Cannabis Trades Association: The UK should keep CBD products on shelves

A campaign is underway to prevent the Foods Standards Agency to attempt to enforce any move against the CBD industry

The Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) has decided to launch a systematic campaign of political and media engagement to keep the pressure on the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) not to attempt to enforce any move against the CBD industry based on the "Novel Foods" issue. "Any such enforcement could hit millions of consumers who regularly use CBD products," the CTA said.

The Association received confirmation from the FSA that there are currently no plans for CBD products to be withdrawn from sale. However, concerns remain as the UK authority is maintaining its view that CBD products meet the criteria of "Novel Foods".

“The FSA has no current plans to immediately withdraw CBD products from the shelves but retains the right to change this stance if new evidence is produced that concludes CBD is not safe, or for any other relevant reason," Michael Wight, Deputy Director, Head of Food Safety Policy at the FSA, explained in a letter to CTA dated 15th of January 2020.

"It seems clear to us from our direct communication with the FSA, and from correspondence between them and other interested parties shown to us, that they acknowledge that the information available does not suggest any significant safety concerns related to CBD products," Mike Harlington, CTA Chairman, commented. "I believe that this should be a source of some reassurance to the members of our trade association and the industry as a whole," he added.

Novel Food Catalogue

Harlington cautioned that while the FSA believes that CBD products meet the definition of "Novel Foods", the trade organisation disagrees with the UK authority and will continue to challenge its position.

"In any event, we have received legal advice that the EU ruling on this issue has effectively left the decision about whether or not to enforce with the individual states across the EU," Harlington explained.

Harlington also pointed out that currently, there is a mixed picture of how this is being handled across the Union. As an example, in Germany, the approach seems to be strict, but Courts have decided that the Commission’s Novel Food Catalogue is only a guide.

Now that the UK has left the EU, the CTA hopes will give even greater freedom to the UK authorities on how to interpret the situation.

"CBD products are used by millions of consumers across the country on a daily basis. They simply wouldn’t use them if they didn’t think it helped their quality of life," Harlington said.

The CTA Chairman said the organisation is committed to making sure that the CBD industry operates to the highest standards. "Politicians and regulators need to understand the importance of these products to individual consumers and the importance of a vibrant and successful CBD industry to the UK economy. Enforcing the provisions of Novel Foods would be a draconian move and be a devastating blow for millions of UK consumers. For that reason, the Association is launching an intensive and systematic programme of lobbying on this issue," Harlington concluded.

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