Posted: 11/12/2019

Cannabis trade body to challenge EU law on CBD foods


A cannabis business body will formally challenge an EU verdict that means food containing cannabidiol (CBD) requires specific authorisation to be sold in the UK.

The Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) – which represents specialist suppliers, producers and sellers – will submit an application under Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 seeking a fresh decision by a member state on whether CBD should be classed as a ‘novel food’ and require approval.

Independent retailers were recently warned, in FFD last month, to be cautious about stocking the growing number of food and drink items containing CBD because not a single product had been authorised for sale by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

This follows a note issued earlier this year by the EU classifying CBD as a ‘novel food’ because of a failure to prove a significant history of its consumption in Europe prior to May 1997. 

CTA chair Mike Harlington told FFD: “We went to Brussels in March and discussed the guidance. We are putting in a legal challenge, putting the onus on proving cannabis extracts are not novel.” 

During the 12-month consultation process related to the challenge, the CTA will also ask for a period of immunity from action against CBD products.

“We will go back to Brussels next year and request there be a suspension of the ruling on novel foods relating to cannabis extracts,” said Harlington. “Everything our members sell is fully compliant with food law, there is no safety issue.”

Harlington said he would be prepared to take the challenge further into both UK and European courts if unsuccessful the first time.

Meanwhile, a new trade body called the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) was launched at a conference held by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC). Designed to “help foster a legally compliant, socially responsible and innovative CBD industry”, the ACI aims to introduce a kitemark to appear on products authorised by the FSA.

CMC strategic director Steve Moore said: “At some stage the FSA will have to enforce the novel food ruling. We published a survey of consumers and half of the public don’t have confidence in CBD foods.  

“We have put in place the infrastructure that allows people to start the [novel food authorisation] application process. A condition of membership of the ACI is that you have to apply. There is no sustainable future for these products unless they are medicinal or a novel food.”

The FSA said CBD extracts were considered novel foods under food law and “we expect companies to comply with the novel foods process”. 

This story appeared in the December issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.

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