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Novel Foods in full force

UK CBD law is changing…

If you’ve been following our updates, you’ll probably know by now that the entire UK CBD industry has been waiting to find out how the new Novel Foods legislation will affect your favourite products.

This legislation came into effect on the 31st March 2021.

As of the 1st April, we are no longer allowed to sell our CBD Oils as ingestible products, food or food supplements.

To explain the situation, here is a message from Zena, our Production Coordinator and regulation compliance extraordinaire…

Novel Foods applies to new foods. This is usually applied to processed foods or foods that have not been eaten by humans in the UK or European area before 1997.

From the 1st April, all of our CBD products are going to be sold as cosmetics. This is because the EU and UK Food Standards Agency have listed CBD Oil as a Novel Food.

This means that as a cosmetic rather than a food, we can only instruct and advertise our CBD products as cosmetics.

Things will be a bit different on our website. The CBD Oils will be cosmetics rather than food supplements.

Despite all these challenges, our CBD Oils are still the high quality, organic and ethically produced hemp extracts you know and love!

As ever, if you have any questions or concerns, give us a call or drop us an email.

For the most up to date news, follow our social channels on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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David and Goliath: What’s going on with CBD?!

What’s going on?

You’ve probably read some of our posts over the past year relating to the pending Novel Foods legislation.

This will come into effect from March 31st 2021. The entire UK CBD industry has been waiting with bated breath to find out what the ruling will be. There will be huge repercussions on the UK CBD and hemp market, for both producers and consumers.

It’s all pretty confusing so we wanted to wait until things were clearer before we updated you all.

Here’s a breakdown of the current situation:

NOVEL FOODS

Any food that hasn’t been consumed by humans before 1997 is classed as a ‘novel food’. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) wants these products to go through stringent testing before releasing them for consumption. 

“But surely hemp has been around for thousands of years?!”

Yes – check out this article documenting the many historical uses of hemp. There was even a CBD soup made for the Pope as far back as the 14th Century!

That’s why CBD with strengths up to 5% (around the same levels as the natural plant extract) shouldn’t even be classed as novel. But according to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), it is. 

There hasn’t been such clear documentation of higher strengths of CBD consumption pre-1997. So that part makes slightly more sense… But only slightly.

From 31st March 2021, any CBD supply for consumption has to be linked to a validated dossier with the FSA.

All our products are linked to submitted dossiers. Like the rest of the industry, we are waiting until the end of March to hear whether they have been accepted. No application is certain to be accepted, so the outcome is daunting for CBD companies across the industry. 

uk cbd legislation 2021

THC LIMITS

UK law currently permits 1mg THC per product – the limit for any controlled substance. The UK has tolerated open labelling of products as less than 0.2% THC (as defined by the level allowed for varieties of industrial hemp). 

In January 2021, the Minister of State for Crime and Policing – Kit Malthouse – proposed changing the THC levels to a proportion of the total volume rather than a fixed amount. As a concept, this makes sense because it means the limit of permitted THC would change depending on the size of the product. 

However, what makes far less sense is that the proposal was to:

EITHER increase the levels to 0.01%

… So for a 10ml product, 1mg would still be the limit but for a 300ml product it would be 30mg

OR decrease them to 0.0001%.

… This is basically impossible when working with natural plant extract.

What does that mean?

It means that with a 0.0001% limit, the only CBD permitted will be – astoundingly – synthetic isolate.

Synthetic CBD would not be derived from the hemp plant but developed in a laboratory. Synthesising different chemicals is the only way to guarantee absolutely no traces of THC are present.

Considering the current permitted levels of THC are trace at most, this ‘bombshell to the industry’ is unnecessarily strict, especially when the World Health Organisation’s position is that products with up to 0.2% THC pose no threat to human health… Never mind that synthetic isolate will have none of the health benefits of the whole plant extract, nor any of the environmental and agricultural benefits whilst producing it.

In February 2021, The Home Office stated that all businesses who import bulk CBD isolates or distillates must now secure a Schedule One Controlled-Drug Licence.

CBD has no negative side effects and can ease an astounding range of ailments. The plant itself does more good than any other crop that can be grown in this climate. 

Industrial hemp has very low levels (less than 0.2%) of THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. No matter how much industrial hemp you consume, you won’t get high.

So… Why are the rules changing?

UK CBD legislation is aligning to support the big players and crush the independents.

Under these new regulations, CBD will only be sourced from a small number of big suppliers. It will be limited to narrow spectrum (isolated CBD rather than full spectrum plant extract). 

We have seen countless examples of CBD helping people to live their lives freely in ways that were previously inconceivable.

Our hopes for the future of the UK hemp and CBD industry are not so far-fetched. We long for a regulated industry that places the wellbeing of its customers first, where farmers and UK businesses are consulted and welcomed in the debate. This industry could support farmers in doing what they do best, and genuinely promote the health and care so often claimed on the box.

uk cbd industry legislation

THE BOTTOM LINE

Hemp is a historic food. It should be free to be consumed to at least the natural levels of CBD (up to 5%) and THC (0.2% – 1%).

The novel foods process wilfully ignores this data. It is creating enormously expensive and unjustified barriers to a traditional healthy food. 

The proposed THC limits for CBD products are not evidence based and are highly destructive for the ethical development of the industrial hemp market.

These regulations are a betrayal of our heritage. They are a continuation of the coordinated demonisation and prohibition of the cannabis plant over the course of the last century. 

We demand that Industrial Hemp is removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act so that the whole plant can be freely grown and consumed. We also demand that the Novel Foods process is reassessed so that at the very minimum, whole plant extracts with natural cannabinoid thresholds can be sold and distributed on the open market.  

The Seed Our Future campaign have drafted a letter for concerned CBD users requesting answers regarding the government’s stance. We have also published our version of this letter below.

Please send it to your local MP, and feel free to adapt it as you wish.

We have complied with regulations so we could keep bringing you all the healthy alternative that we know is necessary for so many people. This legislation is a bare-faced attempt to stop us. We cannot let this happen.

Hempen Supporters letter

Hempen Letter

Seed Our Future Website

Seed Our Future Letter

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Another year, another licence

As many of you may remember, in July 2019 the licence here at Path Hill Farm to grow hemp was revoked by the Home Office, leading to the destruction of a crop worth £200k. We were faced with a decision: to grow or not to grow?

Since then, we have continued partnering with farmers across the UK to support hemp growers while we decided what would be the most effective solution to the issues we were facing.

As of last week, we have officially submitted our new application to grow hemp in our fields! It’s a very exciting moment in Hempen’s journey but we’re not celebrating just yet…

Why apply now?

Applications for licences are accepted from the beginning of January until the end of February. An answer does not have to be returned by the Home Office until the end of April, posing a significant problem to farmers planning their rotations for the year. 

In times of crisis, it is understandable to feel fear, judgement and anger. When faced with the most serious challenge to our business since we began, we chose to focus on solutions and worked to fulfil our mission to provide hemp solutions for the health of people, community and planet. 

Although our capacity to bring hemp products to our customers was threatened by the licence reversal, we believe in the power of community and collaboration to build resilience. Our belief may have been tested, but the results were clear: we’re so much better when we work together.

What’s been happening since the licence was revoked?

We connected with farmers across the UK who had an interest in growing hemp, supported them with their own licence applications and shared our industry knowledge and farming expertise to help them produce the best environmental impact and yields possible for their land and resources.

Our commitment to buy hemp seed and stalk harvests from them provided the stability of a return on investment, and we intend to develop new and existing partnerships regardless of the outcome of our current application.

More hemp was grown in the UK in the past year because we supported other farmers to grow it. That means more carbon was removed from the atmosphere, more nutrients returned to the soil and more ecological alternatives to outdated products were available for the health of our consumers. 

How have the processes at Hempen been affected?

To comply with UK law, we have been importing CBD from Europe, despite the significant financial and environmental costs involved compared with harvesting from the UK if that were possible. 

We have been diversifying our seed and fibre product range so that you – our incredible support network of volunteers and customers – continue to have access to UK-grown organic hemp products at a fair price.

With more seed and fibre products, we are less reliant on CBD, but to do this requires further investment. We are seeking additional finance to bring more of our processing in-house, to reduce our carbon footprint and create a production loop that is as local as possible.

Many hurdles remain for the UK and European hemp industry. All around the world, legislators are waking up to the potential of this booming industry. Hemp offers solutions to so many problems including the ecological crisis, job scarcity, food sovereignty and soil health. 

We are hopeful that our application to grow this most wonderful of plants will be accepted in time for us to plant this year’s crop. Our community continues to grow with more producers and industry partners each year. Show us your support for us by telling us why you think we deserve to be able to grow hemp here on the comments or on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

When life gives us lemons, we make lemonade…

When life gives us hemp, we make Hempen!

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Donate to our legal & campaign fees

Many of you have so generously asked how you can help, and whether you can donate to help us in our legal appeal and wider campaign to #saveUKCBD.

If you’re able to, any support would be gratefully received. Click here to make a donation.

Thank you in advance for any support we might receive. Your kindness is already enough. We’ll update with a campaign plan very soon.

For those who you who haven’t signed, there’s a petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/department-of-food-and-agriculture-change-the-hemp-license-hypocrisy