The Regulatory Landscape of CBD in Europe

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Europe (Parliament Politic Magazine) –  The UK and EU have rules about new types of food, but they do things differently. In the EU, when someone wants to sell a new food, they ask the EU Commission for permission. It can take about 9 months to get this permission. They don’t need to test the food more. But gathering the information to ask for permission is expensive, costing a lot of money.

Even if they get permission, there might still be things they don’t know about the food’s safety. They might need to do tests that can take many years. Also, a group called EFSA checks and says it’s okay. These tests are costly, and groups estimate it could cost around €3.5 million.

EU Regulatory Environment

The group called EFSA looks at new foods and their safety. They’ve received 19 requests to approve CBD as a new food. The head of EFSA’s group, Professor Dominic Turk, says there are risks with CBD, and they need more information before deciding. But he says they haven’t decided it’s unsafe.

In food and drug reviews, the one who wants to sell the food needs to prove it’s safe. EFSA is very important in Europe for this. They first tested the food on animals, then on people, which costs a lot of money.

Right now, EFSA isn’t happy with the applications they got for CBD. They want more details about how CBD affects the liver, stomach, hormones, nerves, mental health, and reproduction. In 2019, a group called EIHA made a company in Germany to gather money for the application and tests. They applied for CBD in 2022 and more information will come in 2023. They will also test synthetic CBD. They need to do tests to make sure CBD is safe to eat.

They will give EFSA all the information in September, and EFSA will check it. If EFSA needs more details, they’ll ask for them. EFSA will have 9 months to do this and then tell the EU Commission. The group expects everything to be done by 2024.

UK Regulatory Approach

For another type of CBD called full-spectrum, tests will be ready in 2023, and EFSA will finish checking in 2024. Full-spectrum has a bit of THC, and this is tricky. They want to know how much THC people can have without problems. This research is new and important for THC and future laws. It will cost a lot of money too.

In the UK, CBD products are regulated differently from the European Union (EU), and this has both good and not-so-good sides. The reason the CBD market in the UK has done well is because the government agency called the FSA has allowed products that were on the market before February 13, 2020, and applied for approval before March 31, 2021.

These approved products can be sold. Many companies applied, but some were rejected because they didn’t meet the requirements. About 11,000 products worth £1 billion are waiting for final approval while the FSA checks their safety. Only 400 products were selected from the list, but none have been approved yet. Reports about their safety are needed, but we don’t know how many companies can provide them.

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Growing CBD Market in the US

If the UK approves a product, it might not be accepted in the EU due to Brexit. But if the EU approves a product, it can still be sold in the UK. Despite challenges, UK CBD businesses are trying to meet the rules to keep their market worth £1 billion. This also helps keep customers safe.

The situation is different in the EU. The EU market is smaller compared to the UK. Their approach slows down growth, unlike the UK with strong rules for new foods. The EU and UK markets don’t look great right now, but the EU market could be big in the future if they approve CBD products.

The United States has an exciting CBD market. They sell products like oils, candies, and drinks with CBD and other substances. The market is worth $6 billion now and might grow to $16 billion by 2026. Health concerns and testing are important. In the US, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) warns about possible harmful effects of CBD and wants laws to be stricter. 

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.