The UK consumer cannabinoid industry, led by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), has launched a #SaveOurCBD campaign aimed at highlighting continuing uncertainty around regulation of CBD products and the “existential threat” to over 400 UK businesses this poses.
CBD products have been sold online and on the highs street for over ten years without legal clarity or formal regulation.
In February 2020 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) unveiled detailed plans to regulate CBD as a food product. The industry says that millions of pounds have since been invested in research by companies working to meet the high food safety standards mandated by the Novel Foods process.
In January 2021, the Home Office sought advice from the Government’s Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to make necessary amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act to accommodate the sale of CBD products. After a year-long public consultation and public call for evidence, ACMD submitted a comprehensive report to the Home Office in December 2021 outlining recommendations for an appropriate legal framework to accommodate CBD sales.
The biggest sticking point in developing regulation on CBD products has been the treatment of cannabinoids controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act (most notably THC, the main psychoactive element of cannabis that gives consumers a high). The Home Office has insisted that it is giving “close consideration to the recommendations in the ACMD’s report”, which set out recommendations for a ‘total dose’ of THC not in excess of 50 micrograms per unit of consumption.
Yet to date, ACI says, “the Home Office has still not taken any further action or provided any such legal clarity”. The resulting uncertainty, it argues, now constitutes an “existential threat to the future of over 400 companies who supply over 12,000 products consumed by 18 million adults in the UK, jeopardising a market estimated to be worth £690 million’. ACI says that the current lack of legal clarity is preventing the FSA from granting Novel Food authorisations, “stalling businesses’ operations and impeding innovation in the sector”.
Steve Moore, a representative of the #SaveOurCBD campaign and Lead Counsel for The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry says: “We understand the complexities the Home Office faces, but businesses have consistently acted responsibly throughout this period. There is no valid reason why the Home Office cannot provide the much-needed legal clarity that the industry urgently seeks.”