Some of you may have heard about new rules coming into place for CBD in the UK on the 31st March 2021 relating to novel food. In this guide, we are going to go through what you need to know about the changes and how it affects you.
There is a lot of confusion about the new rules coming into place and what they mean, how they will be enforced and if they will be enforced. Until after the date we will not truly know how much the changes will affect the industry. What we can do is prepare for what the rules say will need to happen so we know what to look out for and what products are legal after the 31st March 2021.
Although these are new rules, there was never actually any rules beforehand. It is part of the reason we started Hempanion, to provide a place that anyone can learn the science-based facts about CBD and compare/buy trustworthy brands of CBD. We want to combat unsafe CBD and misinformation around CBD.
So lets get into what novel foods is and how it will affect CBD.
What is the change that is happening to CBD in 2021?
On the 31st of March, CBD products are being reclassified as a ‘Novel Food’. What this means is that it has to go through an application process to become registered and legal to sell as CBD in the UK.
This is a process that brands have to do to get certified as a novel food and stay compliant. The general public does not need to do anything relating to the changes, you may just notice some things which we will explain all about below.
Why is CBD being Reclassified as a novel food?
The reason CBD is being reclassified as opposed to hemp-based products is a matter of history. Any food-based or ingestible product that was used a lot before May 1997 is exempt from being classified as a novel food because it has historical uses. This is the case for a lot of herbal remedies and solutions that have been used for hundreds or thousands of years so there is less basis to be able to suddenly regulate them.
Hemp and related products, such as hemp oil(See the difference between CBD oil and Hemp oil) are not novel because there is evidence to show a history of consumption before May 1997. This is not the case for CBD extracts.
There is supposedly little evidence to prove that cannabis extracts like CBD and other cannabinoids that are extracted from the cannabis plant were used in this wat before 1997. That is why now it is able to be classed as a novel food.
CBD was confirmed as a novel food product in January 2019. Under the novel food regulations, foods or food ingredients which do not have a history of consumption before May 1997 must be evaluated and authorised by the food safety regulator(FSA) before they can be placed on the market.
The FSA is responsible for regulating CBD as a novel food. This does not include cosmetics, vapes, products making medicinal claims or products containing controlled drugs such as THC.FSA Website
Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said:
‘CBD products have been widely available on the high street for some time, but we think it is really important that people who choose to buy CBD products know that they are being checked for safety.
‘In February 2020, we asked the CBD industry to provide more information about the safety and contents of these products. Many novel food applications have already been received but we know there are more to come. With the deadline fast approaching, I would encourage all businesses to submit their applications in good time.
‘From 1 April 2021, businesses will be advised to remove products which do not meet the criteria from sale.’
Will I still be able to buy CBD after the 31st March?
Yes, you will still be able to buy CBD from the 1st April 2021, It may just change a little. First of all, this will only affect CBD like Edibles and Oils. CBD vape products, topicals and cosmetics will not be affected by this change.
Full-spectrum oils may be affected but we are keeping in close touch with the brands we sell about their status in the Novel foods application for each of their products.
All Novel food registerd CBD such as the Provacan Gold will be still just as available as always.
Is the Novel foods regulation a good thing for CBD?
There is currently still a lot of confusion about the true effects of the rule changes but the general feeling is that it will be a good thing for the industry and consumers in the long term. This is because regulation will help standardise CBD products and help control dangerous CBD products.
In the short term, however, time will tell. It may be that products are taken off shelves, smaller brands that cannot afford to get the approval in time will not be able to sell their products and stores may be left with CBD they cannot sell.
Due to the confusion and slow responses from the FSA, there may be some applications that do not go through in time despite the best efforts of the brand and legitimacy of the product. This may mean the product is temporarily not available.
A large concern for the novel foods regulation is that it does not regulate anything containing THC. Here is a quote from the FSA Website:
The FSA is responsible for regulating CBD as a novel food. This does not include cosmetics, vapes, products making medicinal claims or products containing controlled drugs such as THC.
This means that full-spectrum oils that in the UK previously were ok to have less than 0.2% THC now could fall under the misuse of drugs act. This is unlikely to be a problem for any consumers legally but for brands, it is very confusing and we are concerned that some people who like to make use of the full entourage effect by using full-spectrum oils containing all the cannabinoids including THC, may have some difficulties.
Only time will tell though and we will update this as more unfolds.
Is all CBD safe after the deadline in the UK?
We would love to say that all CBD will be safe in the UK after the deadline but unfortunately, this will not be the case. Like any industry, there are scammers about and they are not going to stop because of some new rules. CBD is also fairly easy to dilute, or use cheap and substandard products that pass off as better quality products. This means that scammers will try to sell you knock off or even dangerous CBD Oils.
Be just as wary as you would have been before and always buy CBD from a trusted CBD Shop.
How do I know the CBD is safe to use?
Even though there are new regulations coming into force, it is vitally important that you still follow our guidelines on how to find quality CBD in the UK. All the brands have on Hempanion have been vetted by us in an impartial way. We can do this because we do not make our own CBD, just audit CBD brands in the UK and once passed we buy only direct from the manufacturer so we know it is legitimate.
We check each product for its quality via lab tests but we also check the brand for other factors such as its price, commitment to quality, longevity, sustainability and general ethos.
So the best way to be sure you are getting quality CBD in the UK is by purchasing CBD from Hempanion of course! But if you do not want to do that then make sure you follow the steps of how to avoid fake CBD in the UK.
CBD Novel Foods Regulation in the UK conclusion
We will be keeping a close eye on things in the next few months and will keep this article updated along with other posts on the subject. If you have any questions then get in touch with Hempanion and we will be happy to help.
The rules will change but there a still a lot of things unclear. What you can be sure of is that all products on Hempanion are and always will be safe and legal in the UK.