Saturday, June 8, 2024

Consultants wade in on UK medical CBD regulation

Government must provide ‘clarity and guidance’ on CBD. That’s the conclusion of a discussion paper on the UK medical cannabis and CBD market.

Put out by medical cannabis strategists Maple Tree Consultants and London law firm Mackrell Solicitors, it includes a set of recommendations for government action. It gives an overview of the complex legal landscape in which CDB products and medicinal cannabis are brought to market, “laden with regulatory issues, as well as an almost complete absence of clarity and guidance from the government. Consequently, the cannabis industry is being held back and there is a real and damaging lack of access for patients in need of these products across the UK.”

The paper goes into detail about the UK’s legal position, ranging from the point of view of hemp-growers through to pharmaceutical uses, and CBD ‘novel food’ applications. It also looks into the business potential for UK companies, and the potential for generating tax revenues for the government, if a streamlined and effective regulatory framework can be introduced.

It lists ten recommendations for the government “if the UK is to avoid missing out on commercial, industrial and patient benefits of a medicinal cannabis industry,” it says. It advises the establishment of a new Office for Medicinal Cannabis, which would oversee the reports ten recommendations:

1. Reform the high-THC cultivation license system for medicinal cannabis to make the process simpler and faster.

2. Allow the cultivation of hemp flowers to extract CBD under an industrial hemp (low-THC) license.

3. Increase the THC limit for approved seeds from 0.2% to 1% to align with international competition and allow far greater variety of cultivars for farmers and ultimately the public. All industrial use hemp crops should be exempt from licensing.

4. Review the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 to allow CBD product suppliers to make justifiable medical and wellness claims.

5. Ensure that the Financial Conduct Authority’s guidance on allowing cannabis-related companies to float on the London Stock Exchange continues unencumbered.

6. Reform the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to ensure it is fit for the UK’s legal medicinal cannabis market.

7. Ensure the application of the novel food regulations to cannabis-related medicines does not impinge upon smaller market participants. Hemp extracts produced using food-safe techniques and designed for food supplement use should be exempt from novel foods regulations and be removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act. Synthetic CBD and isolated CBD should remain ‘novel’.

8. Reassess the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines. Reconvene with a new panel that should include academics, medical practitioners and cannabis experts not only from the UK but abroad, from countries where cannabis research is more advanced and it is accepted as a medicine.

9. Encourage wider, appropriate patient access by allowing GPs to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

10. The government should conduct or contract for a proper and thorough health economic analysis of the cost of introducing medicinal cannabis and hemp flowering tops in the UK.

Among trade, professional and political groups that support the paper are the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform, the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, and the Labour Campaign on Drug Policy Reform. 

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