EUROPEAN trade groups have condemned the European Commission’s decision to classify CBD a narcotic and are fighting back to overturn it.
In Germany, the recently-formed Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW) has written to senior minsters and its members are lobbying European Parliamentarians.
Its President Dr Stefan Meyer told BusinessCann that with over three million regular CBD users in Germany, including many older people, this could have damaging consequences to their health and well-being.
He said: “There are no scientific reasons to declare CBD as a narcotic, and nobody needs another black market.
“So, it is in the interests of all parties involved to continue to provide consumers with safe products. We, as the cannabis industry, would be happy to join the Federal government in establishing a practical and sensibly regulated market for cannabinoids.”
In an interview with German news website Kruatinvest he continued in the same vein: “Almost the entire CBD industry in Europe is about to end. Hemp growers, import, export, extractors, producers, distributors, retailers, and many more.”
Four French Trade Groups Condemn Narcotic Shift
In France, four of the most senior CBD-related trade bodies have joined forces to to attempt to overturn the narcotic move.
These include Synadiet, the National Union of Food Supplements, the French perfume association, Iteipmai, plant and wellness body Phytolia and the French Medical Cannabis and Wellness Hemp Union – SPC.
In joint open letter to regulators they say: “If the Commission confirmed its position, it would have dramatic repercussions for the entire hemp sector.”
It highlights the damage that could be caused across all sectors of the supply chain from producers to manufacturers, distributors and consumers.
And, they highlight a concern on the lips of many who object to he EC stance that it would condemn the ‘well-being CBD market to the pharmaceutical operators’.
They conclude: “We, representatives of the hemp players in France and of the entire value chain, from seed to finished product, solemnly ask the French authorities to defend our sector, to take a stand for consumers and to ensure the survival of farmers as well as entrepreneurs who invest in this promising sector.”
Only CBD from Fibres And Seeds?
The narcotic issue came to light in June when it emerged that the EC had halted some Novel Food applications as it no longer considered CBD as a food and, as such, it could not be sold in its 27 member states.
This position aligns with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which says cannabinoids from the flowering and fruiting tops of the Cannabis Sativa plant fall under international drug treaties.
However, earlier this week BusinessCann revealed that the EC is still considering Novel Food applications from CBD firms using only extracts from the fibres and seeds of the hemp plant.
Some commentators say the EC’s decision to change its stance in CBD – which has yet to be ratified – is due to a growing concerns it will lose the KanaVape case which is due for a final ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) next month.
Speaking in relation to the latest developments, Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, of French cannabis consultants Augur Associates, said: “This follow-up only adds to the current nonsense started by the Novel Food classification of CBD in January 2019.
‘Misinformed European Bureaucracy’
“Nothing justifies the classification of CBD in regards to its origin, neither the 1961 convention, nor in scientific or economic terms.
“This projected billions-of-Euros-industry on the continent is being put at risk by a misinformed European Commission bureaucracy.
“France is currently not enforcing the Novel Food catalogue, nor regulating CBD for the moment, as authorities are waiting on the ECJ decision and on the publication of a parliamentary fact-finding mission report on cannabis uses, scheduled for early next year.”
US firm Mile High Labs is focused on white label CBD manufacturing, with a strong presence in the European and UK markets.
Christian Hendriksen, Vice-President for International Expansion at Mile High Labs, said: “We consider CBD to be a food and this is a very frustrating development for the industry.
Growing Pains Of A Pioneering Industry?
“While it lacks regulation, over a year and a half ago we were told that everyone needs to go down Novel Food authorisation route, and then later we run into this issue, that it should not be a food in the first place.
“This causes trouble, but I guess that this is part of the growing pains of being in a pioneering industry where everything is still so uncertain.”
However, in the UK these developments are presenting its industry an opportunity to become the continent’s primary CBD player, where no such threats to the status of CBD exist.
A point not lost on its trade groups, as Dr Parveen Bhatarah, Regulatory and Compliance Unit Lead at the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, elaborated.
UK To Be Europe’s CBD Powerhouse
“Any decisions concerning CBD in Europe would have little impact on the UK market, and could even be a golden opportunity for our domestic CBD industry, which is estimated to be worth £1bn by 2025.
“The UK Foods Standards Agency (FSA) has on record said that they follow the lead of the Home Office who categorically say CBD is not a narcotic.
“The FSA had always been in agreement with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) when they initially said that CBD is a novel food and products need to go through a safety and risk assessment before they can be legally sold as a food supplement.
“As the UK is about to go its separate way to the rest of the European Union, the FSA has put in place a plan to bring the equivalent of novel foods assessment in-house. This leaves the UK with an excellent opportunity to take the lead and define the safety standards for the sustainable future of the CBD industry.”