CBD Cannabis Trades Association

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has unveiled a list of products containing the cannabis ingredient CBD that are able to be sold in independent stores, in the latest step to regulate the market.

The more-than-3,500-product directory shows the brands that have made a credible application for ‘novel-food’ authorisation in England and Wales, meaning they are able to continue being sold until the agency makes a final decision.

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CBD products are ingestible in the form of oil, gummies or capsules.

FSA chief executive Emily Miles said the regulator had taken a “pragmatic approach” to making sure the products are safe.

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However, although the regulator is not “endorsing products on the list”, it has been created to “help local authorities and retailers prioritise products to be removed from sale”.

She added: “Being on the list means the application is credible, and the FSA has, or is shortly expecting to receive, significant scientific evidence from the applicant with which to judge safely.”

The move comes nearly a year after it was first announced CBD products would be required to achieve novel-food status to remain on the market.

At the time, none were compliant, and stores reported seizures by local trading standards.

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Products designed to be inhaled, such as vapes, do not fall under the remit for the FSA.

AJ Singh, owner of Premier Morley, told betterRetailing the products boast 60% margin. “I used to sell CBD disposable vapes and the margins are fantastic,” he said. “As retailers, we are having to look at different ways to earn margin, but also tie in what is trending, and I think this is something that is going to become really popular.”

Stephen Oliver, cofounder of cannabinoid-industry expert Canna Consultants, told betterRetailing he expects the list to expand to more than 5,000 in the next four weeks as applications are approved, but he told stores to check it regularly.

“There is no doubt some of the products on the list will be removed over the next few weeks,” he said. “There is uncertainty right now, but it is definitely a holy grail for stores that want to know which CBD products they can and can’t sell.”

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Co-founder and CEO of CBD supplier, OTO, James Bagley said the publication of the list is “very important” in giving independent retailers confidence to sell the specified products.

“This is an industry in its infancy where the shelves have all too often been dominated by backyard brands lacking quality, efficacy, or stability. Far too frequently have blind tests revealed products with little or no CBD in them at all. Although it has been a long time coming, this list helps retailers and consumers understand the credible and safe brands on the market.  Many retailers have already instigated their own internal processes for stocking CBD products, so this will help verify those decisions. For others who have been holding off, this will be the starting point. But there is a long way to go.”

He added: “It remains very early for the CBD market. As is often the case, the industry is marked by false starts and fad products. Here we begin the next stage of the category build, where increased regulation creates additional certainty and trust amongst retailers, and ultimately consumers. Perhaps most importantly, we expect this to mark an increase in effective products. If they work, consumers will come back and buy them again. And again! Most importantly though, the industry needs awareness and education. It’s been sadly lacking, and it’s where we spend much of our energy as a brand.”

Oliver advised retailers to check the list before deciding whether or not to stock a particular product.

“As long as the product they are selling is on the list, trading standards won’t be able to remove it from their shelves,” he said. “Store owners need to make sure that, if asked, they can provide the relevant evidence to prove the brand is credible.”

He added: “It’s usually a warning sign if a supplier isn’t able to provide the correct evidence, as carrying out one of these applications is a lengthy process. I advise retailers against stocking any of their products until they have seen this.”

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