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UK: Watchdogs are set to ban High Street CBD 'cannabis' oil for up to 18 months as experts probe whether it has any real health benefits
Monday 28 Jan 2019
The oil is promoted as a cure for anxiety, insomnia and joint and muscle pain
The Food Standards Agency says it counts as a 'novel food' and needs approval
So Trading Standards will be instructed to pull items from shops for 18 months
Watchdogs are moving to ban sales of the popular 'wellness' supplement CBD oil, which is derived from cannabis.
The number of people using the oil, which is sold legally on the High Street and online, is rising amid claims it helps with anxiety, insomnia, muscle and joint pain.
However, a decision by British and European food watchdogs to classify cannabidiol oil as a 'novel food' means it now needs to go through an approval process.
Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) has indicated it will ask local council trading standards officers to remove products from sale until this approval process is complete, which could take 12-18 months.
Under the new system, sellers would have to show that the oil, which can be taken in capsule form or by pipette, is safe and has the effect claimed.
This product and those like it may be banned from shelves while the assessment is carried out
The oil ranges in price from £25-70 and is sold at leading retailers like Boots and Holland & Barrett.
It does not contain the harmful psychoactive chemicals in medicinal cannabis.
Reclassification is a commercial disaster for producers and bad news for the legal cannabis farms established to meet growing demand.
Yesterday the Cannabis Trades Association warned producers: 'Trading Standards have rights to enter your premises and inspect stock to determine its novel status.
'This is your industry, you need to protect it. You have to help us keep this industry alive. It is going to die if you do nothing.'
Dr Sarah Brewer, medical director of CBD oil producer Healthspan, said: 'Cannabidiol oil has direct effects on the endocannabinoid system in the brain, enhancing the effects of other brain chemicals to reduce pain perception, relieve anxiety and stress, improve sleep and lift mood.
'It is also a powerful antioxidant which suppresses inflammation.'
A product is defined as a novel food if it cannot be shown to have been in long term and safe use before 1997.
Other supplements recently reclassified include chia seeds, krill oil and Vitamin K.
In findings published last summer, the World Health Organization concluded that CBD is 'generally well tolerated with a good safety profile'.
Britain's FSA has pushed the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) to classify CBD oil and, potentially, some hemp extract products, as a novel food.
The FSA said it will now take action to block sales.
A spokesman said: 'We are putting in transition measures to aid enforcement.'
This process will continue after Brexit as Britain intends to transfer the EU rules into UK law.
Hemp supplement for anxiety sufferers
CBD or Cannabidiol is an ingredient naturally sourced from hemp or cannabis plants
CBD derived from hemp is not the same as CBD from marijuana, which causes a drug-induced high
UK users have doubled in two years
Advocates say it cuts anxiety and helps sleep
It is also taken to relieve muscle aches and pains
It's available as capsules, drops and oral sprays
CBD Oil will not show up on tests to detect illegal drugs
It may affect the working of other medicines
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to avoid it
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