‘Pause’ on CBD novel food applications – David Hardstaff and John Binns write for Open Access Government

‘Pause’ on CBD novel food applications – David Hardstaff and John Binns write for Open Access Government

BCL partner John Binns and Associate David Hardstaff write for Open Access Government discussing the European Commission’s ‘pause’ on CBD novel food applications and what this means for this booming industry.

Here’s an extract from the article:

The global cannabis industry can be broadly divided into three categories – the first and second of which are medicinal and recreational, and the third being a ‘middle’ category of products that are associated with wellness and lifestyle. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is almost solely responsible for the exponential growth of the middle category in recent years.

CBD is one of the 144 identified cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its more controversial sibling, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is generally not considered to be intoxicating or to have a psychoactive effect, and there is no evidence of risk to health through moderate use.

CBD’s regulatory status

In the UK, as in most countries, CBD is not classified as a controlled drug (unless the product also contains measurable THC or cannabis flower). That does not mean that it is not regulated, however: increasingly found in a wide range of consumer goods, CBD products potentially fall under a range of regulatory systems, including as medicines and cosmetics, but more commonly, as foodstuffs.

It is probably as a much-lauded food supplement that most people will have read about CBD in recent years. In the EU, however, that industry was dealt a damaging blow in January 2019, when it was announced that CBD would be added to the European Commission’s ‘novel food catalogue’ (with the effect, broadly speaking, that authorisation would be required for products containing it to be sold within the EU).

‘Novel food’ status in the UK

At the time, there was widespread concern throughout CBD and industrial hemp communities that regulation as a novel food would stifle the industry. In the UK, despite Brexit looming, the UK Food Standards Agency set a deadline of 31 March 2021 for businesses to provide more information about CBD products and their contents. After this date, only products which have submitted a valid novel food authorisation application will be allowed to remain on the market; or at least, that was the case until July of this year.


This article was originally published by Open Access Government on 13/08/2020. You can read the full version on their site.

John Binns is a specialist in proceeds of crime laws, cannabis regulation, sanctions, and tax investigations. He has extensive experience in financial crime, which also involves bribery and corruption, extradition, Interpol, fraud, market abuse, and the conduct of related civil proceedings. He is a prolific writer and speaker on a variety of topics.

David Hardstaff is an associate solicitor at BCL specialising in criminal and regulatory law. He advises individuals and companies in relation to controlled drug licensing and AML/Proceeds of Crime considerations in the context of the domestic and international cannabis market. He has particular experience in advising and representing individuals accused of sexual offences, drugs offences and offences involving violence. He is an experienced police station representative and advocate and represents clients in a broad range of proceedings at the Magistrates’ Court, Crown Court and Court of Appeal.