In one sense you could argue that the UK market has recently taken a step towards cannabis regulation, although this may not be as clear-cut as you’d expect..
Last week, a large number of CBD companies operating within the UK received this letter:
Of course, this has created a period of uncertainty for the CBD market which until now was completely unregulated with new companies, products, and delivery methods launching all the time.
Backlash towards the above letter has been strong, and this has led to a bit of confusion within the cannabis scene, as for years we have been preaching that decriminalisation isn’t enough, saying that we need a legal regulated market. In fact, it is one of the cornerstones of cannabis activism.
However, nobody wants to see big pharma take over, and some feel that this is what we are being led towards now with such strict 28-day deadlines for CBD compaines in the UK to cease trading products.
The Canary reports that a license could cost upwards of £103,000 to continue selling CBD products under new laws, although again, this is uncertain. But the CBD companies currently trading from the UK are undoubtedly worried about future costs to keep themselves in business.
Can we draw any positives from this?
While the Government has not straight-up admitted that the whole cannabis plant is medicine thus far, they have now made two important allowances which highlight the contradictory nature of cannabis prohibition in the UK:
- Sativex can be prescribed and GW Pharmaceutical can grow cannabis and research medicinal benefits/applications aka Cannabis is medicine, but not if you grow it.
- CBD (Cannabidiol) is classed as a medicine as it now has proven therapeutic qualities (in the eyes of the MRHA) while THC, another cannabinoid with proven therapeutic qualities remains illegal.
The first point is something that has (quite rightly) got on the back of many cannabis activists over the years, because GW are allowed a monopoly that is simply not fair, given special treatment with the only license to grow full-spectrum cannabis.
The second – and now hotly debated topic – is that CBD is now seen as a medicine by the MRHA here in the UK.
For those of you who don’t know, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an executive agency of the Department of Health in the United Kingdom which is responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe. (Source: wikipedia)
Statement from MRHA about CBD:
“We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are a medicine. Products for therapeutic use must have a medicines’ licence before they can be legally sold or supplied in the UK. Products will have to meet safety, quality and effectiveness standards to protect public health.
“If you use CBD and if you have any questions, speak to your GP or other healthcare professional.
“We have written to UK CBD stockists and manufacturers to inform them of our view. These products will require a marketing authorisation to be granted before they can be legally sold, supplied or anywhere advertised in the UK.
“We can provide regulatory guidance to any company who may wish to apply for a licence.”
It is still too early to know what is going to happen for the CBD market here in the UK, but some people are really worried about getting their medicine from next month.
So what does this mean for me as a consumer? Will I still have access to my medicine?
Until now CBD could be sold legally in the UK as long as companies didn’t make medicinal claims. After this notice it looks like CBD companies will have to apply for a license to market and sell their cbd products legally in the UK moving forward.
Unfortunately we are in a period of uncertainty with the whole thing, and any advice will come off the back off speculation of where the CBD market may be heading in the UK.
This is due to many factors, including the fact that many CBD companies are based offshore and therefore could potentially still legally ship their products.
However, while it is likely that the CBD market will shrink as a result of this regulation, you would hope as a consumer that quality products will still be available – after all, they are saying medicine – not prescription medicine.
Whether this will cause price hikes or lead to a monopoly remains to be seen…
One well-established CBD company, CBD Brothers, recently released this statement, urging their customers to stay calm and saying that supply should continue:
Hello everybody, we have some important news to tell you… this week the MHRA reclassified CBD as a medicine, this means it is considered to have medicinal value and as such will be given the same status as other mainstream medicines, it will also mean there is more regulation within the industry, something we know the UK Cannabis industry is in desperate need of plus the recognition of cannabis as having medicinal properties is a big step in the right direction.
What does this mean for you?
Hopefully it will give you better access to licensed products that are fully tested and conform to a standard set by the MHRA (So no more substandard products)
A safer understanding of the oils – this is is a biggie for us as we love to give advise but as you know have been told off by the MHRA for being too helpful and sharing too much information, with official classification we will again be able to offer advise and publicly compare notes and treatment plans
What does this mean for CBD Brothers?
Although helping people for years before the company was official in June 2014 and was done so with eyes wide open, from day one we have had obstacles and hurdles put in our way and we have have maneuvered past each and every one.
The truth is we anticipated this reclassification after our first interaction with the MHRA a few months back so we made preparations to continue to provide you with the MEDICINE you know and trust.
Now this is the complicated bit, All CBD companies in the UK have been ordered to cease trading by the end of October, so this means that you will no longer be able to buy CBD from within the UK unless the product is licensed by the MHRA. Again having the foresight we are well into the process of applying for the license and as soon as the MHRA have worked out the final details of the reclassification we will be ready to go.
So where will I get my oil from in the meantime?
As we said we anticipated this and although the timescale caught us off guard we have been making preparations to expand into Europe and are well on the way to setting up office and laboratory in one of the sunnier parts where we are registered to trade and have all the legal requirements, delivery may take longer (up to 3-5 days) but we will continue to offer the same high quality products as before.
On a personal note we feel blessed to be able to help so many of you, through the good and sad times we are always overwhelmed by the the support that has been shown to us in times of need and hope that this support will continue whilst we make this transition and we will do everything in our power to cause you minimal disruption.
With love, thank you
High street retailer Holland And Barrett are still stocking CBD oil at the present, as we found out yesterday when we asked in their Stratford store.
We will continue to update you on the CBD market here in the UK as we learn more about the situation.
Read more here on the UKCSC website: “Breaking News: MRHA “CBD Products To Be Removed From Sale in UK”
If you’re worried about the future of the UK CBD market you can sign this petition run by the United Kingdom Cannabis Social Clubs to stop the MRHA removing products from sale in 28 days here.
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