An article by Jessy Pohler

CBD ban looms: classification of CBD as an addictive drug?

While the United States continues to move towards looser regulations on hemp products and cannabidiol, the EU is taking the opposite course. According to the latest reports, the European Food Safety Authority is considering classifying CBD-containing foods as narcotics – with far reaching consequences for an entire economic factor.

CBD EU ban: The basis

According to projections, the equivalent of 1.4 billion euros (source: https://harrisbricken.com/cannalawblog/hemp-cbd-across-europe-deutschland/) will be generated by hemp and CBD-containing products in Europe by 2023. But now a licence withdrawal is to be blamed for the fact that CBD could be banned again. First of all, it has to be clarified how such a licensing process actually works. As mentioned, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for this.

This authority has classified CBD as a “novel food“. Accordingly, any ingredient of a food that was not consumed to any significant extent within the EU before 1997 is classified as a “novel food”. In addition, each of these novel foods must have a licence, which is granted as follows:

  1. Application Assessment
    The applicant must submit an online application for the assessment of Article 10 of the European
    Food Safety Authority Regulation. Once this has been received in full, including a toxicological opinion, it will be assessed whether the substance is safe for human consumption.
  2. Safety assessment
    Once the application has been assessed as valid, EFSA carries out a risk or safety assessment.
  3. Authorisation
    Within seven months of the positive safety assessment, a draft is presented to the Commission,     which finally approves the novel food to be included in the EU catalogue and be published.

This process takes three to four years and costs between €300 and €400,000. It has to be said that each individual product that differs from the approved product also has to go through the above mentioned procedure. Costs and duration until approval can therefore be immeasurable.

The latest developments at a glance: CBD EU ban

Since mid-July 2020, the EU has been considering declaring CBD-containing foods as narcotics. According to reports, 50 hemp farmers have already been informed by letter that the EFSA considers natural hemp products to be narcotics. Accordingly, these products are not legal and should not be sold. More specifically, it means the end of legal sales of products containing cannabidiol (CBD for short) – but only for foodstuffs containing CBD of natural origin. Synthetically produced CBD and cosmetics are exempt from the CBD EU ban.

CBD ban looms: European Industrial Hemp Association opposes it

Those who want to fight hard against the reclassification of natural hemp products are the European Industrial Hemp Association – EIHA. If CBD were to be banned again, the industry would be threatened with extinction. The association of the hemp processing industry represents the common interests of commercial hemp growers as well as industrial processors of commercial hemp at national and European level.

They argue that there is a difference between hemp extracts and isolates. According to them, foods containing isolated CBD are really new – whereas not all CBD products can be lumped together with isolates, as hemp has basically had a use in history since time immemorial – whether in the medicinal or culinary field.

CBD EU ban: The outlook

If the EU does not change its mind regarding the use of natural hemp plants, synthetically produced products will have to be resorted to. This in turn means the end for a large number of hemp farmers, who in neighboring Austria alone earn around 250 million euros per year with the crop.

If the EU bans CBD of natural origin again, it will not only mean the collapse of an economic factor, but the end of an entire industry that is currently flourishing better than ever. The EU’s decision is expected at the beginning of December. Until then, we will have to wait and see whether CBD will really be classified as a narcotic and whether a CBD EU ban is imminent.

Photo: IRA_EVVA / Shutterstock

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