New trade association launches to drive the charge for regulation in the CBD industry
Members sign up to Charter for a legal, safe and regulated cannabinoid industry
Following an extensive 6-month consultation with key stakeholders since the release of a landmark report “CBD in the UK”, a new trade association is being launched today (Friday 8th November) at a ground-breaking CBD Summit. The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ conference sees the launch of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), a platform which brings together leading businesses and experts committed to fostering a legally compliant, socially responsible and innovative CBD industry, which puts customers’ safety first.
The ACI has far-reaching plans towards creating a legal and safe, regulated industry in the UK including a new Quality Charter. Signatories will commit to a framework of legal compliance and quality controls, primarily based on a recent decision by the European Commission to classify all extracts of hemp and derived products containing cannabinoids (including CBD) as Novel Foods. To guide companies through the complex legal compliance pathway for authorisation as a Novel Food via the Food Standards Authority (FSA), the ACI has entered into a partnership with award winning regulatory consultants Global Regulatory Services (GRS).
Ultimately, the ACI aims to introduce a first-of-its-kind kitemark which will appear on products which meet its standards and assurances on product quality, efficacy and safety to retailers stocking and distributing CBD products and to increase customer trust.
The CBD Summit marks the publication of the foundation of this new association – the first draft Quality Charter which is comprised of 7 pillars:
1. Legal Frameworks
5. Controlled drugs
6. Marketing ethics
7. Sustainability and social impact
Shomi Malik, Development Director, CMC, comments, “In what is fast becoming a moment of reckoning for this industry, our unequivocal commitment is to provide the required stewardship to support the development of a legal and safe, regulated cannabinoid industry in the UK. Today’s announcements represent another key milestone on this path.”
Dr Andy Yates, CMC Pharmacy Lead comments, “There is no ambiguity in what the regulators want – they want fully legally compliant products on the market. As we have long advocated, the doors have closed for the current approach used by some manufacturers by claiming that the rules are somehow different for the cannabis industry. This new initiative exists to ensure that our members are fully compliant to an agreed set of terms with the relevant regularly bodies, ensuring consumer can continue to access legal, safe and quality CBD products. Those who sign up to the ACI Charter will need to put their products under intense, but necessary scrutiny, analysing manufacturing process, assessing claims and using where required toxicology studies to prove a product is safe.”
In the coming months, the focus of the organisation will be on further building its resources to maintain the integrity of these new industry standards and conduct the first round of audits of members to ensure they are collectively delivering on them. Throughout this process the ACI will continue to consult and engage intelligently with policy makers, regulators and other relevant stakeholders to steer members through a challenging and often complex regulatory environment.
Dr Parveen Bhatarah, Regulatory and Compliance Lead, CMC adds, “It’s imperative that this industry has a robust, standard analytical testing method to measure cannabinoid content within different CBD-based products. Any company in this space will no doubt have faced a number of problems when analysing cannabis products. If there is no standardisation, there is no recourse for companies or customers to question test results. The lack of standardisation is hurting the industry's ability to present cogent arguments on key matters such as defining 'zero-detectable THC'; the CMC's efforts in addressing this broad-ranging subject is significant for the industry to move forward.”
Sarah Gaunt, Global Regulatory Services comments, “We want to encourage companies to apply for authorisation via a package of robust data that meets all the safety standards for a novel food. Supporting ACI members to do this is crucial – it’s a complex, lengthy, but absolutely vital process to ensure we have an industry based on high quality products. This new ACI Charter is the first step towards a legally compliant CBD industry which could become the gold standard for the rest of the world.”
Cannabidiol, known more commonly as CBD, has seen a notable rise in consumer demand in recent years, leading to an influx of products available largely online, in high street health food stores and pharmacies. According to a study by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC), the UK CBD market was shown to be worth £300m currently, and its double-digit growth each year has led to market value expectations of almost £1bn by 2025.
The ACI is an initiative led by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis. Over the course of the past six months the CMC have, with its members’ support, been undertaking a wide-ranging review of the UK CBD sector. This has included commissioning the most comprehensive market sizing exercise, a product testing review with The Times and the first ever opinion poll to establish public attitudes to the CBD market and its products.