the industry in general.
Update On The Status Of CBD In The UK (2020).
In November 2018, the UK passed a new law whereby a limited number of doctors can prescribe cannabis-derived drugs to their patients . Marijuana went from a Schedule 1 (meaning no medicinal use) substance to Schedule 2, giving it the same legal status as opioids and other tightly regulated and prescription drugs.
Thanks to the approval of medicinal products derived from cannabis, such as Sativex and Epidiolex, the Regulatory Agency for Medicines and Health Products (MHRA) officially recognized that cannabinoids , such as cannabidiol (CBD), are beneficial from a therapeutic point of view
This fact is a great milestone for the UK. However, for consumers who want to freely source CBD products, and for the CBD industry itself, the outlook does not look very encouraging. A complex web of outdated regulations means that consumers risk losing access to the CBD products they depend on.
Cannabidiol is the second most abundant cannabinoid in Cannabis sativa, a species that includes both non-psychotropic cannabis (such as hemp) and marijuana.
CBD is produced in the resin glands of trichomes , tiny outgrowths that develop on the buds and leaves of cannabis plants. In a comprehensive review from 2018 by the World Health Organization, CBD is found to be non-toxic and well tolerated, leading to further global debate around its potential applications. Cannabinoid.
A growing body of early-stage and preclinical research highlights the versatility of CBD, which has been touted as a potential therapeutic solution for numerous disorders of the mind and body. Apart from certain applications, CBD has not yet been approved as a treatment for most of the conditions that it is believed to help.
Additionally, this cannabinoid is often consumed as a daily supplement to support general health and well-being. A few drops of CBD oil, administered in the same way as other supplements and vitamins, have become a regular part of many people’s lifestyles.
Considering the historical paucity of UK cannabis regulations, the MHRA’sMHRA’s decision to classify CBD as medicine has surprised many.
The reason is twofold: This resolution was adopted primarily in response to the worrying trend of irresponsible CBD manufacturers making bombastic medical claims about their products. However, the MHRA also finally recognized CBD’sCBD’s legitimate potential for human health based on many years of scientific findings.
Currently, the MHRA requires that all licensed drugs meet safety, quality, and efficacy standards to ensure consumer health. Although this is an effective maneuver to prevent irresponsible producers from selling misleading products, it also exposes manufacturers of quality products to a greater risk of losing their business.
The new measures introduced by the reclassification were enacted after 18 CBD companies from around the country received documents with the opinion of the MHRA, forcing the producers to cease their activities immediately. From now on, companies will need to apply for a license or “marketing authorization” to manufacture CBD medical products. This is in addition to a whopping £103,000 fee to meet the new medical quality mandates.
CBD In The UK: It’s Already Legal, But Is It Accessible?
In addition, this new classification is accompanied by a series of requirements that will affect the sale of CBD products with free access (that is, “non-medicinal”), such as CBD oils or snacks.
While the new provisions will benefit patients who take medical marijuana to combat certain disorders, such as Dravet syndrome, there is no decree that allows consumers to continue to buy CBD products. The result is an almost absurd situation in which the MHRA has recognized the medicinal potential of CBD but limits its availability to regular users.
CBD is no longer a controlled substance, which means it is 100% legal in the UK. But, in practice, things have become very complicated.
Businesses that sell legal CBD products cannot claim to offer medical benefits, which is somewhat odd as cannabis-derived medications have been approved at the same time. According to the MHRA and the FSA (Food Standards Agency), companies will only be able to advertise CBD as a dietary supplement under the guidelines for novel foods.
Similarly, THC is still illegal, although its medicinal properties have been recognized. Any of the CBD products sold in the UK must be derived from EU-grown hemp and may not contain more than 1mg THC per dose/container.
An Imminent Deadline For New Foods
CBD manufacturers have until March 2021 to apply for a novel food license. As of March 2021, any UK-based CBD business will need authorization from the FSA. This is a great challenge for the CBD market. In fact, it could spell your end.
According to Emily Miles, Executive Director of the FSA: “The CBD industry will need to provide legislators with more information about the safety and content of these products by March 2021, or these products will be recalled.”
The FSA says manufacturers were taking a long time to present their products, forcing the agency to set this deadline. At this time, almost none of the many CBD products that are available in the UK have undergone this approval process. So next year, these products will be withdrawn from the market.
One of the problems with the legal status of CBD in the UK is that it is poorly regulated. There is no up-to-date guidance guide for these products. Instead, the industry must turn to existing regulations regarding cannabis, food supplements, and general product safety.
To apply for new food status or any other type of license related to CBD or hemp requires capital, time, and resources, which many sellers and producers do not have.
A Booming Market For CBD
In recent years, the interest of British consumers in CBD products has increased significantly. In fact, experts predicted a 50% increase in the spending of CBD consumers in this country between 2019 and 2020. As a result, the market has been flooded with a wide variety of CBD products; and not all come from reliable sources.
Analyzes have revealed that many CBD products contain potentially dangerous and unlisted ingredients. Oftentimes, these products also contain an illegal level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or much less CBD than they claim (if they contain anything).
While getting rid of cheats in the industry is always fine, new hurdles are hitting quality growers as well. In other words, small businesses with good practices may not be able to afford the licenses they need to survive.
The Winds Of Change? The European Court Rules That “CBD Is Not A Narcotic” (Nov. 2020)
The ruling of the European Court of Justice of November 19, 2020, is a great victory for the CBD sector. The “KanaVape judgment,” after a six-year legal battle between the CBD company KanaVape and the European government, considers that CBD cannot be considered a narcotic drug and that the provisions on the free movement of goods within The EU. This is great news, and it could be the long-awaited turning point for the European and British CBD industries.
In this ruling, the CJEU notes that to define the term “narcotic,” EU legislation uses two United Nations conventions: the Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. The first does not mention CBD, and although a certain interpretation of the second could lead to its classification as a narcotic (since it is a cannabis extract), it would be “contrary to the general spirit of the convention and its objective of protecting the health and well-being of The humanity.”
The court also holds that, based on the current scientific knowledge that has been taken into account for the ruling, CBD “does not appear to have any psychotropic or detrimental side effects on human health.”
How Does The KanaVape Ruling Affect The UK?
The Managing Director of the Cannabis Trades Association (the largest cannabis trade association in the UK and Europe), Siân Phillips, says this decision is hugely important to the EU and will have an impact on the UK as well, because the ruling will be part of the UK’sUK’s post-Brexit legislation, favoring the trade-in extracts from the marijuana plant and possibly CBD buds within its borders.
“Generally, the CJEU ruling is a final decision,” comments Antonin Cohen of KanaVapes, who sees the ruling as a great result for Europe and France and is hopeful that it will change the EC’s decision to classify CBD as a narcotic.
Cohen is cautiously optimistic, adding that it is not known at this time whether the courts could introduce new restrictions. More than 50 companies seeking authorization to sell CBD products have been denied the application for “novel foods” in the past, following a preliminary decision by the European Commission, which in July, CBD is a narcotic & not a food. After this new ruling, the EC is now expected to approve novel food applications for CBD products.
Current Situation Of CBD In The UK
At the time of writing (December 2020), the status of CBD in the UK is as follows:
CBD import: The UK may import CBD products, but there must be independent analytical evidence that the Controlled substances do not contain banned amounts.
- CBD supplements: Products that have been released before February 13, 2020, must have a novel food application that has been validated or approved. New products (after 2/13/20) require a new food application.
- CBD Cosmetics – CBD- derived cosmetic and beauty products must provide a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR).
- CBD e-liquids: CBD intended for vaporization must comply with the regulations on nicotine-free e-liquids, i.e., the General Product Safety Directive.
- Bud with CBD: the sale of flowers (buds) with CBD, regardless of its origin, is still prohibited, even when the THC content is less than 0.2%.
- The maximum THC level allowed is 1mg per product/container. This includes buds and leaves, as well as marijuana resin in any of its forms.
The KanaVape ruling is ending the stigma that surrounds CBD and considers it a drug, placing it on the same level as the “new foods”; certainly a big step in the right direction. If the UK adopts the ruling, it will allow the free sale of CBD products and possibly even CBD flowers as ” novel foods” on the UK market. But nothing has been decided yet, and things could go both ways.
An Uncertain Future For CBD In The UK?
After all, if you can buy CBD products safely and reliably, that that’s a good thing. But, at the moment, old regulations are still in place, limiting consumer choices and threatening the CBD industry in the UK. The future remains uncertain for the UK CBD market. However, the KanaVape ruling, shining like a light at the end of the tunnel, gives hope to both the CBD industry and British consumers.