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UK Food Standards Agency Issues Ultimatum To CBD Industry

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Brexit or not, it appears that the CBD industry has been one of the earliest to learn that all things regulatory are not in free-fall as the divorce papers are served from the continent. Indeed, the UK Food Standards Agency has laid down the law and set a deadline for CBD purveyors in the British Isles. 

On February 14, the FSA, the regulatory agency for all things foodstuffs, set a compliance deadline for CBD products currently in the market. Namely that they must file Novel Food applications by March 31, 2021. Failure to do so will result in penalties, including the removal of foodstuffs from shelves.

But what does this declaration really mean? And should the cannabis industry lean in?

Is CBD Really A “Novel Food?”

Part of the nefarious regulating on this issue is that CBD as a cannabinoid is certainly not “novel.” When produced from strains of hemp found in Europe, there is nothing new about the source of the plant. And when produced under food safety regulations, including extraction, the other part of the regulation falls away.

However much like in Germany and the rest of Europe, no matter how “original” the Brexited UK wants to be seen, the debate over legalization has stalled on issues and wording that is not only obscure, but also highly misleading.

Cannabis, no matter the amount of THC in the genus in question, is a plant. As such, it is also regulated under various regulatory schemes when bound for human consumption. “CBD” is not a plant, but rather a chemical compound, extracted from the plant via various different means that are also regulated both in the EU and in the UK.

Novel Food, in other words, is a regulatory schemata that is expensive and often unnecessary if other regulatory procedures are followed – ones that look awfully familiar to those with a background not only in pharma, but also now food and cosmetics.

What Is Coming For Europe?

So far, the debate on the continent is much the same – with Novel Food regulatory muster now being required in most cannabis legalizing countries. At the same time, however, many in the cannabis industry are also learning how to live with such regulations if not navigate them into the immediate future.

It is confusing, however, there are those who are absolutely braving the waves, if not beginning to chart successful paths through the industry by learning the ropes.

Be sure to attend the International Cannabis Business Conference’s regulatory panels as well as the keynote speech on April 2 by Peter Homberg, Partner Dentons Law Firm and head of their European Cannabis Practice.