What Will the UK CBD Industry Look Like Post-‘Brexit’?

31st January 2020

Today (31st January 2020) marks Britain’s drawn-out departure from the European Union and the start of the nation’s journey post-‘Brexit’. Although a hugely divisive subject, one thing is certain – Brexit will affect the economy and industry. How it will be affected, however, remains to be seen. So, what will the UK CBD industry look like after Brexit?

Throughout the UK’s membership of the European Union, certain laws and restrictions have been adopted. Along with many other things, this is likely to change after the completion of Brexit. Expert economists have repeatedly claimed that Britain’s exit from the EU will most likely lead to the slow-down of economic growth and industry.

However, many in the CBD industry believe that theirs will be one of the few industries that won’t be negatively affected by Brexit.

In December 2019, Cannabis business analysts, Prohibition Partners, published ‘The UK Cannabis Report’. The report outlines the ins-and-outs of different aspects of the different Cannabis sectors – medicinal, recreational, and CBD.

Prohibition Partners point to the possibility:

“[Once the UK leaves the EU,] the door may be opened to introduce edible brands”.

This is an area of the CBD industry that currently faces some uncertainty. Although the UK has not, up to now, adopted the EU’s ruling as a Novel Food – effectively requiring companies to gain licensing in order to incorporate the ingredient in foods – industry bodies have remained cautious.

The European Commission ruled in January 2019 that cannabidiol (CBD) is a Novel Food. This refers to an ingredient that was not consumed to a significant extent prior to 15th May 1997. The official stance of the EU is that companies must procure Food Safety certification.

However, the ruling was not enforced strictly in the UK and other European countries. Nevertheless, at the end of 2019, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) launched the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), which aims to provide an industry standard for CBD companies in the UK. As part of their framework, the ACI works to gain FSA certification for its members – making them compliant with Novel Foods requirements.

Further, some people believe Brexit may even open up increased opportunities for the UK CBD industry. Namely, the possibility of developing an industry similar to that in Switzerland, where the CBD sector is booming.

Former Policy Lead at the CMC and government advisor, Blair Gibbs, stated at the CBD Europe Expo, last year:

“Brexit gives us a chance to diverge (from European regulation) and gain a competitive edge.”

This remains to be seen, as the UK currently enforces stricter rules on the cultivation of hemp and processing of CBD, than in many other EU countries.


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