British Regulator Declares Cannabis Compound a Medicine

And then forces all suppliers to shut down.


Don Goofy / Flickr

Last Thursday the United Kingdom's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) officially announced it was designating cannabidiol (CBD)—a non-psychoactive cannabis compound—as a medicine that can be administered for the purpose of "restoring, correcting, or modifying physiological functions."

This means that CBD products, which British law has been silent on until now, will be regulated like other medical products in the U.K., requiring medical "marketing authorization" before they can be sold. This is according to a letter sent to 18 CBD manufacturers shortly before the MHRA published its statement.

Several voices here in the United States have been quick to report this as a step forward for marijuana reform, with Time referring to it as a "big win for the campaign to legalize cannabis" and Michael Collins of the Drug Policy Alliance saying this was "definitely a positive development."

The reaction from marijuana reform groups in the U.K., however, has been a mix of confusion and hostility, with many worrying that this will actually harm the interests of Brits who use CBD products.

The group Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), which campaigns for the full legalization of marijuana, has called the decision "an unholy mess" that is "endangering public health." Another group has started an online petition asking MHRA to reconsider its move.

Their concern is that the sudden application of medical regulations to the manufacture and sale of CBD will actually prevent those who use such products—which are used to treat a variety conditions including multiple sclerosis and epilepsy—from accessing the stuff by shutting down their suppliers.

Indeed, the letter MHRA sent to CBD manufacturers gave them 28 days to obtain their medical marketing authorization or otherwise cease operations. But getting this type of authorization is no small ordeal. The application fee alone is 92,753 pounds (around $115,000), and the process takes a minimum of 210 days.

It's now unclear whether any of the CBD products currently being sold on the British market will remain there after those 28 days are up. Crispin Blunt, a Conservative member of parliament who favors marijuana legalization, has demanded clarification from the MHRA on how exactly CBD products will be evaluated, and whether the the agency will consider regulating them as food supplements until they can achieve medical authorization. So far all the MHRA has promised to do is to provide "regulatory guidance" to those companies seeking marketing authorization for CBD.

So while the British government is for the first time recognizing the medical benefits of a cannabis product, it looks like those medical benefits will off-limits for patients for the foreseeable future.

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  1. Know what I mean? Nudge nudge wink wink

  2. Well it has very dangerous side effects. Like laziness and a craving for snacks. And it makes the hallways of the dorm smell all stinky.

    1. Well, then there’s no choice left, we have to throw all of those pothead monsters in the rape cage… oh yeah, we’re already doing that.

  3. I still cannot figure out the Brits. First, Brexit and then they somehow let that god awful hag Theresa May become PM. They surely were no worse off under the EU.

  4. For anyone who actually understands the UK parliament thingy, does the PM have to sign any laws passed, or do they … shit, I’m lost here.

    1. The PM is leader of the majority party or coalition. Presumably whatever legislation passes Parliament is something that was on the agenda or agreeable to him/her.

      It’s actually the Queen has to sign off on all legislation before it can become law.

      1. “It’s actually the Queen has to sign off on all legislation before it can become law.”

        Seriously? I thought the queen was just a figure head with zero political power. That’s not only political power, it’s a hell of a lot of it.

        Anyway, my gut feeling is that no positive legislation for cannabis is getting anywhere while their current PM is still PM.

        1. The Queen is legally the Sovereign and the government exists, in theory, at her pleasure. Therefore all legislation it passes must receive Royal Assent. There’s exists only a basic understanding that the monarchy will remain neutral and not interfere in such matters.

          The non-elected House of Lords also has veto power over the lower house but they rarely exercise it.

  5. So they are talking about CBD, which is non mind altering (I know, right?). Why the fuck are they getting involved? Leave it alone, let people get their medicine.
    Now that winter is back, I’m hoping that I don’t have psoriasis outbreak. It’ll be gone for years, and then BAM! Last outbreak, the medicine I use seemed less effective. I’ve been reading about CBD oil, and if I were to suffer another outbreak, I’m going to try it
    Meanwhile, here’s hoping there’s enough oil in the shatter that I’m vaping to forestall any outbreak.

    1. So they are talking about CBD, which is non mind altering (I know, right?). Why the fuck are they getting involved? Leave it alone, let people get their medicine.

      Don’t you get it? It’s because of the very fact that it is medicine, and medicines must be licensed by gov’t on the basis of their satisfaction that it’s safe & effective. Dietary supplements, by contrast, need merely be vaguely good for you.

    1. I’d definitely build a wall on the border with France. Maybe a naval blockade and threats of nukes if one single frog tries to enter.

  6. Crispin Blunt, a Conservative member of parliament who favors marijuana legalization…

    You can’t make this stuff up!

  7. CBD becoming a medicine in the UK is NOT good – we already have medical marijuana but can you get it easily? No! The government doesn’t want to give it out unless that’s the only thing you’ll survive with – they want to keep their money! So people saying that it’s one step closer to the legalisation of marijuana… no, it’s really not. CBD will now be harder to buy in the UK as when it was classed as a food supplement anyone could buy it from their preferred website but now that’s not going to be the case. Customers will have to buy their CBD from over-the-counter in pharmacies just to receive the benefits of the products and I don’t know how easy the government will let you have it either – you might have to get a doctors approval first.

    Although… I did come across a blog post that says the MHRA are not banning CBD, so have a read for yourself and keep your hopes up!

  8. I wonder what the salary and pension is like for the person or persons who maintain the list of 325 different fees on that web page.

  9. I’ve found this website to be really useful, explains this cbd thing very nice.

  10. If you prefer edibles, then you can check CBD gummies at

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