The consumer cannabinoid industry has launched a new appeal urging the Home Office to honour its pledge to put a legal framework in place to cover the sale of CBD products.
The #SaveOurCBD campaign warned further delays to regulation would cause “an existential threat” to companies that make and sell products containing the substance.
It accused the Home Office of failing to act on a “comprehensive report” into changes needed to the Misuse of Drugs Act to accommodate the sale of CBD products it was given in December 2021.
“We understand the complexities the Home Office faces, but businesses have consistently acted responsibly throughout this period,” said Steve Moore, a representative of the #SaveOurCBD campaign and lead counsel for the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry.
“There is no valid reason why the Home Office cannot provide the much-needed legal clarity that the industry urgently seeks,” he added.
In February 2020, the Food Standards Agency unveiled detailed plans to regulate CBD as a food product.
In January 2021, the Home Office sought advice from the government’s Advisory Committee on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to make necessary amendments to the act to accommodate the sale of CBD products.
The ACMD submitted its report to the Home Office in December 2021. This report, the campaigners said, outlined “clear recommendations regarding what would constitute an appropriate legal framework to accommodate CBD sales”.
However, the Home Office is yet to announce a timeline for this legislation.
FSA rules governing the novel foods process largely prevent any new products from being brought to market. Consequently, over 12,000 products are currently awaiting FSA approval.
The #SaveOurCBD campaign said the ongoing delay risked financial harm to the 400 companies producing CBD products for sale in the UK. It added this was “jeopardising a market estimated to be worth £690m”.
Despite this, CBD products have become increasingly mainstream. In July, a survey by Vypr revealed one in five (20%) of people consumed CBD in food and drink products. CBD drinks, meanwhile, have grown 432% to £7.3m in retail [NIQ 52 w/e 1 July 2023].
“The frustration really comes from the fact that the process is taking so much longer than expected, which makes it hard for brands to plan for the future,” said Eoin Keenan, founder of Goodrays, a CBD drinks brand. “It’s taken the Home Office nearly two years to action any recommendations. We’re still waiting for them to come to the table despite numerous requests from the industry.
“We expect these changes to take place by 2024 at the earliest, allowing existing products to move to full market authorisation and opening up a pathway for new brands and products to enter the market.”
He added: “Despite all this, we’re still seeing massive growth in the category. All the major retailers are now stocking CBD products and CBD drinks in particular are growing at a faster rate than any other functional beverage category.”
A spokesperson for the Home Office said it was continuing to give “close consideration” to the recommendations it was given by ACMD, but did not give an update on when producers could expect an update on legislation.
They added: “We want to provide greater clarity for responsible suppliers by introducing defined permitted limits on the controlled cannabinoid content of consumer CBD products.
“This will enable responsible suppliers to produce and supply CBD consumer products more easily.”