The CBD industry just got a bit clearer

Yesterday, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published its anticipated public list of CBD products that have a credible application to be sold to consumers. The UK has become the first country in the world to regulate the market for orally consumed, safe and legal cannabis extracts.

This is a huge milestone for this growing and increasingly competitive industry and marks a major step in treating cannabis like a mainstream Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) category. The level of evidence & compliance requirements brands needed to pass to make it on this list demonstrates how the sector has progressed and the commitment of brands to offer the highest quality, effective, safe and compliant products to today’s consumers.

Trust is everything and the public list will go a long way in providing much-needed clarity for the market and its customers.

The cannabis industry has seen explosive growth and unprecedented change over the past few years with CBD products permeating into the health & wellness market. According to the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), “the UK is now the second largest market for consumer CBD, behind only the US, with total sales of £690 million in 2021,” representing a doubling since 2019.

However, the CBD industry has been riddled with cowboy brands, misleading claims, and disparities in product ingredients which has led to confusion and some unsafe, bad quality products being sold.

As CBD products are considered ‘novel’, they needed to be assessed by the FSA for safety before being placed on the market. Subsequently, the FSA kickstarted the application process and imposed a submission deadline of 31 March 2021. Following a year review, the FSA hopes this list is the next step in regulating the market.

Emily Miles, chief executive of the FSA, said: “The CBD market is growing rapidly. The FSA has been working to move the CBD industry into compliance. Today we have taken the next step in our pragmatic approach to making sure CBD products are safe and what they say they are.”

Local authorities, retailers and consumers can use the list to make informed decisions about what they stock and what they buy. Major retailers and local authorities now have the power to remove certain products that are not included on the list from sale in the UK.

But validation is only the first step. CBD products on the list must undergo further stages of assessment before being authorised, the FSA said, which is unlikely to happen before 2023.

For the industry to achieve its potential, industry players like companies, governments and regulators must continue to collaborate and secure its foundations by developing global standards for products; developing a deeper customer-centric approach and establishing a clear regulatory pathway for cannabis and hemp-derived products.  There is still some way to go but the FSA list shows progress is being made.

We will be taking a deeper dive into some of the successful CBD brands that made the list and what’s next for the CBD industry next week so keep an eye out!

We have worked with several brands, entrepreneurs, campaigners, and organisations in the cannabis ecosystem and understand the market complexities. We are passionate about driving the right conversations, influencing change and delivering tangible results.

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