Will the EU Become Hemp and CBD Friendly?
Progress was made as a result of a meeting with European hemp stakeholders and representatives of the EU Commission
The population of the European Union, at over 500 million, is a market only slightly smaller than that of North America. The result is a tremendous market opportunity for CBD and hemp flower products.
Europe’s new and fast-growing industry was placed on hold on January 20th when updates were made to the EU’s “Novel Foods Catalogue.” These updates related to the use of CBD, other cannabinoids and hemp-derived products in food. These new regulations stated:
“Without prejudice to the information provided in the novel food catalogue for the entry relating to Cannabis sativa L., extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and derived products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods as a history of consumption has not been demonstrated. This applies to both the extracts themselves and any products to which they are added as an ingredient (such as hemp seed oil). This also applies to extracts of other plants containing cannabinoids. Synthetically obtained cannabinoids are considered as novel.”
The European Union’s “Novel Food Regulations” require that any food product that is “novel” requires approval from the European Commission before it can be sold as a food or food supplement in the EU. The problem for Europe’s CBD and hemp flower oil industries is that on January 20th, updates were made to the EU’s “Novel Foods Catalogue” related to the use of CBD, other cannabinoids and hemp-derived products in food.
The EU defines “novel food” as a product not consumed in the EU, to any significant degree, before May 1997. The EU’s novel food regulations apply to all food, food supplements, additives and substances added to food. The problem for Europe’s hemp and CBD industries is that classification as a novel food requires a more burdensome regulatory environment due to the complex and stringent approval process.
Last week, European hemp and CBD stakeholders met with representatives of the European Commission. Industry leaders provided historical evidence from Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden that hemp containing CBD had been consumed on the European continent for centuries, even though the cannabinoid, CBD, had not been discovered. At the meeting industry participants also cited a recipe for a hemp dish from a Vatican chef for Pope Martin V in the 1500s.
After the meeting, industry representatives were generally upbeat that the EU’s official definition of CBD and hemp oil products as “novel foods” would be overturned.
In the meantime, CBD and hemp flower products continue to be readily available in the European black market.
What are our conclusions?
The EU’s well-known and slow-moving bureaucracy, who are often referred to as the “Grey Suits” in Brussels, are definitely a problem. But, the European market for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPGs) containing CBD and hemp will be a tremendous market opportunity. We’re strong advocates that both European and global CPG companies should develop their European hemp and CBD strategies now. This will in their being positioned as early-entrants to a new and very large market in the world’s fast-growing legal cannabis industry.