The European cannabidiol (CBD) market appears headed to take another hit — this time in the UK — as developments surrounding CBD’s designation as a “medicine” have caused confusion among those who’ve been selling it legally as a food supplement.
If the UK market contracts even only temporarily, it will be a second major blow to the CBD industry following a clampdown in the USA last year over what government regulators called dubious health claims being made by some vendors.
Medi-Pen, GW push for meds
Spurred by inquiries from CBD vaporizer company MediPen, the UK government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) recently released a “review” that found CBD has a ‘restoring, correcting or modifying’ effect on certain “physiological functions” — essentially tagging it as a medicine.
That no doubt is music to the ears of British hemp pharma firm GW Pharmaceuticals which, since it’s inception, has openly backed the idea of regulating CBD as a medicine at the European level. Publicly held GW recently concluded clinical trials intended to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of CBD.
While MediPen is hailing the apparent designation as a step forward in medical cannabis legalization, current vendors who’ve been selling CBD as a food supplement feel left out in the cold.
“The MHRA’s apparent decision to designate cannabidiol (CBD) as a medicine is an unholy mess,” CLEAR, a pro-cannabis association said in a statement, noting the MHRA’s review “has been handled about as badly as it is possible for a government agency to deal with a matter of public safety.”
At risk, CLEAR said, are “tens of thousands” of users who’ve found CBD helpful as they suffer from such maladies as epilepsy, chronic pain, anxiety and Crohn’s Disease. That’s because under MHRA’s review current vendors would need to obtain a special licence to sell their products or face a fine or two-year prison sentence.
Meanwhile, MediPen is crowing over the MHRA’s “ground-breaking” review. “Since our inception we’ve worked hard to obtain our goal of breaking down the negative connotations surrounding cannabis to lead to a reform in the law for medicinal use,” Jordan Owen, Managing Director of MediPen, told The Independent newspaper. “Now this is finally becoming a reality, which will provide ground-breaking results.”
CLEAR, which said it has confirmed a meeting with MHRA to discuss the issue, noted that MHRA’s review is at odds with the British Home Office’s position that cannabis has no medicinal value. The association further requested MHRA release details of the process it undertook to arrive at its decisions regarding CBD, and put in place rules that would ensure CBD products can be delivered to current users.
- The Home Office’s current assessment is that cannabis “can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society”.
- MHRA’s review may put “hundreds of jobs in danger at suppliers providing CBD to the UK market,” CLEAR also noted.
- MHRA (ominously) noted in its review that it stands by ready to help vendors through the licensing process.
- CLEAR claims the MHRA call center has been swamped with “calls from people desperate for information and in fear that they will be cut off from supplies of the food supplement that is so important for their health.”
- A petition seeking 8,000 signatures and urging MHRA to keep CBD on the market is nearing that goal.