21 Feb UK’s Leading Cannabis Doctor Criticises FSA’s “Heavy Handed” Move On CBD

Hundreds of thousands of people are gaining great benefit from the CBD products they buy online or in high street stores. For some people improvement is dramatic.  This is why I’m very disappointed at the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) heavy handed intervention in the market.  Its claim that there are potential adverse health effects only applies where massive doses of pure CBD are taken. Over-the-counter CBD products are very safe and there is no evidence at all of liver problems or any other adverse effect at normal doses.

CBD has become very popular because people are keen to benefit from the therapeutic effects of medicinal cannabis.  CBD products enable people to do this legally and without a prescription and for some the results have been life changing.

The long-standing trade associations, such as CannaPro, have done good work in recommending a maximum daily dose of 200mg for adults and in ensuring the quality of the products and the trading standards of their members.  That said, better regulation and standards are necessary but the regulators who you would expect to act have done nothing until this announcement by the FSA.  The MHRA has failed to deal with all the unlawful advertising and medicinal claims and now the FSA is trying to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut with the EU Novel Foods Regulation.  The cost to CBD businesses of complying with this are enormous, in my opinion, unnecessary and disproportionate.  If this goes ahead the result will be higher prices and less consumer choice.

To be clear, at a maximum dose of 200mg per day, there is no significant risk from whole plant CBD products. The evidence that has been offered about adverse effects is for doses of pure CBD between 10 and 1000 times greater.

I’m also concerned that the FSA seems to be working closely with a new trade association that has just appeared in the market which only has big companies on its books to whom it charges significant membership fees and now it is backing the FSA’s novel food move enthusiastically.  This seems very strange to me and more like an effort to take over the market from the small businesses that have done so much good work in bringing the benefits of CBD to so many people.

I hope the FSA will reconsider its position and work with the existing trade associations to improve regulation without damaging the market. People have used similar whole plant cannabis products for hundreds if not thousands of years without any harmful effects. It is important we do not disrupt access to products that are doing so much good for people’s health and wellbeing.

Professor Mike Barnes