Following two years of cooperation between the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), FSA on 31 March released a public list of cannabinoid products permitted for sale to consumers. Publication of the list is an important step toward full authorization, now expected in 2023, according to ACI, the UK’s cannabinoid trade body. Only listed cannabinoid products are permitted to stay on the UK market, in line with the government’s Novel Food requirements.
In a statement, Steve Moore, ACI founder, commented: “The FSA public list represents a major milestone for the UK’s CBD category. 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.”
In a year-long Novel Food assessment process, the FSA reviewed applications for cannabinoid products for oral consumption that had been on sale in the UK on or before 13 February 2020. Products launched after that date, or which were not subject to a dossier submitted by the cut-off date of 31 March 2021, may not now be sold until full authorisation is granted. ACI was actively involved in the process, creating a scientific-based consortium of members to submit a ‘super dossier,’ which was lodged with the FSA in February 2021, helping members’ products be placed on the list. Moore said: “We are hugely proud that, through our consortium study, all members of the ACI have been included on the FSA’s public list, therefore earning the right to continue to be sold within the UK.”
The FSA list covers products sold in England and Wales; products on sale north of the border are subject to a separate authorisation process managed by Food Standards Scotland. In Northern Ireland, meanwhile, companies must continue to adhere to EU Novel Food rules and procedures as a result of Brexit protocols. Products designed to be inhaled, such as vapes, or applied to the skin, including cosmetics and massage oils, do not fall under the FSA’s remit. These were not assessed and will not appear on the list.
The UK market for consumer cannabinoid products was worth £690 million in 2021, according to ACI estimates—more than double the level of sales recorded in 2019, when the market was valued at £314 million.
Now, the ACI is working in tandem with Trading Standards to enforce the new rules immediately; the association has launched a website at UKCBDList.com to serve as a reference point, allowing any business selling cannabinoid products to check whether the items they are selling are compliant. In addition, Moore said the group was interested in supporting businesses with products that are not included on the FSA list. “At this moment in time, we understand that, for some CBD businesses, the news will not be positive, and we openly invite those businesses to contact us at ACI to understand their next steps within this fledgling and rapidly growing market,” Moore stated. “We are here to support this industry and its community to thrive.”