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Mixed response from CBD industry to publication of FSA product list

The development has been described as both a “milestone” and a “monumental waste of time and money”.

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Mixed response from CBD industry to publication of FSA product list
Home » News » CBD » Mixed response from CBD industry to publication of FSA product list

Yesterday, UK watchdog the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) published the list of CBD products linked to credible applications that could eventually be authorised for legal sale in the country.

With the UK being the first country in the world to attempt a regulated CBD market, the process of getting there has left the industry waiting in limbo for more than two years. 

Companies that appear on the list have provided the FSA with toxicological data to demonstrate the safety of the CBD contained in their products, meaning they can now progress in the process toward potentially being authorised as safe products for human consumption.

Today, CBD industry bodies have provided a mixed response to the development. Whilst some have stated the certainty will create innovation, investment and new jobs in the sector, others believe that the process has caused damage at a time of need in the British economy and could promote the black market.

Read more: Authorised UK CBD products expected by 2023

In 2019, CBD products were classed as a ‘novel’ food product by the European Union (EU), and in the UK, are now, investable CBD products are being assessed by the FSA for safety before being permitted for sale. However, CBD was classed as a safe product by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2018. 

Founder of the Cannabis Industry Council and expert in medical cannabis, Professor Mike Barnes, has described the process as having achieved immeasurable damage to a thriving and safe industry.

Barnes commented: “The long-awaited FSA report on Novel Food status of CBD products is now available. What a monumental waste of time and money. The WHO and even WADA have already opinionated that CBD is safe. 

“There is no valid evidence to say otherwise except from old studies of huge doses of CBD (several hundred times the human dosing) of liver damage. All this has achieved is immeasurable damage to a thriving, safe industry at a time post-Brexit and post-Covid when the Government needs to be nurturing new enterprise not stifling it with unnecessary bureaucracy. 

“All that was needed was for the MHRA to actually enact the existing regulations to prevent companies making unjustified medical claims and to insist on a full Certificate of Analysis to confirm what is in the product and that it meets legal controlled cannabinoid limits. 

“What the FSA has done has played into the hands of big CBD companies, restricted consumer choice, put many small companies out of business and pushed the CBD market towards isolates which are less efficacious and with more side effects than broad-spectrum products. 

“Well done FSA – will the government take the cannabis and hemp industry seriously please? Let’s create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, generate tens of millions of tax income and provide good, safe products for the real wellness and medical issues for millions of people in this country.”

President of CLEAR UK and founder of trade association Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro), Peter Reynolds, echoes Barnes’ sentiment. 

Yesterday, in a blog on his website Reynolds shared his opinion: “The only evidence on which the FSA’s concern for any harm is based in experiments on rats by GW Pharmaceuticals with its CBD isolate medicine, Epidiolex, administered at doses hundreds or thousands of times the equivalent in humans. And the conflict of interest is obvious. 

“I am no enemy of GW, on the contrary, I admire the company and its work but it has the only licensed CBD medicine and its interest would be to restrict access to non-licensed products.”

He went on to state: “All that the FSA’s intervention in the CBD market will achieve, aside from the enormous damage to businesses and jobs, is to promote the black market. For consumers, the situation is only going to get worse.”

UK industry body, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) has welcomed the news, stating that it “feels vindicated” for the work it has done with CBD companies in submitting Novel Foods applications. It has highlighted that 100 per cent of the companies it represents have appeared on the list, with its Initial read out from the data showing that 64 per cent of all applications on the list have come from ACI members.

ACI founder Steve Moore commented: “Although the regulatory device was devised in Brussels, most European member states haven’t, on the whole, implemented it. In the US there is currently a bill going through Congress that which would mandate the FDA to take a similar approach, which would take effect from next year. 

“So the UK in a sense, in this particular category of consumer cannabinoids, is I think is pioneering and has invested more in the process and the other jurisdiction in the world.” 

Moore says the benefits of the certainty from the list are threefold: proving companies can meet regulatory requirements, providing consumers with reassurance of the safety of the products they are buying and enabling innovation and investment in the sector.

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has described the development as a “milestone moment”, noting that both EIHA Projects GmbH Novel Food Applications for isolate CBD and full spectrum extract have been accepted by the FSA and now appear on the ‘on-hold’ list. 

Read more: FSA says authorities will need to step up CBD enforcement

Tony Reeves, EIHA Board Member, UK, commented: “This is certainly a ‘milestone’ moment for our many UK consortium members and a most welcome validation of the approach taken by EIHA to one of the most challenging issues faced by the European CBD industry. 

“I would like to thank the FSA team for engaging in open discussions throughout this long process; I am sure we will have many more as our applications move towards  ‘authorisation.’ Most importantly, I would like to thank all members of the consortium for the trust they have placed in us. I look forward to working with you all to help the development and expansion of this most important sector.”

Catherine Wilson, EIHA Advisory Committee, UK, commented: “We very much welcome this long-awaited, proof of compliance from the FSA.  The pragmatic approach adopted by the FSA reflects both sides of the market: as it aims to ensure a high level of consumer safety whilst maintaining consumer choice and supporting the efficient functioning of the internal market.”

Lorenza Romanese, MD EIHA added: “I think the UK has understood the importance for European operators of having both forms of CBD extracts secured on the market, and that is why it is ready to study science-based results. 

“A legal market for CBD extracts with the associated clarity that brings will guarantee the quality of these products and facilitate a more professional savoir-faire. On this special day, I’d like to thank ChemSafe, EIHA service provider, that supported this project since 2019.”

However, the EIHA also stated that there are “some inaccuracies, inconsistencies and indeed a few surprising absences on this list, and we will review these over the coming days and continue our open discussions with the FSA.” 

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Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness 

The acquisition is part of Tenacious Labs buy-and-build strategy.

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Tenacious Labs acquires CBD pet company Rover’s Wellness 
Home » News » CBD » Mixed response from CBD industry to publication of FSA product list

Tenacious Labs has diversified into the pet care market with the acquisition of Rover’s Wellness, which specialises in THC-free CBD.

Tenacious Labs has stated that the acquisition of Rover’s Wellness represents an important milestone in its strategy to become a leading consumer products group globally.

The acquisition sees the group diversify into the high-growth pet care market for the first time. CBD pet care, according to Prohibition Partners, is expected to see global sales of products reach $424.4m (~£350.83) by 2024, representing a CAGR of 18.6 per cent.

Read more: Tenacious Labs to move headquarters to Jersey

As part of the acquisition, RaChelle Baca-Lobre will join Tenacious Labs as global director of sales – pet division and CPG wholesale and private label. Tenacious has stated that Baca-Lobre’s personal passion for CBD-enriched pet care, as well as her experience in managing a fast-growing brand, will prove invaluable for the Group as it looks to scale up its pet care division over the coming months.

Read more: Tenacious Labs CEO discusses its acquisition of Press Pause

 CEO and co-founder of Tenacious Labs, Nicholas Morland, commented: “We are delighted to welcome RaChelle and her team to Tenacious Labs. 

“Since launching in 2018, Rover’s Wellness has grown rapidly, launching genuinely market-leading products which have been well received by customers across the US. This acquisition will enable us to kick-start our pet care division, while combining RaChelle’s expertise and Tenacious Labs’ high quality manufacturing capabilities to significantly scale up Rover’s Wellness. 

“We look forward to working with her closely over the coming months and years.

Tennessee-based Rover’s Wellness creates high quality products containing all natural, non-GMO ingredients including 100 per cent certified organically grown hemp. The company was founded by Baca-Lobre in 2018 after her own pet was diagnosed with cancer. Rover’s Wellness offers a range of oils, topical salves and treats which use CBD to support joint flexibility and mobility, ease anxiety and promote positive long-term health for dogs, cats and equine.

A core part of the brand’s approach is its commitment to testing and transparency. Leveraging a “seed to sale” approach, Rover’s Wellness works directly with growers and uses state-of-the-art nano technology to extract CBD before purity testing. 

Each batch is tested by a certified industrial hemp laboratory, both before and after production, with all lab-results published on its website. This process ensures that none of Rover’s Wellness products contain THC – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis which is harmful to animals.

Baca-Lobre said: “I am excited to join Tenacious Labs, a group which reflects my desire to create safe, natural and quality products, underpinned by third-party laboratory testing. 

“We have enjoyed great success to date, and I believe that by harnessing Tenacious Labs’ best-in-class manufacturing facilities, marketing expertise, and operational support, we can unlock more exciting growth opportunities for Rover’s Wellness and the group’s broader pet care division.”

Tenacious Labs has now completed three acquisitions since launching 12 months ago, including female-focused CBD brand Press Pause and high-quality white-label manufacturer SZM LLC — now operating as TL Manufacturing. The group has also continued to expand, now employing 35 people around the world as it looks to scale up.

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SEED Innovations ramps up investment in South West Brands

The company has now invested a total of £500,000 in South West Brands.

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SEED Innovations ramps up investment in South West Brands
Home » News » CBD » Mixed response from CBD industry to publication of FSA product list

SEED Innovations has invested a further £50,000 in CBD company South West Brands Limited.

The investment by SEED Innovations has been made as part of a funding round by London-based South West Brands to raise up to £1m. 

Focusing on making investments in the medical cannabis, health and wellness spaces, Guernsey-based SEED Innovations made its last investment in South West Brands of £150,000 in 2021, bringing its toady investment in South West Brands to £450,000.

Read more: All female-led South West Brands to list on London Stock Exchange

South West Brands, which recently saw its Botanic Lab drinks and supplements added to the UK Food Standard Agency list of CBD products permitted to stay on sale in England and Wales, has recently had two of its products listed in major UK retailers. 

Its LoveMeMeMe brand is now stocked in Asos and its FEWE brand will be stocked in Superdrug from September.

CEO of SEED, Ed McDermott, commented: “We have seen some considerable progress made by the team at South West Brands over recent weeks with the launch of their two brands for sale in to Superdrug stores and online at ASOS. 

“The products have received a fantastic reception by consumers in what is fast becoming a burgeoning FemTech sector where South West Brands are leading the charge.

“Generating early revenues, with the products now increasingly available, we anticipate seeing a fast uptick in wholesale sales which will further lead to additional product development and hopefully support for the products availability outside of the UK.

“We are pleased to continue to support Rebekah Hall and her team as they build a credible, sustainable and scalable wellness business developing and commercialising their brands.”

CEO of South West Brands, Rebekah Hall, said: “The progress SWB has made in the short time since launch is just the beginning of where we believe our brands can reach. In particular, we are at an exciting juncture in the provision of female wellness solutions with increased awareness infiltrating mainstream audiences and building commercial traction with mainstream retailers. 

“With further funding in place, including the support from SEED, we look ahead to continued growth in the UK as well as commercial opportunities in other markets, including the US. “

The investment is by way of a three year, 8 per cent Convertible Loan Note (CLN), and SEED has agreed to convert £50,000 of the 12 month, 8 per cent CLN subscribed for in July 2021 into this three year, 8 per cent CLN.

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B3 Labs discusses the future of the consumer cannabis industry

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B3 Labs discusses the future of the consumer cannabis industry
B3 Labs CEO Marc Burbidge delves into Novel Foods, the future of CBD products and innovation in the sector.
Home » News » CBD » Mixed response from CBD industry to publication of FSA product list

CEO of UK-based B3 Labs, Marc Burbidge, speaks to Cannabis Wealth about the UK’s Novel Foods process and shares his outlook for the future of the consumer cannabis industry.

B3 Labs recently had 525 of its products included on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) CBD Novel Foods list.

The country’s move to be one of the first in the world with a regulated CBD market has seen companies wishing to sell their CBD products having to submit Novel Foods applications to ensure all products that go on sale are safe for human consumption. 

Read more: Marc Burbidge on entering the CBD industry and predictions for 2022

B3 Labs has described the publication of the list as a landmark moment for the UK cannabis market, providing greater transparency and assurance over CBD products for both consumers and retailers.

B3 was founded by ex-Asda store manager Marc Burbidge, who left over 15 years of experience in the traditional FMCG sector to move to the fast-growing cannabis market. Marc set up B3 after suffering from severe shoulder pain and realising the side effects that came from taking traditional pain medication. 

Read more: B3 Labs receives Novel Foods accreditation

Since founding B3, which is currently based in Manchester, Burbidge has turned the business into Europe’s leading CBD manufacturer and the first of its kind to become BRCGS certified, producing a range of white-labelled CBD oils and gummies and driving change in the market by providing consumers and brands with greater assurance and transparency over the safety, transparency and quality of its CBD products.

Novel Foods in the UK

Burbidge says that the UK’s Novel Foods process is a major positive step for the industry as a whole, giving more confidence to retailers to open up conversations with companies. 

“As more and more data comes to pass moving over to the validation phase, this is only going to legitimise CBD as a product,” said Burbidge. “We’re seeing more and more adoption from consumers all around the world as it is now.”

Whilst consumers have been quick to take up CBD, said Burbidge, retailers have fallen behind and will now have to keep up with regulatory changes.

“I really sympathise with the regulators for what they’ve had to go through over the last year. Novel Foods as a process is very much ingredient-led, as opposed to finished product-led, and the UK has taken more of an approach of a finished product-led way of working, which has obviously created a number of challenges for brands. 

B3 Labs discusses the future of the consumer cannabis industry

“At the same time, those challenges – overcoming them, getting the list out there, seeing the number of products and brands that are now able to really push forward in terms of their plans – it’s a fantastic thing.”

This development has been positive for B3 Labs, Burbidge highlighted, which is the first CBD company in Europe to gain a BRCGS certification for finished products.

Burbidge commented: “We see novel foods as a regulatory hurdle that everybody needs to go through. It means an awful lot to get through that hurdle, especially the first stage, but there’s still a long way to go. Currently, it’s ultimately it’s a list – there’s no validation or authorization yet.

“For us, we focus on product safety and product quality. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll see more of a cannabis-related certification for everybody that won’t just encompass food but also the vape industry and the cosmetics industry, for example.

“Novel Foods really did change the mindset of people to legitimise CBD and that’s always been my mission – the legitimisation of CBD and cannabis as a widely consumed product. By having something like Novel Foods, by having a food certification and by businesses having to reach those quality standards, people believe in the product a lot more, whether it be the retailer or the consumer. 

“Everybody talks about vertical integration in cannabis but vertical integration of regulatory steps and compliance in cannabis is equally as important.”

The future of the industry

The rise of the cannabis and CBD industry is harkening back to the days of herbal medicine, said Burbidge, who has been studying herbal medicine for many years. 

However, Burbidge highlights that for the industry to progress, innovation is a key element, and Novel Foods may play a part in hampering this innovation.

“We’ve seen a tincture market has grown out of CBD, oil-based tinctures. It’s going back to making herbal medicine products and using dropper bottles in the early 1900s, which is great,” said Burbidge. “It’s really good to see that unique application from coming back and you’re seeing it more and more with other kinds of herbal wellness products that are coming out. 

“We are seeing less innovation now because of Novel Foods because of what we are and aren’t allowed to do in terms of bringing new finished products onto the market. I think once we reach validation, and ultimately authorization of products, the product categories will begin to change more.”

The market will move more towards products that are familiar to people such as tablets, lozenges and slow-release formulas, said Burbidge, with a focus on aspects such as bioavailability.   

“Drinks have been a major growth sector, tinctures are another major growth sector and the biggest growth sector has probably been gummies as it is easy for people to use these.

“We need to get to full authorization of products before we can really start innovating new exciting products. But I do see that’s where it’ll eventually go.”

Whilst the UK has been very slow to adopt both medical and recreational cannabis, Burbidge says that as more patients find the benefit of using medicinal cannabis there will be more discussion around the benefits of CBD.

“I think we’re seeing more and more people – whether they’re taking certain pain relief medications that might be more addictive or costly – getting cannabis privately prescribed,” said Burbidge. “I think you’ll see people looking to get more medical products and this is similar to Novel Foods regarding generating data.”

Pointing to more mature medical and recreational markets such as Canada and Israel, Burbidge notes that the benefits of cannabis are becoming more evident through the reduction in the use of medications such as morphine. 

“People seem to be getting more quality of life based on just the verbal data,” said Burbidge. “And it’s really good to see as far as recreational is concerned. I don’t think that’s anything close to an agenda point as yet for a discussion, but once the safety of cannabis is more established, and it’s used more as a medicinal product, I think I think we might get there.”

The future of B3 Labs: an engine room of innovation

B3 Labs has been focusing on compliance through the Novel Foods process, but the lab will be an “engine room of innovation”, said Burbidge, and the company will be focusing on areas outside of CBD as interest in herbal medicine rises.

“The reason that B3 was created was all around innovation. We’re looking at building partnerships with equally as compliant manufacturers as ourselves to widen our brand’s portfolios, building a wide network of companies that we can work with to develop and create amazing products for the future and eventually build an engine room of innovation with wonderful ideas, ways of working, methodologies and applications of products.

 B3 Labs discusses the future of the consumer cannabis industry

“CBD and cannabis are, and have always been, a huge part of my life. But there are so many other compounds that are out there which provide benefits to people. We’ve seen a huge rise in awareness of medicinal mushrooms, and there are so many plant extracts whether you look at Vedic medicine, Chinese medicine, African health.

“People looking at the nutrition and people are changing their diets. There is a realisation from people that good health is a combination of how you eat, how you sleep, how you live your life, how much stress you have, and then, having the right herbs and vitamins around that give you the most benefit. 

“That’s where I see B3 focusing more and more on that rounded wellness for people – being able to support them with that and tying that in with innovation.”

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