Is CBD Legal in the UK?

The status of CBD for use as a food ingredient or food supplement was thrown into question last month, after the EC (European Commission) suggested the reclassification of CBD as a Novel Food.

What is a ‘Novel Food’?

To be classified as a novel food means there is no evidence of its use as a food or food supplement before 15th May 1997. This has led the media to ask the question – is CBD legal in UK countries now? CBD remains legal, as it is up to each individual state to decide how to enforce EC and EFSA (European Food Standard Agency) guidance and to determine whether a particular product is novel or not. In recent times, other popular super foods and health supplements have been subjected to the same scrutiny such as chia seeds and krill fish oil, to be reclassified as a novel food.

Novel or Traditional?

The European Industrial Hemp Association has reiterated its position, stating that “Hemp extracts and tinctures were indeed made and sold in products, which would nowadays be supplements”, up to 80 years ago. Hemp flowers used for the production of beer-like beverages have been recognized as food ingredients by the European commission since 1998.” This would mean CBD is a Traditional, not Novel, food.

However, according to the EC’s Novel Food catalogue entry for cannabidoids on their website, “Without prejudice to the information provided in the novel food catalogue for the entry relating to Cannabis sativa L., 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). This also applies to extracts of other plants containing cannabinoids. Synthetically obtained cannabinoids are considered as novel.

“Before it may be placed on the market in the EU as a food or food ingredient a safety assessment under the Novel Food Regulation is required.”

This new regulation comes after reports that the UK, The Netherlands, France, Italy and Germany have requested clarification, citing concerns about the ambiguity of regulations.

The Health Food Manufacturers Association are lobbying this ruling and stated that there has been inappropriate consultation on this matter to date.

The future of CBD use

Although there is concern about this latest challenge, if reclassified as a Novel Food by the EFSA (European Food Standards Agency), we still have to wait and see what the UK equivalent the FSA will decide post-Brexit. It may only effect certain CBD products that have extracted the cannabinoids using a particular method, or only CBD isolate products. At Amma Life we do not sell CBD derived from isolates, as we have always understood that whole plant is best. It can take between 6-18 months to gain a license for the sale of a Novel Food and this is where the uncertainty remains.

We will keep you up to date with the latest information as it develops.

A decision by the EFSA will be made later this month (March). We will be supporting the EIHA, CTA (Cannabis Trade Association) and Health Food Manufacturer’s Association to challenge the new regulation. We know they are working hard to ensure that the CBD industry can continue to flourish and only sells legal, high quality products that are safe for the consumer.