Legislation on products containing cannabidiol

By Helen Arrowsmith

- Last updated on GMT

Cannabidiol is generating interest in the food and drink industry
Cannabidiol is generating interest in the food and drink industry
With increased media coverage and social media interest leading to rising consumer awareness of hemp derivatives, in particular cannabidiol (CBD), many in the food and drink industry are looking to develop new products containing this compound. But the legal status for such products is complex.

The hemp plant, Cannabis sativa L., contains more than 500 chemical compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD. THC is the primary psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis (also Cannabis sativa L.), while CBD seems not to have any psychotropic effects, but may have certain therapeutic effects.

On 1 February 2019, The European Commission amended the entry for CBD in the EU Novel Foods Catalogue. This does not affect some products derived from the Cannabis sativa L. plant or plant parts, such as seeds, seed oil, hemp seed flour and defatted hemp seed, which have a history of consumption in the EU and, therefore, are not novel.

Historic consumption

However, food businesses have been unable to prove that there is a significant history of consumption of CBD in food prior to May 1997 in the EU.

Under the EU novel foods regulations, therefore, extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids (including CBD) are considered novel foods and need to be evaluated and authorised before they are permitted to be placed on the EU market.


This applies to the extracts themselves and any products to which they are added as an ingredient, and to extracts of other plants containing cannabinoids. In light of this, the Food Standards Agency has said it is considering how to achieve compliance in a proportionate manner.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has stated that CBD-containing products, taken for a medicinal purpose, should be treated as medicines and need to be licensed as such.

Helen Arrowsmith is principal food law adviser at Campden BRI.

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Correct information.

Posted by Mike Harlington,

The NFR was updated on the 19th of January and we as the CTA as the largest association of its type in the world was made aware by SANTE who administer the catalogue.

On the 12th of March after agreeing the strategy with EIHA we attended a Novel Foods Working Group and our joint presentation was given by Jonathan Kirk QC and key members of the CTA and EIHA teams.

The outcome will be decided over the next few weeks. However we and EIHA are engaging with Member States FSA equivalents around Europe.

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Posted by Paul reddington,

This is incorrect substantial consumption evidence has already been passed to EFSA Tues when the CTA and EIHA met with the novel foods working group with lawyers and a QC on foods and regulations present on behalf of the CTA.

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