There has been a lot of press recently around the safety and regulation of cannabidiol (CBD) oil; here we shed some light on the regulation change and what this means.

What is CBD?

CBD is a chemical found in the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, meaning that it won’t lead to changes in mood or perception when consumed. It is currently marketed in the UK as a food supplement but can also be found in beauty creams and foods.

The CBD market

Market research commissioned by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) estimates that the CBD market is currently one of the most rapidly growing wellbeing product categories in the UK; with a value of £300 million per annum. If growth continues at the current rate, by 2025 the CDB market will be worth almost £1 billion per annum, equivalent in size to the entire current UK herbal supplement market.

Regulation of CBD oil

In 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that products containing CBD marketed for medical purposes required regulatory approval for any medical claims. However, CBD oil that is not marketed for medical use has never been a regulated substance in the UK and it is currently legal to possess, buy, and sell CBD oil, providing the product does not contain more than 0.2% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and does not claim to have any medicinal benefit.

However, CBD regulation has recently become a point of interest as the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) have noted that there is a lack of safety and content information on CBD products currently marketed in the UK. Trials carried out on CBD products have also found that some products on sale contain unlisted ingredients or, in some cases, illegal levels of THC, the psychotropic chemical.

As a result of this, on the 13th of February 2020, the FSA gave the CBD industry a deadline of 31st of March 2021 to submit valid novel food authorisation applications for CBD products. After this date, only products which have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market.

Reactions from the industry

The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis found that there was public support for industry standards, with key customer priorities including that the product met recognised high standards, and that the product was not contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals.

How ADAS can support the cannabis sector

ADAS is a trusted name in the agriculture, food and environment sector and is regularly invited to speak at events on the topic of cannabis. ADAS launched the Cannabis Value Chain Service in 2018 and has worked with a number of organisations on this topic. ADAS can assist with the development of robust and legal value chains, support licence applications, regulations, and questions about growing and harvesting practices. ADAS is also a complete support partner for Novel Food applications that must be made to the FSA by 31st March 2021.

If you want to know more about the opportunities in the legal cannabis value chain, please get in touch with Sarah Wynn, Sustainable Food and Farming.