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Could the U.K. Eliminate Novel Food Regulations for Cannabis?

A Parliamentary committee has suggested that cannabidiol-containing products should not be allowed to be subject to Novel Food Regulations. This would prove to be an enormous boon for the UK’s cannabis industry. All European firms that wish to produce CBD-containing foods have submitted such applications in order to demonstrate cannabidiol’s safety to the human body.

Both in the U.K. (and the E.U.) this was rocky terrain.

British officials received preliminary approval for 3,536 products by the Food Safety Authority in March. However, complaints forced the agency to increase the list of approved products to 6,006. Critics claim that the system is costly and complex. They also say it has little benefit for consumers.

Others who wish to modify that market path argue that it is similar to using an elephant gun for shooting a mouse. This is the reason. Companies with global reach usually require novel food applications. Smaller firms are unlikely to have the resources and ability to conduct such procedures.

The British group has also suggested that the manufacturers of such products should be required to submit COAs—or certificates of analysis—to prove that they are not hazardous to human health.

This would greatly accelerate the growth of this sector of the market, and have implications for THC. The COA is the common standard for industry backend sourcing. People looking for bulk cannabis flower, distillate, or isolate share COAs before purchase agreements are signed—on both the medical and non-medical side.

Given the frustratingly slow progress made on both ends of the Brexit divide, these recommendations are an incredible source of good news.

Politicians in the United Kingdom seem to listen, at least.

Unfortunately, the E.U. isn’t so optimistic. This is the other side of this discussion. It is unlikely that Tuesday’s announcement by the European Food Safety Authority, (EFSA), that 19 pending applications were being delayed was accidental. The entire process is now under the microscope within the E.U. too.

What is Novel Food? And Why Is It Important to the EU Cannabis Industry?

For those outside of Europe, the idea of “Novel Foods” has never blighted the discussion about the acceptance of any cannabinoid. The truth is that foreigners are not aware of the controversy. This is why the U.S. edible market now accounts for about half. This analysis is not performed on them.

Those in Europe have had to face a bizarre series of regulatory hurdles—beyond the “normal” issues of legalization and certification—because CBD-containing products have been subjected to a regulation adopted at the beginning of the European Union. The 1997 Novel Food Regulation was put into effect. The idea was to prevent food that is “foreign” and potentially hazardous to human health from entering distribution within the block. The approval process is extremely lengthy, difficult, and costly. In the U.K., this same regulatory process was used after Brexit. However, it was done under domestic authority and not an EU agency.

This regulation, which does not include cannabis, makes sense on one level. Similar regulation is in place in Canada and the United States, as it does in many other countries. Because of the progress of cannabis reform, marijuana products haven’t been under this scrutiny. Canada’s edibles market was not included in the discussions. The United States has not had a federal regulatory framework that applies to the edibles industry. Legalization was only possible at the state level.

This conversation is very different in Europe.

This is unbelievably frustrating considering that hemp, much less extracted CBD, is not “novel”. This was long before E.U. was established.

Regulators, however, don’t share that perspective. Yet.

Europe: More delays in pending applications

Angesichts of the current situation, the British parliament’s fresh stance is all the more refreshing.

The E.U. On the EU. “We have identified several hazards related to CBD intake and determined that the many data gaps on these health effects need filling before these evaluations can go ahead. It is important to stress at this point that we have not concluded that CBD is unsafe as food.”

E.U. has just delayed the latest approval. side is that the committee claims that there is insufficient data on the effect of CBD on the liver, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine, nervous system, and people’s psychological well-being.

As a small sop to companies with pending applications, Ana Alfonso, Head of Nutrition and Food Innovation at the agency said, “Stopping the clock on a novel food assessment is not unusual when information is missing. It’s the responsibility of applicants to fill data gaps. We are engaging with them to explain how the additional information can be provided to help address the uncertainties.”

An online session will be held by the agency on June 28 for all applicants. This is an opportunity to talk with other interested parties and discuss ways applicants could provide incomplete information.