UK CBD guidelines like “grenade”, says Mindful Brands boss

Craig Hutchison said he does not believe that the FSA science is clear.

Henry Mathieu October 19 2023

Mindful Brands CEO and founder Craig Hutchison has expressed “shock” and “confusion” at the UK’s new guidelines on recommended doses of CBD.

Speaking in a panel discussion at the Spirits Strategies and Innovation Conference 2023 in London, Hutchison labelled the announcement as a “little bit of a grenade”.

“You know, obviously, we support the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and we’re all working within the non-foods process,” Hutchison said.

“But our view was that CBD is a somewhat benign product. It does help you relax but in terms of danger, this has never been discussed. And we were talking about much higher levels. We thought the 70 milligrams per day was already very, very low and so it’s unfair that this has just come out of the blue.”

Last week, the FSA reduced its recommended daily consumption limit of CBD from 70mg to 10mg.

The food regulator said the change was based on “new evidence from the industry and updated advice from our independent scientific committee”.

It said high consumption of CBD over a lifetime could heighten the risk of liver damage, somnolence (excessive tiredness) and thyroid issues.

At the Arena – Just Drinks’ sister events company – conference, Hutchison continued: “For some of our own botanical spirits, you know, we’ve had 5mg per serve, so we’re okay, but some of the ready-to-drinks are well above, just with one single serve above the 10mg per day.”

Mindful Brands produces one non-alcoholic spirit infused with CBD extract, called Maria and Craig’s – named after Hutchison and co-founder Maria Sehlstrom. The 500ml bottle contains 50mg of CBD (5mg of CBD per serving).

“It’s tough out there in the functional space, there is no legal framework, how do you raise financing, how do you get listings, and we want a bit of support because we’re trying to bring great products, great experiences back into society,” Hutchison added.

“In a way, alcohol is protected because if we were just introducing alcohol to society now it would not get through the FSA. I think we all accept that, we all realise that, and therefore, we have to be responsible in how it’s marketed, especially in times like this.

“So now we need to look at the science. If it is clear, which I don’t believe it is, and speaking to people yesterday saying it’s not, then we’ll need to have these discussions.”

When asked by Tim Blake, founder of non-alcoholic spirits brand Crossip, about the transparency of the new guidelines, Hutchison admitted he had not read the “research document” that accompanied the new regulations.

He said: “I believe that potentially, they [the FSA] used one ingredient that was an inferior CBD ingredient.

“You know, we need to now go back, but I mean, these are really costly things to do, and take loads of time, where we’re trying to really grow the category. Brands are falling by the wayside all the time. And it just means if any young entrepreneur now wants to get into the space, they will be really put off.”

Speaking recently to Just Drinks, Hutchison delved into the company’s plans to target North America expansion with its latest non-alcoholic brand, a Tequila alternative called Soldadera.

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