Healthcare regulators in the United Kingdom announced early on Monday that cannabis plant-based cannabidiol (CBD) would now be officially classified as an ingredient in medical products. The decision by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will also force medical manufacturers to meet certain standards with their CBD-based medication.
Since a number of medical producers have already been making “overt medicinal claims" about CBD-based products, the MHRA decided to create regulations in an effort to force manufactures to present products that meet certain established safety, quality, and effectiveness standards. Gerald Heddel, MHRA director of inspection and enforcement, said the following to Sky News:
"The change really came about with us offering an opinion that CBD is in fact a medicine, and that opinion was based on the fact that we noted that people were making some quite stark claims about serious diseases that could be treated with CBD."
While holding these products to high standards may seem like a step forward, some CBD users in the UK are concerned that the stricter regulations could dry out a market that is already heavily depended on.
As an example, Sky News shared the story of Louise Bostock, a mother who uses CBD products to treat her 5-year-old daughter’s brain damage induced seizures. She considers the strict regulations as an attempt to criminalize the medical value of CBD, potentially making it more difficult for her to access the products that have been helping her child. In the UK, CBD products are usually only prescribed to adults suffering from multiple sclerosis.
The MHRA’s decision comes a few months after sending cease and desist letters to CBD producers across the UK, but an assessment released by the MHRA around that time does acknowledge the medicinal benefit of CBD products. This is important, as it marks the first time cannabis has been seen as beneficial by the United Kingdom’s government. The new classification of CBD bodes well for UK patients, though they are certainly entitled to feeling threatened by a government that in the past has never looked upon cannabis in a positive light.
While the UK doesn’t recognize cannabis as a medically valuable plant, allowing CBD to be prescribed may spark a movement towards greener pastures. As of now, grows in the UK are still busted on a daily basis, but perhaps the regulation of CBD products will be the first of many moves to abolish cannabis prohibition in Great Britain.