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

Hempen Hemp Field

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

What’s going on with UK CBD?

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

Stricter THC Level

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.

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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