Great Britain rejects CBD as a narcotic, setting the stage for a fight

Sep 23, 2020

The United States isn’t the only country wavering on what to do with hemp-derived CBD. According to a report out in Hemp Industry Daily, the European Commission’s stance of hemp-derived CBD — they state it should be regulated as a narcotic —has been denied by Great Britain.

Head of the Novel Foods authorities at London’s Food Standards Agency, Paul Tossel, told HID that they don’t agree with this assessment, even though “British authorities continue to mirror requirements set out by the EU’s Novel Food Regulation and the European Food Safety Authority.”

Furthermore, according to Tossel, the European Commission’s CBD position isn’t one that the U.K.’s Home Office agrees with. The Home Office is a government department that oversees drug policy and law enforcement.

According to HID, unless currently sold CBD products have a validated novel food application, they’ll be removed from the market by next March.

“We will still regard CBD extracts as novel foods, and they will require (application) processing,” Tossel said, according to HID. “The application will have to prove there are no other narcotics in there.”

In July, CBD novel-food applicants were told by the Commission that “cannabidiol extracted from the flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant should be considered a narcotic,” according to HID. This is due to a United Nations treaty that’s over 50 years old.

Right now, consumers in the EU are looking at a total ban on hemp flower-derived CBD products should this position be held.

Moreover, everything is being complicated by the whole Brexit situation. While the UK officially left the EU on January 31, both sides continue to negotiate the separation, leaving many of the finer points up in the air at this time.

“Our timetable isn’t dependent on the EU one – we’re on the transition period, that means we can’t actually formally receive any applications until (after) December 31,” Tossel said, according to HID.

As of right now, the European Commission isn’t processing CBD novel food authorization applications. Instead, the organization is asking applicants to send comments, similar to how the DEA has asked folks in the US to comment on their new Interim Rule. They plan to issue a final stance sometime after the comment period is over, according to HID.

Tossel, according to HID, noted that “CBD food makers are supposed to follow the Novel Food Regulation and the authorization process before stocking their products at U.K. retailers or in online shops.”

“No CBD product on the shelves is actually compliant with the legislation,” he told the site.

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