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The UK Elects to Stop Bulk Imports of CBD As Strict Rules on Trace Levels of THC Are Enforced

Posted by Lewis Olden on
The UK Elects to Stop Bulk Imports of CBD As Strict Rules on Trace Levels of THC Are Enforced

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The UK’s Home Office has again changed its mind about CBD. The change pertains to certain bulk CBD imports as the Home Office is concerned about there being illegal levels of THC in some bulk imports of CBD.

The development has occurred after the Police and Justice Minister Kit malthouse requested clarification on the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in CBD products.

The Home Office has decided that all companies that import bulk CBD distillate or CBD isolate into the UK must now obtain a Schedule One Controlled Drug Licence.

While this may seem like a setback for the burgeoning UK CBD industry which is estimated to be worth in excess of £1 billion in the near future. The Home Office has declared its support and encouragement to the development of a CBD industry in the UK that is safe and legitimate. Ensuring that CBD consumers in the UK are protected is imperative in the government’s view and they believe that this is the best course of action to prevent the public consuming any prohibited substances.

With the impending Novel Food legislation just over a month away from coming into force, this announcement further complicates matters for UK CBD shops. Especially those who rely on imports from Europe or the United States of America.

The Novel Food legislation means that all CBD ingestible products will have to be manufactured by a supplier who is Novel Food compliant. This is to ensure that standards within the industry are as high as possible and to protect the consumer from ingesting any CBD products that are not formulated in safe conditions using compliant ingredients.

It is inevitable that both the Novel Food legislation and the new laws surrounding bulk imports will negatively impact many UK CBD companies and the likelihood of brands only having a handful of suppliers to choose from increases. The legal costs of obtaining a Novel Food license and a Controlled Drug Licenses are likely to price all but a few suppliers out of the UK’s CBD market.

The announcement is a shock to the industry and will inevitably cause a great deal of confusion across the UK. It will be extraordinarily concerning to a number of companies within the industry that rely on overseas CBD to formulate their products. 

The announcement and change in law would technically deem a number of businesses in the sector an illegal enterprise overnight. Moving the goalposts as to what is considered legal in regard to importing CBD with such short notice is slightly absurd.

However, the UK CBD industry was moving towards CBD isolate and broad-spectrum products and raw ingredients in anticipation of the Novel Food legislation being enforced. So those companies that were suitably prepared for the Novel Food changes should not be too negatively impacted.

The Abolition of the 1mg Per Shipment Rule 

The CBD industry in the UK has grown dramatically in the last couple of years and the Home Office had previously allowed a lawful trace element of THC in shipments entering the UK. The lawful trace element of THC was measured at 1mg per shipment which is a minute amount. This law had previously baffled many in the industry as the same law applied to a shipment of 100kg of CBD and a shipment of one 30ml bottle of CBD oil. This peculiar law has now been amended by the Home Office and the re-examination has resulted in more stringent controls.   

The MP and Police & Justice Minister, Kit Malthouse outlined the plan in a letter to UK regulators in the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (“ACMD”). 

Within the letter Mr. Malthouse ordered the ACMD to create new guidelines on THC levels, that ensured the government retained the power to increase or decrease the permitted trace level of THC on imports as they saw fit.

The proposed range from the Home Office is 0.01% THC/CBN to 0.0001% THC/CBN.

When the ACMD elects to decide upon the 0.01% guidance, this would allow the THC levels to increase. For instance, a 10ml bottle of CBD oil with 0.01% THC equates to the previous law of 1mg of THC. However, under the new suggested law a 30ml bottle of CBD oil could contain up to 3mg of THC.

However, the suggested level of 0.0001% THC/CBN would be seriously damaging to the industry and would force many companies to have to reformulate their products. It would be extraordinarily difficult to remove all THC & CBN below this level.

The percentage marker may have a long-term benefit to the industry if it is 0.01%. This level would reduce the pressure on some companies and ensure that the CBD used in consumer goods remained of the highest quality. However, one hundredth of a milligram would likely have a disastrous effect on many companies.

Hopefully common sense prevails and definitive guidance is provided that does not severely damage a young and exciting industry.

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