August 8th is named “CBD DAY” to shine a light on the benefits that CBD (cannabidiol) brings to millions of people. The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry estimates that the domestic CBD market was worth roughly £690 million in 2021, so this year we’re taking a look at industry developments and some positive signals to where things are heading.
The past year saw the most notable development in the UK’s history of CBD regulation, with the long-awaited publishing of the Food Standard Agency’s Novel Foods list. A ‘novel food’ refers to any food without a history of widely documented consumption before May 1997, and ingestible CBD products like our DROPS range fall into this category which require an approved application to sell.
The FSA process is intended to clarify a flourishing market that has seen thousands of CBD products brought to market over recent years. To qualify, products already in distribution had to have been on the market before 13thFeb 2020. Those introduced to the market after that date were not eligible for the agency’s consideration.
The process has been lengthy, as with any new regulation, and is broken down into a three-stage review (listed - validation – approval). Following multiple deadline extensions for submission, the FSA list is now closed, and more than 12,000 products have been registered. Just over 100 have been validated to date, and none have yet reached the final approval stage. Slow progress is better than no progress and we’re all for legislation in our industry.
The FSA has said that it expects the first CBD products to be authorised during the latter half of 2023, dependent on the availability of evidence. We’ll be waiting patiently and in the meantime, it’s business as usual for us.
Bridging the world of prescription medical cannabis and over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products, 2021 saw the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society release their CBD: Recommendation For Good Practice guide.
The Society of prescribing cannabis doctors produced this guide with recommendations for what they consider a good CBD product, based on their experience that an OTC product can often be sufficient to help a condition. The vetted list of around 20 OTC CBD brands includes APOTHEM products which fulfil the criteria for excellence.
This year also saw top CBD brands rally together for the first time ever to try and change the rules regarding the promotion of CBD products on Google and social media platforms.
Although CBD products are legal in the UK, leading tech and social media companies unjustly ban the sale and advertisement of CBD-based products on their platforms, limiting access to verified information. No other legal supplements face the same discrimination so the aim of the petition is to try and level the playing field and allow customers to discover the benefits of CBD via these platforms, as they would with any other product. The campaign is ongoing so there’s still time to help support the CBD industry and sign the petition here.
As for the mother plant, cannabis (CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants) – there’s been positive progress on our shores, with Sadiq Khan announcing the launch of an expert panel to examine the effectiveness of the UK’s drug laws, presenting a strong possibility for UK Cannabis reform. The panel of independent experts will consider evidence from around the world on the outcomes of various drug policies.
Even though cannabis is currently classed as a class B drug in the UK, a YouGov survey found that more than half of Britons support the legalisation of cannabis, with another 15% still unsure about it, but not against it. While cannabis can be prescribed by specialist doctors for medical use, since the law changed in 2018, uptake on the NHS has been slow and a growing private medical cannabis industry has emerged, keeping access prohibitive for many.
2022 may continue to move the UK closer to a legal adult cannabis market, but there's still a long way to go.
And finally, while we generally talk about the benefits of CBD in the context of wellness and lifestyle, CBD has many potential applications for sufferers of pain or chronic disease. We’re happy to see that CBD is becoming an increasingly popular area of medical studies, with some new fascinating research underway, including:
- Pilot study finds that CBD may reduce anxiety by 50% in young people.
- This year, also saw UK research start into the feasibility of CBD on treating long COVID.
Long COVID is a common outcome after infection with the SARS-COV-2 virus, with symptoms including fatigue, breathlessness, pain, sleep disturbances and dysautonomia. The need for treatment and ongoing support has been increasingly recognised, including the establishment of dedicated treatment units within the NHS. The aim of this study is to test a CBD formulation as a treatment for these symptoms., so the researchers will collect monthly self-report assessments of common symptoms including breathlessness, fatigue, mood, cognition and pain, as well as real-time data on heart rate, physical activity and sleep using wearable technology to determine the feasibility and safety of CBD in the treatment of Long COVID.