Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

The FSA’s Intervention in the CBD Market is a Farce. Here’s the Clear and Simple Solution.

with 4 comments

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about the mess the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has got itself into in the cannabidiol (CBD) market.  After imposing costs of millions of pounds on business for no good reason, its deadlines have been missed, it’s got very few products on its ‘approved’ list and the whole situation is chaos.  It’s changed the staff involved (again) and there is no sign it is going to achieve anything except fritter away more taxpayers’ money and impose more unnecessary costs on more businesses.

It was always going to be a disaster because deeming CBD products ‘novel foods’ was false from the beginning. It was the European Commission (EC) that first imposed this nonsensical ruling, refusing to consider the comprehensive evidence submitted by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) that extracts of CBD (and other cannabinoids) have been widely used in foods since as long ago as the 12th Century. Then, in anticipation of Brexit, the FSA, with no good reason, chose to adopt the EC’s novel foods policy and so this sad and futile story began.

The CBD market does need better regulation but ‘novel foods’ doesn’t address any of the issues of concern at all. It is a completely misguided policy.

There is no evidence of anyone, anywhere in the world, ever coming to any harm from consuming CBD as a food supplement, so the whole basis of deeming it as a ‘novel food’, as well as being false, is predicated on nothing. The reason for ‘novel foods’ regulation is safety and there is no evidence that CBD is unsafe.

There are just two issues which need addressing in regulating a CBD product: what the product contains and how it is marketed.

The first can be solved, at a stroke, by requiring all products to have an independent laboratory test certificate.  Not a certificate of analysis (COA) from a laboratory commissioned by the supplier but a certificate from an independent laboratory that has itself been certified by the regulator which, yes, should be the FSA. So this independent, ‘official’ COA will specify the cannabinoid content, certify that controlled cannabinoids are within the legal limit and that heavy metals and other contaminants are within prescribed safety limits.

The second can be solved, at a stroke, by properly funding the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to fulfil its function as regulator of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, the law that prohibits claims of medical benefit being made for commercial gain about products which are not licensed as medicines.  The MHRA has dismally failed to fulfil this function, which is ironic as it first brought CBD to regulatory attention in 2016 over the issue of these medical claims.  It simply does not have the resources to do this job. Hundreds of reports have been submitted to the MHRA by the two trade associations, the CTA and CannaPro, but not acted upon.  As a result the law is now widely ignored both by unethical suppliers and by all the national newspapers which regularly run unlawful advertisements and advertorials despite the fact that in theory, the maximum penalty for these offences is two years in jail.

These two steps, taken together, will completely solve the regulatory requirements for the CBD market.

 

4 Responses

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  1. Completely agree. The approach being taken at the moment by the FSA is incomprehensibly convoluted and in actuality completely pointless. As you have rightly pointed out, classification as a novel foods is ridiculous. The idea of lab testing seems like common sense, surely this would be the right step for the consumer and the producers. Hopefully somebody with footing somewhere in the hierarchy of decision making in this red tape stricken industry will stumble across this post and have the sense to employ these recommendations!

    Alex F

    May 27, 2021 at 10:28 pm

  2. Cool. clear uk law reform member 1000951

    Ashley Hardiman

    June 2, 2021 at 10:29 pm

  3. […] of which are the ‘real thing’ but many of which are produced and marketed by cowboys.I set out a year ago the two very simple steps which, taken together, will completely solve the regu…The FSA’s actions are without any real purpose. The novel foods regulations are solely for […]

  4. […] What was a fantastic British success story is being destroyed by vested interests squashing the small businesses that created the market.The CBD market does need better regulation and the two longstanding trade associations, the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) and CannaPro, had implemented very effective self-regulation of their members. What that needed to work was for the two regulators concerned, the FSA and the MHRA, to crack down on the unregulated end of the market but they both failed dismally to fulfil their responsibilities. The MHRA simply washed its hands of its duty to enforce the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which meant widespread, unlawful claims of medical benefit from cowboy traders. The FSA spurned all the work that CTA and CannaPro had done with it over the previous five years and formed its unlawful relationship with the multimillionaire backers of ACI.There are just two issues which need addressing in regulating CBD products: what the products contain and how they are marketed. This is the effective and inexpensive approach that CTA and CannaPro were taking and is explained in detail in this article published at year ago: The FSA’s Intervention in the CBD Market is a Farce. Here’s the Clear and Simple Solution. […]


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