European Commission hits pause on natural CBD products — but synthetic CBD is okay

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The European Commission (EC) has suspended new applications for food products containing natural CBD while it considers labelling such products as “narcotics-related.”

The commission has reached a “preliminary conclusion” that extracts from the flowerings of hemp plants should be considered a drug under the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, reports Hemp Today. 

“The Commission’s preliminary view is that CBD extracted from the flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant should be considered as a narcotic falling under the United Nations Single Convention,” the EC said.

In response, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) said in a statement to Hemp Today that this decision could be the “final blow to the sector.”

“Industrial hemp and its downstream products are not narcotic or psychotropic drugs, and therefore are clearly exempted from the scope of the Single Convention,” the association argues. 

The restriction applies to novel food products, which are defined as products that were not widely consumed before May 1997. As a result, about 50 product applications have been paused, reports Just Food.

Hemp-derived CBD products are widely available across North America, as well as many European countries like Germany, Czech Republic, and Greece. 

While the EC mulls the decision about selling natural CBD, new products that contain synthetic CBD will still be approved. Previously approved products are also permitted to continue sales.

“Novel Food applications for synthetic CBD which is not extracted from the plant, continue in the approval process,” the Commission said, reports Hemp Today

The EIHA, meanwhile, said that permitting synthetic but not natural hemp extracts is “nonsense from a scientific and environmental point of view.”

The association argues that ruling against natural extracts will hurt farmers and food business operations during a time of global crisis. 

“If hemp extracts become a drug, it will not be the farmers and SMEs benefiting from the success of the hemp industry, but only those big companies that can afford the synthetic production of chemicals,” Lorenza Romanese, Managing Director of EIHA, told Hemp Today

“That’s an absurdity we cannot afford nor accept.” 

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