Healthy living

then the products will be legally marketable all over Europe in three years at the latest. The market growth will be extremely significant.”

The EU Commission has since confirmed in writing to the EIHA that CBD is classified as a potential food and not as a narcotic.

The EIHA proved that industrial hemp is an agricultural product, not a drug.

US, where CBD-related products have been successfully marketed for ten years. Current European regulations mean that the results of US trials cannot be used to justify health claims on the other side of the Atlantic. Researchers in Europe will have to conduct their own studies on the safety of the products. In terms of health regulations for low-dosage food supplements, only physiological properties can be claimed, while high-dosage products with pharmacological effects would be classified as medicine.

“The CBD market has exploded because of consumer demand, but in spite of the fact that these products exist and are being marketed, they are in a grey area.”

Daniel Kruse $1.8bn Statista 72

The expected reach of US consumer sales of cannabidiol (CBD) by 2022, which would represent a large increase from around $500m in 2018.

In July 2020, the European Commission issued the preliminary conclusion that CBD might be classified as a narcotic – a devastating decision for the market– putting the whole sector on the brink of collapse. The EIHA, however, acted swiftly to provide the necessary science-based evidence to prove that industrial hemp is an agricultural product, not a drug. Fortunately, a ruling in November by the European Court of Justice may have marked a turning point in the bans on CBD sales and the potential classification of CBD as a narcotic. It stated that an EU member state may not prohibit the marketing of CBD legally produced in another EU country because CBD does not have psychotropic or harmful effects on human health. “This marks the beginning of the end of the arbitrary stigmatisation of CBD,” says Kruse. “In the future, both European and national courts, politicians, and authorities will have to follow the path of the Court’s reasoning. If the hemp industry keeps being proactive and comes up with safety assessments and standards,

“I certainly believe that the more we educate about hemp, the more consumers and especially decision- makers understand the value this plant has to offer as a multipurpose agricultural crop,” says Lorenza Romanese, managing director of EIHA. “Of course, our education and advocacy actions need to be accompanied by science and a legal clarity.” The EIHA’s has put forward a Novel Food Consortium, supported by 189 members, and has submitted Novel Foods applications for natural CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD, and it envisages exhaustive toxicological studies. It is seeking the adoption of a definition of ‘industrial hemp’ at EU level, which would ensure hemp extracts and CBD- containing products are not considered a drug. “The CBD market has exploded because of consumer demand, but in spite of the fact that these products exist and are being marketed, they are in a grey area,” says Kruse. “The lack of clarity concerning hemp regulations around Europe has created a situation where operators don’t know what products can be marketed and how they should be marketed to be compliant with the law. Moreover, it has also led to a lack of professionalism in the sector. The regulatory treatment of hemp has not been in line with the development of the market for CBD oil. That is why a revision of the regulations in place needs to be carried out.”

If the US and Europe can define clear legislation for the production and trade of hemp and its derivatives, the brakes will come off growth for the CBD market. From there, there is potential to explore more than 100 other cannabinoids including cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN) and Delta-8-THC. “The cannabis plant is very innovative,” remarks Stark. “More potential uses are always emerging. The problem is that, with the current regulatory environment, there are not only some great producers out there, but also some sketchy ones. We will get there, but it will be years before the FDA figures out how to regulate it. It has not been in this position before with a product that has gone so far before it had figured out how to regulate CBD and all of the other cannabinoids.”

As the EIHA has proved, education of both regulators and potential consumers is the key – and the fate of CBD is depends on it. With the rising popularity of CBD on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems inevitable that consumer demand will win the day in the end. ●

Ingredients Insight /


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