Test tube containing CBD oil in lab with cannabis leaves in background

Source: GettyImages-1359105041

When stocking orally consumed cannabinoid (CBD) lines, such as CBD oils, gummies and soft drinks, retailers in England and Wales must now refer to the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) newly released public list of CBD products permitted for sale to consumers. 

The publication of the list – a key stage on the path to full authorisation, expected in 2023 – follows two years of close co-operation between the FSA and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), the UK’s CBD sector trade body.

ACI has launched a new website – www.UKCBDList.com – to serve as a reference point enabling consumers, retailers, health practitioners and enforcement authorities to verify whether a product is being sold legally. The onus is now on convenience retailers to remove products from sale that don’t feature on the list. The ACI is working in tandem with Trading Standards to enforce the new rules immediately, with any company offering unlisted CBD products for sale facing possible action by its officers. 

CBD products on the FSA list have been undergoing assessment by the agency in a long and rigorous Novel Food process. This was open to any CBD product designed for oral consumption that was on sale in the UK on or before 13 February 2020, with the deadline for applications set at 31 March 2021. Any product launched after 13 February 2020, or which was not the subject of a dossier submitted by the cut-off date, may not now be sold until full authorisation is granted.

ACI has spearheaded the CBD industry’s response to the application process from the outset. In September 2020, it created a scientific-based consortium of members to submit a ‘super-dossier’ on their behalf. This was lodged with the FSA in February 2021, and has been vital in helping members’ products be placed on the public list. These products will, therefore, remain on the market as they progress towards validation and then authorisation. ACI has concluded the live phase of the OECD toxicology study required to validate dossiers. Data analysis is expected to be completed in June.

Steve Moore, ACI founder, said: “The FSA public list represents a major milestone for the UK’s CBD category. It demonstrates the progress the sector has made to meet compliance requirements and creates greater regulatory certainty which, in turn, will increase levels of consumer trust, encourage investment in the sector, and promote innovation. ACI is immensely grateful for the work that our members and the FSA have put in to take this momentous step.”  

CBD brand Love Hemp, which produces oils, capsules and edibles, is included on the list. Adam Pritchard, chief commercial officer, said: “The CBD industry in the UK has been largely unregulated, resulting in a lack of clarity for our consumers, and we welcome progress made to date by the FSA. We continue to work closely with the FSA and look forward to the next stage of the process, proceeding to validation followed by full approvals.”

Naturecan, which produces CBD oil and gummies, is also on the list. Co-founder Paul Finnegan said: “This really is the start of this blossoming industry and it means consumers can not only trust the quality of the product they buy, but also the reassurance that it will remain on the UK market.”  

The FSA list covers products sold in England and Wales. CBD products on sale north of the border are subject to a separate authorisation process managed by Food Standards Scotland. In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, companies must continue to adhere to EU Novel Food rules and procedures as a result of Brexit protocols.

Products designed to be inhaled, such as vapes, or applied to the skin, including cosmetics and massage oils, do not fall under the FSA’s remit. These were not assessed and will not appear on the list.

The UK’s market for consumer CBD products was worth £690m in 2021, according to ACI estimates – more than double the level of sales recorded in 2019, when the market was valued at £314m (Navigant/Dynata).The UK is now the world’s second largest market for consumer CBD, behind only the US.