CBD producers in the United Kingdom have been given an ultimatum if their products are to remain on the market.
The UK’s Food Safety Agency has said CBD products will be taken off shelves next year if they do not successfully undergo an approval process.
The FSA made the announcement last week alongside new usage recommendations.
It comes at a time when nations including the US, Canada, and Australia are still reviewing CBD safety and are yet to release a full set of regulations.
CBD companies in the UK have until March 31, 2021, to apply for safety evaluations – and those who miss the deadline will not be allowed to remain on the market.
The FSA has said the authorization process ‘ensures novel foods meet legal standards, including on safety and content’, and added that it was forced to introduce a deadline after CBD manufacturers were slow to submit their products.
It has also advised healthy adults to take no more than 70mg of CBD a day, which equates to around 28 drops of 5% strength oil. Those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any other medication have been advised to avoid CBD altogether.
The new measures have been introduced following recent findings by the government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT), although it has said it still does not know enough to be sure there are health risks involved with taking CBD.
In a press release, chief executive of the FSA Emily Miles said: “CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorized. The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products to the regulator before 31 March 2021, or the products will be taken off the shelves.
“Also today, we are advising that CBD could be risky for vulnerable groups, and suggesting an upper limit of 70mg a day for everyone else taking the product.”
Until the deadline next year, all CBD products can remain on UK shelves, providing they are correctly labeled, safe to eat, and do not contain anything that falls under drug legislation.
The rules do not apply to cosmetics, vapes, products making medicinal claims, and products containing THC or controlled drugs, which are monitored under separate boards.
Although CBD producers should not make health claims, many users have said quality cannabidiol has helped them cope with pain, inflammation, stress, depression, and even skin problems.
The COT’s report was based on research data from the study of CBD drug Epidiolex, which is only US FDA-approved CBD product. The drug works to treat two very rare forms of epilepsy.
Chair of the COT professor Alan Boobis added the organization will continue to keep CBD under review.
He said: “My committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and found evidence there are potential adverse health effects from the consumption of these products. We are particularly concerned about pregnant or breast-feeding women and people on medication.
“We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking.”
The UK has yet to approve any CBD products currently on the market.
Miles concluded: “The actions that we’re taking today are a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice. It’s now up to the industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is.”
The FSA’s advice covered only England, Wales, and Northern Ireland; Scotland is covered by a separate regulator.