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CBD products could be 'taken off' pharmacy shelves next year

Cannabidiol (CBD) products could be removed from pharmacy shelves next year following action taken by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The CBD industry has been given until March 31 2021 to give assurances to the FSA on the safe use of CBD products if they are to be kept on the market.

Pharmacies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be able to continue to sell CBD products that are currently on the market until the end of March 2021, as long as these are “labelled correctly” and are not “unsafe to eat [or] contain substances that fall under drugs legislation”, the FSA said yesterday (February 13).

However, the regulator has said that “no new CBD extracts should be sold until they have the necessary authorisation”.

From April 2021, pharmacy staff “will need to ensure” they only sell CBD products that are covered by an application for a novel food authorisation, an FSA spokesperson told C+D yesterday (February 13).

Recommended use

The FSA also recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding patients, or those taking any medication, should not use CBD products. Healthy adults should not exceed a recommended dose of more than 70mg a day, “unless under medical direction”, it added.

“CBD products are widely available on the high street but are not properly authorised. The CBD industry must provide more information about the safety and contents of these products to the regulator before 31 March 2021, or the products will be taken off the shelves,” FSA CEO Emily Miles said.

Reassess CBD supply

Pharmacies should “reassess whether these products should be supplied until they have novel food authorisations”, Noel Wardle, lawyer and partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP wrote in a blog for C+D.

He also invited pharmacy bodies to issue “clear guidance to pharmacists on the supply of CBD products” and said that pharmacists should train their staff on the “new FSA guidance to avoid inappropriate sales”.

Last year, the National Pharmacy Association also called for “clear” guidance on CBD products, to help pharmacists and patients “make informed choices”.

For more information on selling CBD products in your pharmacy, advising patients on their use and the difference between CBD and medicinal cannabis, read C+D’s in-depth analysis.

What is a novel food?

The FSA defines novel foods as something that has not “been widely consumed by people in the EU before May 1997”, which means they have no “history of consumption”.

Novel food regulations state that the foods need to be “evaluated and authorised before they can be placed on the market”.

When did CBD become a novel food?

CBD – a chemical that can be extracted from the cannabis plant – became a novel food product in January 2019.

What do you make of the FSA's requirements?

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