Tough new rules aimed at regulating the CBD food supplement market in the UK will come into force nationwide this week.
Applications for "novel food" status must be submitted to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) by Wednesday 31 March in a bid to crack down on mislabelling and deal with concerns about the contents of some CBD products.
Nearly eight million people bought CBD in the UK last year and the market has rocketed by 50% in 12 months. It is now worth around £450m, but 55% of users struggle to access reliable information about what they’re buying.
FSA chief executive Emily Miles said: "The industry is not yet compliant with the law.
"The products all need to go through a food safety assessment and we want to bring the industry into compliance. We’ve had over 200 applications so we think the market is working to bring their products into compliance.
"What we’ve said to businesses is they need to be compliant by end of this month. After that they will go through an assessment process. But any business that doesn’t have that application in needs to withdraw their products from sale by 31 March. It’s important to the consumer that these products are safe and that they are what they say they are."
Emma Harrison, from Hertfordshire, contracted dengue fever in Myanmar six years ago and ended up with a spinal cord injury as a result. She has been regularly using a CBD oil product and says it has been a game changer.
She added: "I had been on all these medications for so long, almost a year, and nothing had touched the pain.
"Suddenly I took quite a small dose of CBD and the pain disappeared. I couldn’t believe it. I kept taking it and kept taking it and noticed all these other improvements, more daily clarity and better recovery from my rehab sessions.
"I think the new regulations are really important. For one, it’s an expensive product and when you are buying something that expensive it should be a product you can trust. Secondly, all medications that we take go through so much testing, there’s no reason CBD shouldn’t be going through those same tests and be held to a high standard."
Professional rugby player Grayson Hart runs Pure Sport CBD and says he welcomes the move by the FSA. He began using CBD oil as a natural way of dealing with a painful knee injury after wanting to move away from painkillers.
The former Scotland scrum-half told Sky News: "We’re really excited by the FSA regulations coming into play. It’s going to hold companies fully accountable to what they’re putting out there. Right now there’s just not enough accountability. Our vision is if there isn’t an official regulatory criteria we want to ensure we provide that level of clarity. So we’re excited by this and welcome these regulations.
"Any brand that has their application approved will have that stamp of approval. And that’s so amazing for such a fast-growing industry."