FSA misses own deadline; unsupportive to CBD industry during COVID-19

As much as the benefits of the cannabis plant and CBD specifically have been brought to life in the face of COVID-19, The Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) has claimed that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has failed to support the CBD and hemp industry during the current coronavirus pandemic.

We reported a few times with regards to the new Novel Foods deadline which was set for 31 March 2021. Following the closure of international borders and the lockdown chaos caused by the global pandemic, on the 31 March 2020, the CTA requested from the FSA an extension of the requirements to present a validated Novel Foods Application. 

The CTA shared these concerns:

No registration procedure has been put in place by the FSA (this was due in January)

The FSA also confirmed that products registered in the EU would not automatically be granted the same registration in the UK

On 9 April, the CTA received the following response from the FSA:

“The FSA has not received any evidence in support of the suggestion that recent events with COVID-19 has rendered CBD businesses incapable of formulating novel food applications to the appropriate standard to meet next year’s deadline. This view is additionally in the context of the background to CBD extracts and the fact that CBD businesses have already had well over a year and have just under a further year to progress novel food applications; a total of over two years. Furthermore, discussions with yourselves and others in the industry have been ongoing for significantly longer. We consider that this is more than enough time to have planned and started the necessary studies. In fact, several CBD businesses have and are building the applications aiming towards the validated application process deadline date, with some having already submitted initial applications.

As such I can confirm there is no change in approach and the deadline as previously set out by the FSA remains.”

The CTA considers this statement incorrect and cites the furlough of numerous members’ staff teams, closed businesses, closed laboratories, capacity reduction etc.

“We find the FSA’s position on this to be quite baffling, unsympathetic and unaligned with all government departments at this moment of national and international crisis. Especially when many in our industry have pivoted and committed immense resources to fighting this life-threatening virus,” the CTA wrote in a statement.

Considering the health and wellbeing value of CBD at this crucial time for collective immunity, this refusal from the CTA can be perceived as an act of vioelnce to the public. “To see this happen would cast a shadow of shame upon the UK FSA and its priorities in these dark times” says the CTA.

We hope that the FSA will be more understanding to the flight of smaller CBD businesses and at least compensate the time of delay caused by the virus and the FSA’s missed deadline for the application form.