In an online meeting with the UK’s Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), the FSS said the authority would not allow ingredients classed as novel foods to be sold on the Scottish market until they received full authorisation.
The action differs from guidelines set out by the FSA, which permits CBD-related products to be sold whilst they apply for full novel foods authorisation.
“All businesses intending to sell food items containing CBD should not place their products on the market until they have applied for, and received, authorisation from the EU or, from 1 January 2021, Food Standards Scotland,” they said in a statement dated 17 December.
“We urge businesses with products already on the market to lodge an application for authorisation of a novel food without undue delay.”
The authority went on to recommend a “proportionate” approach to enforcing these rules, especially with firms taking the necessary steps to verify their products were safe, such as having a validated dossier in their possession.
A validated dossier means that the application has been received and includes all the data the FSA and FSS require.
Validation is a prerequisite to having a full novel foods authorisation with full authorisation expected to take at least a year after validation has been granted.
‘Encouraged by proactive steps’
“Despite the FSS not aligning with the FSA’s approach to allow products to remain on the shelves prior to full novel foods authorisation, we are encouraged by the proactive steps the FSS are taking to gain a better understanding of the situation,” says Shomi Malik, ACI Development Director, who led discussions on behalf of the ACI and its members with the FSS.
“We look forward to continuing the discussion on behalf of our members to find a solution that protects Scottish consumers.”
During the meeting, the FSS also reiterated calls to firms with products on the market to get a novel foods application to the FSS as soon as possible to avoid having products removed from shelves by Scottish local authorities.
The urgency is heightened after the events of 1 January 2021 and Brexit, which dictates the novel foods authorisation process in the UK will be a UK wide approach.
“The FSS will be working closely with the FSA on the validation and authorisation of novel foods scientific dossiers,” the authority says.
“This means applications should go to FSA and there is no need to make a separate application to FSS.”
CBD not a narcotic
The decision by FSS is also at odds with a recent ruling made by the court of justice of the European Union, in which it decided CBD was not a narcotic drug.
The EU’s highest court declared back in November 2020 that the cannabis-derived compound “does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health,” creating a setback to some EU countries ion their efforts to limit CBD sales, while giving the CBD industry a boost.
“By confirming that there was no scientific evidence to suggest that CBD has a harmful effect on the human body, the court has made it very difficult for the European commission to pursue their proposed classification of CBD as a narcotic,” added Robert Jappie, a partner at the law firm Ince.