CBD maker Jersey Hemp wins landmark legal battle against UK Home Office

A CBD operator from the island of Jersey has won a landmark legal case against the UK Home Office, which had banned the importation of its products due to small amounts of THC.

Jersey Hemp Ltd. successfully argued that its products were under an import exemption that allowed products containing less than 1 milligram of THC.

The Home Office had ruled that while CBD in its pure form is not a medicine, if a CBD product contains THC, the product itself should be considered a controlled substance, leading the Drugs and Firearms Licensing Unit to challenge Jersey Hemp products in July 2023.

But the government eventually conceded to the High Court that its ban on importing Jersey Hemp products was not justified under UK drug laws, Judge Stephen Eyre said in a recently made public judicial review decision .

The process by which CBD is extracted from industrial hemp flowers often leaves traces of THC.

“The manufacturing process attempts to remove all controlled cannabinoids, including THC, to the extent possible,” Jersey Hemp told the court in its application for judicial review, adding that its products are not specifically designed to as a way to deliver THC.

“An illegal decision”

The thing to keep in mind is that a CBD product is designed for the administration of CBD to humans or animals. It is not designed for the administration of THC that is sometimes left in the products in trace amounts due to the manufacturing process, Josh Normanton, an attorney who advised Jersey Hemp, told Business of Cannabis..

It was an illegal decision. Their interpretation of the exempt product criteria was too restrictive and fell into error, and they also misinterpreted their own policy, Normanton said.

Jersey Hemp also said it complied with the exemption requirement that there are “no readily applicable means” to remove traces of THC from its CBD products.

Not definitive

While the court victory sets a positive precedent, it does not provide a final judgment, leaving open the question of whether the exemption at issue in the case applies to all CBD products, and leaving it up to industry players to interpret the regulations existing in a legal vacuum.

About 12,000 CBD products are being considered for market authorization as novel or novel foods by the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA). The Jersey case highlighted the still unclear regulations on hemp-derived products, which flooded the market in the UK and elsewhere unregulated over the past five years.

Jersey Hemps products have presumably been on the market in the UK since at least 13 February 2020, as required by the FSA’s safety approval process, which aims to clean up the CBD gray market that existed before this date. Seven Jersey Hemp CBD products remain under FSA review, according to websites tracking the approval process.

Company in difficulty

Despite the legal victory, Jersey Hemp said the loss of access to the UK market had forced it to lay off staff and sell equipment, and that rebuilding the business will require a major financial deal from the government, a prospect which it is not necessarily guaranteed.

As a Crown Dependency, Jersey has close political and economic ties to the UK, but is independent in trade relations, so import and export licenses are required for products crossing the border. In addition, to export cannabis out of Jersey, licenses are required under the Islands Misuse of Drugs Act 1978 and must be obtained for each consignment.

Jersey Hemp received a license to grow hemp for CBD in 2019, gaining government support. At the time, the company stated that it was developing the capacity to produce 30 to 40 tons of hemp annually and announced that it had secured the 2 million ($2.68 million) investment needed to compete with producers in the China, Eastern Europe and America, where most of the CBD sold in the UK is made.

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Image Source : hemptoday.net

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