You might have woken up today to headlines announcing that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has banned CBD.

This is false, but it’s important to know about the changes that have taken place over the past week or so to fully understand what’s going on.

Here’s the timeline:

20th December 2018

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (commonly known as the ‘Farm Bill’) is signed into American law. Within the bill, the classification of hemp (a strain of Cannabis used in agriculture and industry) is removed from the Controlled Substances Act.

The FDA (U.S Food and Drug Administration) release a statement the same day in order to clarify its position on the changes. It acknowledges the growing public interest in cannabis-derived products (especially CBD) and also adds:

“In short, we treat products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds as we do any other FDA-regulated products — meaning they’re subject to the same authorities and requirements as FDA-regulated products containing any other substance.”

the full press release here (x).

18th January 2019

In what is being considered as a response to the US FDA clarification statement, the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) publishes a change to Cannabidiol’s status in its ‘Novel Foods’ register.

The entry on the register now reads:

“Extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids are considered Novel Foods as a history of consumption has not been demonstrated. This applies to both the extracts themselves and any products to which they are added as an ingredient (such as hemp seed oil)”

A ‘Novel Food’ is defined (x) as food that; “had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15th May 1997”, which is when the first regulation on Novel Food came into force.

Examples of Novel Foods which have been through the approval process include chia seeds, krill oil, and menaquinone – the relatively new source of Vitamin K.

Access the register here (x) and search “cannabinoids” to view the entry.

30th January 2019

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) tweets (x) out, making the general public aware of the changes. It also adds:

“We are considering the way forward in light of this clarification at EU level. We are meeting with relevant industry representative bodies, local authorities and other stakeholders to clarify how to achieve compliance in the marketplace in a proportionate manner.”

@foodgov, 30th Jan 2019, 7:29am

Current status

Based on earlier statements released by EFSA, wording has (until now) suggested that CBD is not classed as a Novel Food. Because there is no direct safety risk associated with CBD, it is likely this change in status has occurred in an effort to cover up a previous misstep in technical processing.

As of today (31st January 2019) there is no official FSA ruling denoting whether CBD products will need to be withdrawn from the market. However, if CBD becomes a Novel Food, it will need to go through the Novel Food approval application process.

This process takes about a year, and Smart CBD will be working to attain an Approved Novel Food Status so it can continue to provide the high-quality CBD oils and other products that it is known for.

Trade organisations such as the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), UK Cannabis Trades Association (CTA), British Hemp Organisation (BHA), and individual businesses and suppliers will be talking to the FSA and the EFSA about the changes in regulations.

Smart CBD’s Viewpoint

Smart CBD’s position on this subject is that reclassifying cannabidiol as a ‘Novel Food’ would be catastrophic for the thousands of our customers who consume our CBD oil and other products for inflammation, aches and pains, and other ailments.

It is a fairly hypocritical venture, given the government’s own attitude towards medicinal cannabis oil, which it permits in the UK under controlled circumstances.

Although it is important to ensure ingestible substances are regulated, classifying CBD as a Novel Food makes very little sense, given the fact that until hemp was banned in 1928, it was a common agricultural product. In fact, during the reign of Henry VIII, it was compulsory to grow a quarter acre of hemp for every 60 acres under cultivation.

This was, of course, to meet the demand for hemp being used by the Royal Navy. These days, the demand comes from an active consumer base looking to substantiate a healthy lifestyle.

In conclusion, there is little clarity regarding the status of CBD within the UK right now. We will update this blog as events occur.

Last updated: 31st January 2019, 13:00