Brexit CBD law confusion a “significant body-blow” for Northern Ireland

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

getty | tinnakorn Jorruang
getty | tinnakorn Jorruang

Related tags Cbd Northern ireland Novel foods regulations

With the UK deadline for novel food applications looming on 31 March, it has come to light that UK regulations will not apply to CBD products in Northern Ireland post-Brexit meaning this market may ‘disappear’ for many companies.

While the rest of the UK will fall under Food Standards Authority (FSA) regulations, Northern Ireland must continue to follow EU law after the end of the Brexit transition period. 

The information has been found – after digging - on the UK Food Standard Agency’s website: "The EU law that applies to Northern Ireland after the transition period is specified in Annex II to the Northern Ireland Protocol. This means that if you’re seeking an authorisation for a CBD product to be placed on the Northern Ireland market you will have to continue to follow EU rules and its authorisation procedures." 

London-based cannabis consultancy firm, The Canna Consultants​, uncovered the information while assisting clients with novel food applications. They highlighted it on their website, describing the information as a “shock” and “significant body-blow” to businesses in Northern Ireland. 

Stephen Oliver, co-founder of The Canna Consultants, says companies would be forgiven for not having read the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is 63 pages in length, contains 6 Annexes and relies upon additional documents as referred to within the 369 Footnotes.

He told NutraIngredients: "The information was almost released by stealth. You had to know exactly what you were looking for and exactly where to find the full information."

With the UK deadline for novel food applications on 31 March,​ many companies may have already invested in the application process - which involves submitting 90-day toxicity data which CannabisHealth​ says can cost between £300,000 and £1million.

"It is uncertain how much financial and emotional investment has been made by Cannabinoid businesses in Northern Ireland, but this will no doubt come as a shock and significant blow to them and their businesses," ​adds Oliver.

He explains that while there are not many CBD manufacturers based in NI, there are plenty of companies supplying Cannabinoid products to businesses or consumers within the country.

"CBD products in NI will be considered unlawful until the product in question is fully Authorised by the European Commission, having progressed through the full Novel Food assessment process - as conducted by EFSA.

"In short, consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland will not be able to benefit from the structure that has been adopted by the UK Food Standards Agency whereby Cannabidiol products which meet the FSA’s requirement for them to be Validated by 31st March 2021 and can be manufactured and sold without regulatory intervention.

"The question for UK CBD companies is - has that market now disappeared?"



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