CBD is still federally unregulated: What can we learn from the EU?

cbd oil
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With the current pandemic outbreak spreading across the country, many states have now begun lockdown procedures.

With the number of people cooped up inside, increased feelings of anxiety, and the desire to shop online has caused the sales of CBD products to spike across the nation.

But with the hemp derived CBD market currently unregulated, there is a growing concern that unscrupulous brands are using this opportunity to take advantage of consumers.

So how do you figure out if a brand is genuine?

Ask questions

There are some quick checks you can carry out to ensure you only buy high-quality CBD products:

  • Look for third-party testing certificates (CoAs): A CoA is an analysis carried out by a third party lab that confirms product contents, the absence of herbicides, pesticides, and other nasties. Ensure the certificates relate to the product you want to buy and that they are less than 18 months old.
  • Query where the hemp is grown: Hemp is a bio-accumulator, meaning that it picks up contaminants from the soil. CBD extracted in South East Asia has historically been subject to a higher risk of heavy metals contamination. Ideally, you want to use USDA grown hemp.
  • Reach out: If you have a question, ask the brand! Check out their social presence, message them a quick question, and see how they respond. Genuine brands are always happy to have a chat with their customers.

While the CBD market is currently unregulated here in the states, the European Union (EU) has been the first developed economy to take action to regulate via the Novel Foods Act.

What’s Novel Foods?

The problem of untested CBD products being harmful when tested is a global problem, although due to demand, its huge in the states and the EU.

The EU has classified CBD as a novel food, which means that any ingestible CBD products now need to go through a hurdle of tests to be approved for sale.

While the regulation is not EU law, it’s a directive from the European Food and Safety Authority (the equivalent of the FDA), which is now being enforced by countries locally, albeit differently across nations.

While the United Kingdom has now left the EU, it has taken the directive and confirmed it as applying under UK law. According to Nature and Bloom UK CBD brands have been placed on notice for compliance by March 2021.

What are the requirements?

For CBD products to pass the regulatory hurdles, they will need to pass a strict set of safety assessments, which can take 18 months to complete and cost over $200k.

These include completing a dossier which confirms the products have been tested for stability, shelf life, product quality, and product contents.

The rules vary depending on where in the supply chain a brand finds themselves, including:

Raw material supply chain manufacturers hold the most substantial regulatory burden. They have to outline harmonized third-party testing methods, product stability, and safety data for each type of CBD concentrate used (i.e it’s repeated in its entirety if they produce CBD Isolate and full spectrum CBD).

Finished product manufacturers have to ensure the raw CBD concentrate they use has gone through the process highlighted above. In addition, they must ensure they carry out their own stability and safety data if the CBD is combined with another ingredient (which it often is).

White label brands have to act in a consultancy capacity with their suppliers. Ensuring a combination of both the points highlighted above, if a product contains any different ingredients from those approved earlier in the supply chain, these must again go through stability and safety testing.

What can we learn from this?

The FDA has confirmed they are looking at how to regulate the CBD industry.

The novel foods act is currently the most robust and substantial set of regulations applying to CBD sold as a supplement anywhere in the world.

It’s clear by how layered these regulations are that they are an excellent benchmark to use and consider. Especially given its looking likely US federal regulation is not going to be in place before March 2021, looking over the pond and seeing how the Europeans deal with this will be interesting.


Buying high-quality CBD oil is no mean feat at the moment, and it does require some work!

Be sure to carry out the checks outlined in this post if you’re new to buying CBD online.

These quick sanity checks can save you money and ensure you find a brand you can trust moving forward.

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