Saturday 28 March, 2020

CBD products pulled from local shelves

Photo via Medical News Today.

Photo via Medical News Today.

Is CBD oil illegal?

This was the question posed to Director of Chemistry, Food and Drugs Faaz Khan when he appeared before a Joint Select Committee on Friday as it convened a public hearing into an inquiry into Consumer Awareness.

Cannabidiol oil, commonly known as CBD oil, is a product derived from marijuana plants. Even though it comes from cannabis plants, CBD doesn't create a “high” feeling or any form of intoxication.

CBD oil boasts a range of health benefits including reducing pain and inflammation.

Products purporting to be CBD oil are being sold in T&T.

Khan noted that some of these products have been pulled from shelves as policy guidelines are drawn up to treat with CBD and similar products.

In responding to the question of legality of the products as posed by Vice Chairman of the Committee, Clarence Rambharat, the Chemistry, Food and Drugs Director explained the current position on these products.

He noted that once a medical claim is made and the CBD potency is above 0.2 percent then it falls within the parameters of a drug and is required to go through the registration process.

Khan explained that the current procedure is one where the division would hold all CBD products or refuse entry to them onto the local domestic mark.

He admitted that the division is seeing an increase in the number of CBD products but the 13-member inspectorate is doing its due diligence to treat with this.

“We have pulled products from the market that purport to be CBD or CBD product. I have to acknowledge that there are CBD products and it is an issue that we are looking at to see how best to treat with it.

Within a short time the Drug Advisory Committee will be developing a policy and guidelines to cover and cater for CBD products and other similar/like products that is entering the product.”

Khan said part of the challenge in treating with CBD products is that the division has not yet evaluated its safety, effectiveness or use.

“It has not been evaluated by Chemistry, Food and Drugs. We were unable to verify the safety as well as the efficacy and use of the product within the domestic market.”

The issue of regulation of CBD products is not unique to T&T. British regulators are also trying to monitor the influx of CBD products with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) threatening to pull products from the shelves if they are not registered by March 2021. The Agency has also issued new advice on CBD use, saying it should not be used alongside other medication.

In terms of THC, a derivative from cannabis plants which has psychoactive properties, Khan said this is considered a narcotic and would be subject to a different regime of assessment.

Meanwhile, Hazmath Ali, Registrar of pesticides and toxic chemicals, Chemistry Food and Drugs Division of the Health Ministry, gave an update on the status of the Chemistry Food and Drug laboratory, which has been non-functional for several years.

Staff have been redeployed elsewhere as renovations on the lab continue.

Work is also being done to improve the quality process and developing standards, in hopes of becoming accredited.

Ali noted that the evaluation of tenders is ongoing and it’s expected that the lab will be reopened in the second quarter of 2020.

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