Food and drink containing CBD, or cannabidiol, could be taken off shelves next year over lack of scientific data to prove its potential and fears it could negatively impact people’s health.
CBD is an anti-inflammatory and non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. It is widely touted for its medicinal benefits such as treating stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, inflammation, muscle soreness, spasms, chronic pain, etc. CBD is also popularly known to treat life-threatening diseases such as epilepsy, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Tourette.
While there’s evidence that CBD helps in reducing seizures in epileptic kids, there’s not much information or scientific data about how it can help combat cancer. NHS England has approved two cannabis-based medicines. Both medicines are grown and developed in the UK.
Epidyolex, a purified oral CBD solution, is used to reduce seizures in epilepsy. Epidyolex is used to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome and Lennox Gastaut syndrome.
The second cannabis drug approved by the NHS is Sativex, a mouth spray containing both CBD and THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. Sativex has been approved to help patients suffering from multiple sclerosis, and help relieve their muscle stiffness or spasms, also known as spasticity. However, doctors cannot prescribe Sativex for relieving pain.
Campaigners said that though these regulations will help people access CBD medication, it has a very limited scope.
CBD is naturally found in cannabis plants, and it can be removed and sold as an extract used in an array of dietary supplements and beverages such as baked goods, sweets, oils, and drinks. But officials said that CBD products could be pulled off from the shelves if they’re not approved by the Food Standards Agency. They want to ensure that all CBD products in the market are safe for consumption and in compliance with the regulatory policies.
The news has come after concerns raised by the government’s Committee on Toxicity that consuming CBD infused dietary supplements and beverages could have negative health effects on the users.
Additionally, the cannabis industry is largely unregulated which means many products often contain illegal drugs such as THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants which is responsible for causing the “high” when users smoke weed.
As such, only approved products will be allowed to remain in the market from March 31, 2021. Meanwhile, all CBD-infused foods and drinks will have to be carefully labeled as safe for consumption and assessed thoroughly to ensure there are no substances that may fall under different drug rules than the approved cannabis in order to stay on the market.
The new rules are applicable in Northern Ireland, England, and Wales with local authorities responsible to ensure that businesses are complying with them. As for Scotland, it has different rules as devised by the Food Standards Scotland. Here, cannabis sellers are “encouraged” to apply for authorization from the European Commission.
Pregnant women and those on medication should not take CBD
In addition to the new rules, the FSA has also recommended that CBD products should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people who are already on medication. However, adults can consume up to 70mg a day- about 28 drops of 5% CBD, as per the medical orders.
Emily Miles, the Chief Executive of the FSA, said that CBD products are widely available on the streets but are not properly authorized. Companies offering CBD products should provide more information about the safety and the contents of the products to the regulator before March 31, 2021, or else their products will be removed from the shelves.
Chair of Committee on Toxicity, professor Alan Boobis, said his committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD infused food products and discovered evidence that it has potential adverse health effects on users. Although, not clearly sure about such a risk, they are pleased with the pragmatic and sensible approach the FSA is taking.
But the FSA only overlooks the food and beverage industry. So the standards won’t be applicable to vapes, cosmetics, or other items containing controlled drugs such as THC, or products making medicinal claims.
Possession of THC, defined as class B drugs, and cannabis can result in an unlimited fine, five years of prison, or both, while the supply and production can lead up to an unlimited fine, or 14 years in prison, or both.
The FSA’s rules won’t impact those who take medically prescribed CBD or cannabis.