LONDON— The United Kingdom has moved quicker than the United States on regulating cannabinoid (CBD) in foods, beverages and dietary supplements. The UK’s Food Standards Agency on March 31 published a list of CBD products permitted for sale to consumers while the FSA begins a full risk assessment of the products.
The list covers products sold in England and Wales. CBD products sold north of the border are subject to a separate authorization process managed by Food Standards Scotland. Companies in Northern Ireland must follow European Union Novel Food rules and procedures because of Brexit protocols.
The US Food and Drug Administration does not allow CBD, a hemp extract, in foods, beverages and dietary supplements since it is in Epidiolex, an FDA-approved drug.
More than 3,500 products are on the FSA list. They include coffee, carbonated beverages, brownies, cookies and popcorn as well as oil sprays and drops, tinctures, gummy bears, capsules, and post-workout powders. Before the list was published, no CBD products were authorized for sale in the United Kingdom.
“We have created the public list to help local authorities and retailers prioritize products to be removed from sale,” said Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA. “If a product is not on the list, it should be removed from sale because it is not attached to a credible application to us for market authorization, but being on the list means that the application is credible and the FSA has, or is shortly expecting to receive, significant scientific evidence from the applicant with which to judge safety.”
The United Kingdom is the world’s second largest market for consumer CBD behind the United States, according to the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), a UK trade body for the CBD sector. The UK market was worth £690 million ($906 million) in 2021, more than double £341 million in 2019, according to estimates from the ACI.
“The FSA public list represents a major milestone for the UK’s CBD category,” said Steve Moore, founder of the ACI. “It demonstrates the progress the sector has made to meet compliance requirements and creates greater regulatory certainty which, in turn, will increase levels of consumer trust, encourage investment in the sector, and promote innovation. ACI is immensely grateful for the work that our members and the FSA have put in to take this momentous step.”
The FSA assessed the CBD products on the list through a Novel Food process open to any CBD product designed for oral consumption that was on sale in the United Kingdom on or before Feb. 13, 2020. Any product launched after that date and any product not the subject of a dossier submitted by the March 31, 2021, deadline may not be sold until full authorization is granted.
The ACI in September 2020 created a scientific-based consortium of members to submit a “super-dossier,” which was lodged with the FSA in February 2021. The ACI has launched a website at www.UKCBDList.com to allow consumers, retailers, health practitioners and enforcement authorities to verify whether a product is being sold legally.