A Cumbrian CBD brand says new regulations threaten to deny people access to a ‘life-changing’ food supplement which has been shown to help tackle a range of physical and mental health issues.
As of the 31st March 2021 the government will be implementing new regulations for the food supplement Cannabidiol (more commonly referred to as CBD) under EU Novel Food legislation. Products that come under this legislation are “Foods that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15th May 1997” EC.Europa.EU – official novel foods website)
The new rules will mean CBD suppliers like West Lakes Hemp, which is based in Cleator Moor will have to obtain a license to sell the products. Studies have linked CBD to many mental and physical health benefits, with a study last year at the University of Calgary, in Canada, even suggesting CBD users are 70 per cent less likely to contract Covid-19.
Nic Hewitt from West Lakes Hemp said: “We’ve worked tirelessly for three years making sure we source the very best quality products for our customers. We are part of a large collective of manufacturers, wholesalers, resellers, industry experts and trade associations who all voluntarily self-regulate ourselves for the good of the industry and, more importantly, the customer. Our suppliers provide full traceability for all products, allowing them to be traced from seed to shelf.
“While applying for a novel foods license is free, the testing that comes with it is quite costly – up to £80,000 – and can take up to 24 months to be approved, potentially longer due to COVID. The cost involved and slow turnaround is enough to essentially price small businesses like us out of the market.
“That does appear to be the ultimate goal. With the Home Office’s recent decision to consider full spectrum oils as controlled drugs, coupled with GW Pharmaceuticals being the only company with a CBD product that has been FDA-approved, it looks like the market is swaying ever more obviously towards big business.”
In 2017 the World Health Organisation said: “CBD does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm” and officially recommended CBD should not be “internationally scheduled as a controlled substance”.
Over the last two years the Food Standards Agency has been presented with evidence from various industry trade associations showing that cannabis food consumption stretches back as far as 1000 BC. Their dispute, however, does not concern itself solely with cannabis in food, but more the preparation and extraction methods used to make the food. The most popular and effective type of CBD oil to consume is ‘full spectrum’ oil which is extracted using the CO2 extraction method in the same way that herbs, spices, dairy and essential oils are extracted. CO2 extraction is considered the safest way to extract food for human consumption.
The decision to label CBD as a novel food back in 2017 originally ignored CO2-based extractions and focussed solely on CBD isolates as they come in powder form and are far removed from a full plant extract.
The Home Office’s recent decision to class all products containing trace amounts of controlled cannabinoids illegal renders all full spectrum oils illegal. The impact of this will affect the efficacy of the CBD products on the market as the only legal CBD products available after 31st March 2021 will be inferior CBD isolates from companies that have obtained expensive novel food licenses.
Nic began using CBD herself after she was left jobless, homeless and on the verge of suicide following the devastating Storm Desmond floods which struck Cumbria in 2015.
She said: “CBD has been deemed safe by the World Health organisation and CO2 extraction has been used for decades. The Novel Foods regulation of CBD is based on a flimsy technicality. I have used CBD for nearly four years and it really is a life-or-death situation for me, without it I probably wouldn’t be here and I, along with the rest of smaller CBD companies, intend to fight for our right to consume these products that, speaking from experience, can literally save lives. These new regulations make us feel extremely anxious and woefully let down.”
There are now an estimated six million users of CBD in the UK, many of them swapping long lists of various prescribed medications for the therapeutic full spectrum oils. UK retailers such as Boots, and Holland and Barrett now stock CBD based products from capsules right up to cosmetics.
Co-owner of West Lakes Hemp, Luke Woodend, said: “We got into this industry purely because of the success we’d found using full spectrum oils ourselves. We’ve tried the isolate-based alternatives and you develop a tolerance to them quite quickly, rendering them useless after a while. Our customers report positive life-changing experiences with full spectrum CBD oils and our government are working very hard to put a stop to this.
Taking these products off the market will directly compromise the health and wellbeing of people that have found effective relief from CBD oils. The pressure this will place on our already-overstretched NHS will be crippling, especially with an ongoing pandemic in effect. It must be noted that CBD use has soared since the pandemic started last year with people more health conscious than ever.”