05 Oct Fast Developing News On CBD And Medicinal Cannabis.
We learned today that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has started issuing letters to CBD suppliers advising them that CBD is being designated as a medicine and that sale of CBD products must stop within 28 days.
This will be alarming news to many people. However, it is a complex situation which has some positive aspects to it. In the short term, if you are already using CBD products, you would be well advised to stock up as much as you can afford.
CLEAR has been aware of this possibility for several weeks and consequently we have been working with leading CBD suppliers and licensed producers of both low and high THC cannabis on establishing the UK Cannabis Trade Association (UKCTA). We are already in correspondence with the MHRA seeking to represent all stakeholders, to establish a consultation process on regulating CBD products and to protect the interests of producers, suppliers and consumers.
A marketing authorisation can be fantastically expensive, requiring an initial application fee of £103,000 and full scale clinical trials demonstrating safety and efficacy.
A traditional herbal registration is not as expensive, around £6,000 but relies on the product having been “traditionally used to treat the stated condition for a minimum of 30 years, 15 years of which must have been in the European Union (EU).” It also requires “scientific evidence relating to the safety, quality and traditional use of the herbal product”. It is far from certain that CBD will qualify for this scheme and in any event registration is only granted if the medicine is used for minor health conditions where medical supervision is not required.
CBD is not a ‘controlled drug’ and is not prohibited but most CBD products are in fact low-THC, whole plant extracts derived from industrial hemp, legally grown under licence. So yes, they are a legal form of cannabis and, of course, according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, cannabis has ‘no medicinal value’. So, you may well ask, how can the MHRA classify it as a medicine?
This is just the first of many complications for the MHRA, the Home Office and the government. Potentially, it could be very positive as it could make the government acknowledge the medicinal value of cannabis and, in effect, force the beginning of cannabis regulation.
It has been certain for some time that many of the CBD products presently on the market are unlawful because they contain levels of THC and CBN which exceed the limits stated in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Some CBD suppliers have taken a head in the sand attitude to this, even in some cases foolishly promoting the THC levels in their products. This led to CLEAR removing its endorsement of one supplier earlier this year and recommending CBD Oils UK instead.
The path ahead is uncertain. The UKCTA is pressing for an urgent meeting with the MHRA. Apart from the advice to consumers to stock up, these will be very worrying times for CBD suppliers and their employees. Another factor is that GW Pharmaceuticals is very close to applying for FDA approval in the USA and an MHRA marketing authorisation for its CBD epilepsy medicine, Epidiolex.
CLEAR, the UKCTA and leading CBD companies are working together to clarify and progress this situation. We will keep you closely informed of developments.