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Portman Group sets out guidance for UK brands

Any references to CBD should be done in a factual and ‘non-emotive’ way, adds the group – ultimately urging producers to seek legal advice before placing products with CBD on the market.

Meanwhile, any words or images which make reference to recreational cannabis (which is illegal) should be avoided; as should also claims about health or mood change.

With the CBD market evolving with more and more entrants, the Portman Group, the alcohol industry’s self-regulator, has set out its guidance on marketing the cannabinoid. However, the law around such products is complex – and likely to be even more so when considered with alcohol – while the Portman Group itself has an advisory rather than legal weight in determining which products are acceptable.

References to cannabis? No

CBD products are a fast-growing market in F&B. While less common, CBD alcohol products are also emerging.

In January 2019, CBD products were accorded novel food status in the UK. However, the law on the use of CBD in food and drink products is complex​ ​and the Portman Group takes the stance that, by issuing guidance, this ‘does not imply that the inclusion of CBD in alcoholic drinks is legally permitted’​ – urging producers to seek legal advice before placing CBD drinks on the market.

It is important, notes the Portman Group, to make the distinction between CBD and cannabis. Given that cannabis is illegal, any words or imagery that create an association between cannabis and CBD should be avoided. This could include pictures of distinctively shaped cannabis leaves or packaging with a hallucinogenic look.

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