CBD brand discusses regulatory challenges of Amazon UK

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages - CBD shopping / MysteryShot
GettyImages - CBD shopping / MysteryShot

Related tags Cbd Fsa Food standards agency Brexit Amazon Regulation

US-based brand cbdMD has announced its launch on Amazon UK’s CBD pilot program, bringing a huge opportunity for growth as well as substantial challenges thanks to ever-evolving regulations.

The North Carolina company which entered the UK market in 2020, will extend its reach in the UK by selling its gummies, tinctures, and topicals via online retail behemoth Amazon.

The company's range consists of oil tincture drops, gummies, gummies, curcumin oil capsules, softgel capsules, and balm for muscle soothing. 

The inclusion of cbdMD’s products on Amazon allows them to reach a wider audience in the UK, and could open opportunities for other CBD companies for inclusion on Amazon if the pilot scheme proves a success.

Ronan Kennedy, CEO of cbdMD, states: “We believe there is a significant opportunity to grow our market share in the UK and joining Amazon's unmatched platform is a big step in driving growth in this market.” 

Amazon UK CBD pilot programme

CBD is classified as a Novel Food in the EU and the UK, thus any CBD-containing food marketed in Europe must be approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)​ and included in the EU Novel Foods Catalogue​.

To comply with Amazon UK's policies, CBD companies must ensure that their products meet legal requirements for CBD content and labelling. They must also adhere to Amazon's policies on advertising and marketing, which prohibit claims that CBD can cure or treat medical conditions.

Amazon’s CBD pilot programme was launched in 2020, allowing CBD brands to sell via its platform on an invite only basis. There are now around 10 brands in the catalogue.

Kennedy says the acceptance process has been rigorous. He states: “They take a regimented approach, scrutinising all the stock keeping units (SKUs), and makings sure all brands had come forward with only UK Food Standard Agency (FSA) approved products.

“They did a robust review of certificates of authenticity (COA); all the labels, any of the content on the website, and how you back-up claims.”

Lance Blundell, general counsel and co-chair of cbdMD adds that they credit their inclusion in the programme to their thorough practices. He states: “One of the reasons Amazon reached out, was the strength of our regulatory filing and the fact that we have more products under review [for Novel Foods authorisation] than any other company.”

He suggests that as of February, there were 116 products in the risk assessment phase of gaining novel foods approval in the UK, and 86 of those products belonged to cbdMD.

As part of the agreement to withdraw from the EU, the UK transitioned the novel food regulatory framework from EFSA to the FSA. However, Brexit has brought with it some obstacles for the CBD market.

Considering the perspective of Amazon UK, Blundell suggests that they’re in a difficult position, stating: “Amazon doesn’t know what the FSA is doing, and there's definitely post Brexit issues...

“It's not smooth for Amazon or the retailers. They're trying, but with the whole FSA process it’s sort of a moving target in a sense.” 

Blundell has recruited the help of a legal consultant to help juggle the requirements for CBD product sales in the UK.

While the regulations continue to evolve, Blundell says they will continually work with the platform to meet their criteria: “We'll get a SKU approved. And then we'll get a notice that there's some problem, and then we'll fix the problem. It's very much an iterative process.”

He says the fact the company has passed strict compliance checks by Amazon and the FSA gives him confidence in the quality and safety of its product portfolio.

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