Over 200 global delegates attend ACI’s ‘CBD 2021: The UK Opportunity’ end of year event

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The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) finished 2020 on a high note with over 200 delegates from around the world attending our virtual event “CBD 2021: The UK Opportunity” which took place on Wednesday 9 December. 

CBD2021: The UK Opportunity – panel debate with Dr Parveen Bhatarah (ACI), Dr Rosemary Mazanet (Columbia Care), Shomi Malik (ACI), Dr Andy Yates (ACI) and Beatriz San Martin (Arnold&Porter), Chaired by Yasmin Hutchings (ACI)

2020 has been a uniquely challenging year, however for the commercial cannabinoid sector it has been one of advancement. The UK sector secured regulatory clarity and a grace period from its Food Standards Agency on CBD as a food, the European Union High Court ruled in favour of a French CBD vape brand (paving the way for EU harmonisation on free trade of CBD products), the UN rescheduled cannabis and subsequently the EU made a statement that they were not going to classify CBD extracts as a narcotic paving the way for novel foods dossiers to be validated by the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA).

Delegates learnt how CBD companies operating in the UK, who are already on the pathway to a novel foods validation, will not only flourish in a market estimated to be worth over £300M, but will be amongst the best placed to capitalise on the EU market that has now officially opened up.

The UK now has the clearest pathway to regulatory compliance for commercial sale of  cannabinoids and has the second highest market for these products after the US.

We launched in November 2019 as the first professional trade association and membership body for companies working in the commercial cannabis extracts market,” explained Steve Moore, Founder and Lead Counsel of the ACI, in his opening address to attendees from all over the globe. “Six months before, our sister organisation, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, published a seminal report ‘CBD in the UK’ (PDF). In that report we set out our vision for the cannabinoid industry in the UK. In order to implement the many recommendations we believed the only way was to create a new members organisation for the growing market. Included in the report was a market study that put the value of the CBD UK market at £300-350M, we have no reason to believe this hasn’t grown since then.”


Since the ACI launched last year, there have been significant developments in regards to CBD in the UK. In February 2020 the ACI worked closely with the Foods Standards Agency (FSA), the body that regulates the UK food industry, and were able to get clarification around a deadline (31 March 2021) and grace period for organisations that want to be fully compliant with the new novel foods regulations.

The focus of the event was to take the audience step by step through the requirements to be compliant in the UK market come 1st of April 2021. The ACI’s team is made up of some of the best scientific and regulatory advisors from around the world and they were present to answer questions from the supporting partners American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), Cannabinoid Industry Association (CBDIA), Natural Products Association (NPA), US Hemp Authority and attendees. 

A lively debate followed as the panel were grilled on questions relating to permissible THC content, novel foods applications and the ACI’s CBD safety study, which brings together ACI members to fill the data gaps necessary for a successful novel foods validation from the FSA and their European counterpart the EFSA. Breakout sessions allowed delegates to dive deeper into the topics that concerned them most.

Here at the ACI we are fully conversant with the new regulatory processes that apply to cannabinoid products from next year in the UK,” said Mr Moore in his closing remarks. “We are surrounded by a community of experts who can provide you with support and the insights that you require. We’ll continue to work with the regulators here in the UK to ensure that your concerns are heard. Please reach out to the ACI for all your needs in terms of supporting your business in the UK.”

Background information

CBD: Pathway to legal compliance
On 31 March 2021, guidelines set by the UK Foods Standards Agency (FSA) will come into effect and transform the CBD market, which is projected to be worth £1billion by 2025. From the 1st of April 2021 any finished CBD food product sold in the UK must be covered by a validated novel foods application. Due to the cost and complexity of attaining this validation many small players will suddenly find their products are no longer legal. This offers a particular opportunity for companies who are committed to meeting food safety standards criteria set by the FSA.

The ACI: your partner in the UK CBD space
The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) is a membership organisation committed to a safe, legal and well regulated cannabinoid market in the UK. We work closely with regulators in the UK to ensure we are well versed in the legal obligations for companies in this space. We’re helping our members keep their products on the market in 2021 with initiatives such as our CBD safety study consortium which has made headlines around the world.

Event speakers
Dr Beatriz Dan Marin, ACI Legal Counsel, Arnold & Porter
Dr Andy Yates, Pharmacy Lead, ACI
Dr Rosemary Mazanet, Columbia Care
Dr Parveen Bhatarah, Regulatory and Compliance Lead, ACI 
Shomi Malik, Development Director, ACI

Chair: Yasmin Hutchings, Membership Secretary, ACI

Opening and closing remarks: Steve Moore, Founder, ACI

Event partners
American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) – http://www.ahpa.org Cannabinoid Industry Association (CBDIA) – https://cbdindustryassociation.org 
Natural Products Association (NPA) – https://www.npanational.org 
US Hemp Authority – https://ushempauthority.org 
Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) – https://thecmcuk.org 
Columbia Care – https://col-care.com 
EMMAC Life Sciences Group – https://www.emmac.com 
Arnold & Porter – https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/