EUROPEAN regulators are still processing over two dozen CBD Novel Food applications, BusinessCann can reveal.
In July, it emerged the European Commission (EC) had halted Novel Food applications after choosing to view CBD as a narcotic and not a food.
At the time it felt like a hammer blow to the continent’s CBD industry, but the EC has confirmed to BusinessCann that it is still considering around half of the 50 applications it has received.
And, there may yet prove to be a lifeline for a compliant European CBD sector.
No CBD From ‘Flowering And Fruiting Tops’
The applications still in the system are being allowed to proceed as they consist of CBD extracted from hemp – Cannabis Sativa – fibres and seeds.
Whilst those for CBD derived from the flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant, have been halted.
In January 2019, the EC decided to classify CBD as a Novel Food whilst failing to make a distinction between which parts of the plant it was derived.
In July this year, it emerged that the EC now considers CBD extracted from the flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant a narcotic, as defined under the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (SCND).
Those submitted Novel Food applications for CBD, it now views as a narcotic, have been halted for two months to allow applicants to make further submissions on their validity.
Applications for the remaining, non-narcotic, CBD batch are still being considered by the EC.
‘Narcotic’ CBD Cannot Be A Food
The UK-based Canna Consultants were the first to report on this changing approach of the EC to CBD as is defined under the 1961 SCND.
The Canna Consultants Director and co-founder Matt Lawson told BusinessCann: “Governments and the EC who wanted to make the point about CBD as a narcotic, should have been speaking up in January 2019 and saying, ‘CBD is not a novel food, because it cannot be a food’.
“They didn’t and, in consequence, led market participants to believe that they could invest on the principle that they could secure a positive outcome for their products.”
Deepak Anand, Chief Executive Officer at Materia, a medical cannabis and CBD wellness company, focused on the European market, said: “The European Commission should not have classified CBD as a novel food in January 2019. Based on this, it was incumbent upon them to have clarified the fruiting versus non-fruiting part.”
A European CBD Avenue Emerging
“CBD derived through the non-fruiting part of the plant isn’t as high – potency-wise – as the fruiting part of the plant but if that the only option the EC decides to permit and doesn’t consider it a Narcotic, I do see it being interesting and really the only avenue for CBD brands looking at the European market. As a result, we might expect increased applications for products derived therein.
“The regulatory situation with respect to CBD and Novel Foods in Europe is extremely volatile for any mainstream CBD brand to consider. Particularly those that want to comply with the regulations entirely or companies that might be publicly listed.”
The EC told BusinessCann that as far as it is concerned it has not changed its position on CBD and has always viewed it through the prism of the 1961 SCND.
EC Blowback On KanaVape Case
However, Mr Lawson believes the potential ramifications of the high-profile KanaVape case have shifted its stance.
To briefly summarise; earlier this year, following a six-year court battle an advisor to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled cannabidiol, or CBD, shouldn’t considered a ‘narcotic’ drug.
This has yet to be ratified by the ECJ, with a decision expected next month.
Mr Lawson added: “Surely the time for the EC to have had a ‘preliminary view’ – and announced it – was in January 2019 when it declared CBD as a novel food.
“Given that it must have been aware that the CBD upon which it was adjudicating emanated from the fruiting and flowering tops – as opposed to the fibre and seed – the announcement should have come in two parts – novel food, if from fibre and seed, and narcotic, if from flowering and fruiting tops.
“Is it that they only decided to deploy this tactic when it became clear to France that it was going to lose the KanaVape issue?”
CBD levels in stalks, seeds and stems of the hemp plant are much less than those founds in the leaves and the flowers.
Moves to amend the status of CBD under the SCND are likely to be made at a United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting scheduled for December this year.