LAST week saw the highly anticipated publication of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Public List, including 3536 CBD products which will now legally be allowed to remain on sale in the UK.
Although no products are expected to be fully validated until at least 2023, and hundreds of applications continue to be processed, the industry’s reaction to its publication has been widely positive.
While some raised issues with the FSA’s process and reporting methods, most saw this as a ‘welcome’ step towards creating a fully regulated CBD industry, bringing a level of clarity which businesses have sorely needed for over a year.
European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)
The EIHA’s Board Member Tony Reeves said this was a ‘milestone moment for our many UK consortium members and a most welcome validation of the approach taken by EIHA to one of the most challenging issues faced by the European CBD industry.’
The group said that it is currently running multiple toxicological studies for both isolate and full-spectrum CBD formats on behalf of its partners, and has already shared preliminary ‘extremely encouraging results’ with the FSA.
Once these are completed, these companies are reportedly expected to move from the ‘on-hold’ to the validated list.
The EIHA’s MD Lorenza Romanese said: “I think the UK has understood the importance for European operators of having both forms of CBD extracts secured on the market, and that is why it is ready to study science-based results.
“A legal market for CBD extracts with the associated clarity that brings will guarantee the quality of these products and facilitate a more professional savoir faire.”
However, it added that there were some ‘inaccuracies, inconsistencies and indeed a few surprising absences on the list’.
Savage Cabbage, which recently signed an exclusive product distribution agreement with US CBD brand Charlotte’s Web, said it was looking forward to the EIHA study being published.
“Its founder Jade Proudman said: “We are pleased to see that the FSA has taken a thorough approach to a very complicated process. It has been a long road so far and to be recognised as a company with an acknowledged Novel Foods Application is a great day for Savage Cabbage and Charlotte’s Web.
“This is the first step to a better regulated industry, and we look forward to the EIHA toxicology study data being published, which is the world’s largest ever human study on safe THC limits in CBD products, to enable us to further demonstrate the safety of full spectrum CBD Oils.”
Scottish Hemp Association
Kyle Esplin, Co-founder of Holistic Highland Hemp and chair of the Scottish Hemp Association, pointed out in a post on LinkedIn, that a number of products on the list appeared to contain levels of THC well over the 1mg limit enforced by the FSA.
“The FSA has carefully reviewed the applications and thrown out those that were ‘low quality’, and they have so far accepted over 200mg THC in a single consumer product, while the FSA’s application process states:
‘All CBD products must comply with other legislative requirements and should not be regarded as controlled substances‘
“So the 1mg THC limit obviously does not apply to CBD products! Or, the FSA are not fit to conduct their own process… which one is it?!”
Vitality CBD, part of the Yooma Wellness Group, saw its entire product range included on the Public List.
The group said it ‘welcomed’ the increased compliance in the sector brought about by the Novel Foods register.
Phillip Glyn, Commercial Director of Vitality, said: “After 18 months of work and investment, Vitality CBD is delighted and proud to be included on the Novel Food Public List.
“It is an important milestone for the Company and will add further credibility to being one of the most trusted CBD brands in the UK.”
Yooma’s CEO Jordan Greenberg added that the update was ‘welcome news and moves us ever closer to receiving full authorisation for Vitality’s products.
“We look forward to receiving the results of the toxicology report and updating shareholders on our further progress.”
Newell Sciences, a vertically integrated cultivator and producer of CBD products operating out of Arizona, said it had engaged closed with the FSA for two years in partnership with Cambridge-based consultants GRS.
Its CCO D’Arcy Bond said: “With our inclusion on the FSA’s public list, Newell Sciences, with Verdant Health, are well positioned to continue to support the growth of the UK’s CBD market, and to ensure all of our customers are able to access a consistent supply of high-quality CBD ingredients.
Products linked to two applications featured on the list, which are now ‘awaiting evidence’, are understood to have used Newell Sciences ingredients.
Steven Newell, President and CEO of Newell Sciences added: “We believe that consumers deserve the highest quality hemp products and the UK CBD market has been crying out for better regulation for years.
Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI)
The UK CBD trade body said that it was ‘hugely proud’ all of its members have been included on the FSA’s public list.
It added that the list’s publication meant that the UK had become the first country in the world to regulate the market for ‘safe, orally consumed cannabis extracts’.
ACI Founder Steve Moore commented: “The FSA public list represents a major milestone for the UK’s CBD category. It demonstrates the progress the sector has made to meet compliance requirements and creates greater regulatory certainty which, in turn, will increase levels of consumer trust, encourage investment in the sector, and promote innovation. ACI is immensely grateful for the work that our members and the FSA have put in to take this momentous step.”
“At this moment in time, we understand that, for some CBD businesses, the news will not be positive, and we openly invite those businesses to contact us at ACI to understand their next steps within this fledgling and rapidly growing market. We are here to support this industry and its community to thrive.”
Peter Reynolds of CannaPro and the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC)
Hours prior to the list’s publication Peter Reynolds published an article on his blog, criticising the FSA’s handling of the process and its initial basis for intervention into CBD.
Mr Reynolds argued that the only evidence cited by the FSA which suggests CBD could pose any harm to humans is based on experiments on rats carried out by GW Pharmaceuticals, ‘administered at doses thousands of times the equivalent in humans’.
While the FSA says the list is designed to help Trading Standards set its priorities for enforcement, Mr Reynolds claims the organisation doesn’t have the ‘resources or the intention of going after CBD products’.
“All that the FSA’s intervention in the CBD market will achieve, aside from the enormous damage to businesses and jobs, is to promote the black market. For consumers the situation is only going to get worse.
“They will have the choice of ‘legal’ but useless, ineffective, isolate-based products or the wild west of totally unregulated products, some of which are the ‘real thing’ but many of which are produced and marketed by cowboys.”
Love Hemp said that the FSA’s decision both allowed it to continue to trade legally and ‘also provides clarity for consumers’.
The brand said it has invested over £300,000 into its application so far to ensure it received the best legal and scientific advice for a successful application.
It added that it echoed its ‘congratulations to the other CBD brands that have been included on the FSA’s Public List.’
Adam Pritchard, Chief Commercial Officer of Love Hemp, said: “We note today’s update from the FSA and are delighted with the results.
“The CBD industry in the UK has been largely unregulated, resulting in a lack of clarity for our consumers and we welcome progress made to date by the FSA. We continue to work closely with the FSA and look forward to the next stage of the process, proceeding to validation followed by full approvals.”
Cannaray, which says its full range of products included on the Public List, said the ‘time is now for CBD in the UK’.
Tim Clarke, Managing Director of Cannaray CBD commented: “This is an exciting time for Cannaray and the UK CBD industry. Regulation by the FSA is creating a step-change in the quality and safety of the overall CBD market, such that shoppers can try CBD in confidence, and manufacturers and retailers can partner together to accelerate category growth.”
- BusinessCann will continue to update our coverage of the industry’s reaction as more statements come through.