Leading London Law Firm Mackrell Turner Garrett Instructed by Trade association to launch legal action against EU Novel Food Regulations on behalf of UK’s booming CBD industry

Posted on Friday March 8, 2019


London law firm Mackrell Turner Garrett, together with a leading food and trading standards barrister, has been instructed by the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTA) to challenge a controversial change to the classification of food products containing Cannabidiol (also known as CBD) recently introduced by European regulators.

Robert Jappie, Head of Cannabis Law at Mackrell Turner Garrett and Jonathan Kirk QC, of Gough Square Chambers, will travel to Brussels on the 12th March 2019 to make representations to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in respect of the recent decision to reclassify hemp extracts as ‘novel’.

Under the Novel Food Regulations ((EU) 2015/2283) any product deemed as ‘novel’ must gain authorisation from EFSA before it can be sold as a foodstuff within the EU. A Foodstuff can be considered ‘novel’ if it was not consumed by humans to any significant degree prior to May 1997.

These regulations apply to food supplements, ingredients, and substances intended to be incorporated into food. In the case of CBD, this includes extracts, oils and other derived products that are intended for ingestion by humans.

The recent changes made by the EU in its submission for the term ‘Cannabinoids’ states that:

“Extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods as a history of consumption has not been demonstrated. This applies to both the extracts themselves and any products to which they are added as an ingredient (such as hemp seed oil).”

Although EFSA’s Novel Food Catalogue is advisory only, it is relied upon by domestic regulators such as the Food Standards Agency in the UK to protect consumers. In light of this change to the Novel Food catalogue, the Food Standards Agency could seek to have CBD products removed from shelves if a decision to enforce the new classification is taken.

Mike Harlington, Chair of the CTA, said:

“Only food products that are enriched with isolated CBD should be considered novel. Hemp extracts are not novel and this is the position we have presented for almost 2 years now. Our position remains unchanged. Our Members’ products remain legal, and will not be removed from sale.”

The CTA has grown considerably since its creation in 2016 and now has more than 700 members in the UK who produce a wide range of legal CBD products.

Robert Jappie said:

“The growth of the UK’s CBD industry has been spectacular in the last three years and its contribution to the UK economy is thought to exceed £100 million per annum.”

The CTA’s decision to instruct Robert Jappie, one of the UK’s leading Cannabis Law experts, and Jonathan Kirk QC, a specialist in EU food regulation, to challenge this decision at the European Commission in Brussels is a clear indication of the concern that the industry holds about the future of the industry.