Cannabis trade associations are preparing to stand up to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) over ‘ridiculous’ novel food regulations.
CBD companies have until March 31, 2021 to apply for ‘novel food’ status under guidance issued by the FSA.
The agency confirmed last month that all applications must include toxicology safety data and only products with this validation will be allowed on the market after the deadline.
But leading figures in the industry have warned that the regulations will force smaller companies out of business, with the cost of generating this data estimated to be between £300,000 and £1million.
Now Peter Reynolds of CannaPro, the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses, has revealed the organisation has taken legal advice and is prepared to take the FSA to court if any action is taken against its members.
He argues that as none of the brands are selling selective extracts of CBD they should not be required to apply for ‘novel food’ authorisation.
“Everybody who understands anything about the industry accepts that selective extracts [when some of the extracts, such as THC, are removed] are novel foods, because you are creating a product which wasn’t in general use years ago,” said Peter, who is also president of CLEAR, the UK campaign for cannabis law reform.
“All of our members sell non-selective extracts [when no attempt has been made to rebalance or change the proportions of the oil] and our legal advice is that those are not novel.”
He added: “At CannaPro we are not the only organisation to be lawyering up on the subject and we have written to the FSA making it clear that if they try to enforce the regulations against any of our members we will be taking legal action.”
Peter has accused the FSA of being ‘uncooperative’ and implementing regulations that are ‘based on no evidence at all’.
“There is no evidence of anyone coming to significant harm taking CBD food supplements,” he said.
“I do believe that it is all in the interests of big business. The pharmaceutical industry has realised that it missed out on the CBD market and now it wants it’s share – or rather the whole thing.”
With less than six months to go, he expects to see the market split into two following the deadline next year, with one half regarded as ‘legitimate’ by the FSA and the other made up of companies happy to exist in a so-called ‘grey area’.
“I think we will see less than half a dozen big producers creating isolate-based or selective extract-based products, supplying oil to much smaller companies,” he said.
“Brands have either got to stand up to them – which is a risk and we accept that there probably will be some confrontation – give up, or bow down and get your supplies from a large organisation, so big business has won.
“But if the FSA thinks that everybody is suddenly going to close down they couldn’t be more wrong.”
Cannabis Health contacted the FSA for comment but was told all the information and guidance was available at: www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/cannabidiol-cbd
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