UK takes decisive step towards regulating CBD products

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The UK Home Office has accepted the recommendations of theAdvisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) regarding legal levels of controlled cannabinoids, including THC, in CBD products intended for consumers.

In December 2021, the ACMD released a report outlining its recommendations for changes to legislation relating to controlled substances in CBD products.

In January 2021, Kit Malthouse, then Minister of State for Crime and Policing, also recognized the need for legal clarification, stating: “There is currently no legal framework specifically exempting of CBD from the control provided for by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (Misuse of Drugs Act) and, with this in mind, the government wishes to explore the possibility of creating a specific exemption in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001) for CBD products that contain no more than a defined percentage of trace amounts of controlled cannabinoids. »

In his response to the ACMD report, published on October 24, the Minister for Crime and Policing, Chris Philp MP, said the Government intended to accept the advised limit of 50 micrograms of THC and other cannabinoids controlled per consumption unit.

A consumption unit or “individual serving” is defined as the typical amount of a CBD product consumed on a single occasion, but industry representatives have expressed the need for further clarification of what constitutes a typical serving of CBD.

At the beginning of the month, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) issued a consumer advisory on CBD ingestion, reducing the recommended daily amount from 70 mg to 10 mg, based on undisclosed toxicology studies relating to CBD isolate products submitted in as part of the Novel Food process.

CBD products could be regulated as food

The government has also agreed “in principle” to change the definition of exempted products in relation to CBD products, for example by changing the wording of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (Psychoactive Substances Act 2016), which speaks of “preparation or other product containing a controlled drug” rather than “controlled drug”.

CBD products could thus be recognized as foodstuffs and regulated by the FSA under food legislation, rather than the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Home Office.

These decisions have been welcomed by the industry as “incredibly positive”, as they could remove the current ambiguity over THC levels in CBD as a food, and allow for greater innovation.

There Cannabis Trades Associations (CTA) has published key notes for its members and its executive directors have held online meetings to explain the current situation to its members.

They said: “The Government is finally recognizing CBD consumer products as food products and delinking them from the Home Office’s drugs and licensing regulations. »

Sian Phillips, co-executive director of the CTA, said: “This will have an incredibly positive impact on the industry. Recognizing CBD as a food and setting levels of THC and other phytocannabinoids in finished CBD products will drive product innovation and the Novel Food process, and rid the industry of CBD from the ambiguity of the controlled drugs law which weighs on it. »

“The authorization of 50 micrograms for each phytocannabinoid per consumption unit makes it possible to consider a wider range of CBD-based consumer products than previously thought. »

Its co-executive director, Marika Graham-Woods, added: “Subject to clarification, bulk manufacturing of CBD as a food may no longer be illegal in the UK, given that manufacturing CBD within the parameters described is intended for food. Retailers will need to be informed of these and other recent recommendations, and many points will need to be clarified over the coming months, but overall this is finally a very positive step forward for the retail sector. CBD.”

In its response, the government also accepted “in principle” recommendations to enable more regulated and precise testing for controlled phytocannabinoids – THC type, including the implementation of standardized protocols and the obligation not to use only accredited laboratories.

Mr Phillips said the CTA was in discussions with the FSA and that, despite the need for greater clarity, the recommendations “significantly changed the landscape”.

“We still need to work on these gray areas,” she added.

The first legal framework for CBD products

L’Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) also welcomed the government’s response to the ACMD’s recommendations.

In August, the organization launched its ‘Save Our CBD’ campaign, which called on the Home Office to put in place a legal framework for the sale of CBD products, to provide greater clarity and regulation in the sector.

Steve Moore, co-founder of the ACI, commented: “It is imperative for the UK’s burgeoning consumer cannabinoid sector that a legal framework is put in place to reassure businesses operating in this area and to reassure consumers and retailers. The fact that this will also help speed up the regulatory process that companies have invested in only adds to the importance of the explicit commitment to bring forward the necessary amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.”

“The ACI will make further comments after meeting in the coming days with senior Home Office officials who have addressed this issue honestly and openly over the past three months. »

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