The European Commission (EC) is fighting to reclassify CBD as a “novel food”, meaning that cannabidiol and hemp-derived food supplements will soon be illegal to sell throughout the entire continent.
Although this isn’t an official ruling, a final opinion on this amendment is coming next month, in March 2019. According the Commission’s Working Group of Novel Foods in Europe, the safety of adding cannabinoids – such as CBD – to food and supplements has not yet been demonstrated. This applies to extracts from cannabis and hemp, as well as any other plant that contains cannabinoids, plus the products themselves. This is no surprise considering what’s been going on in the UK, Austria, Spain and other EU countries.
While most of the action is happening east of the Atlantic, major forces are making similar moves in the US, as we can see from the latest crackdown on CBD edibles in New York and Maine.
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CBD novel food?
There is a light on the horizon, however. The European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) is considering allowing a novel food application for up to 130 mg of CBD in food supplements for adult use. Should it pass, products are expected to be available within 7 months.
The Industrial Hemp Association of Europe (EIHA) was asked for their input on the ruling and whether CBD and hemp-derived products should be considered traditional or novel food items. “Hemp extracts and tinctures were indeed made and sold in products, which would nowadays be “supplements” up to 80 years ago,” a spokesperson for the EIHA replied. “Hemp flowers used for the production of beer-like beverages have been recognized as food ingredients by the European Commission since 1998. For these reasons [and others], EIHA requests the European Commission to recognize hemp extracts with naturally occurring CBD levels as traditional in food.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) – which has recently stated that CBD is safe and well-tolerated by most people – also has an opinion on the subject. Medical nutritionist and health journalist Dr. Sarah Brewer believes this new classification is entirely for regulatory/technicality reasons and not related to safety at all.
For reference, the novel food legislation in Europe covers any food or ingredient that hasn’t been in widespread use prior to 1997, and unfortunately, that includes CBD. All “newer” food products are now subject to authorization procedures to prove their safety. Much like state vs federal laws in the United States, each country in Europe will be able to make certain changes to the novel food statutes, which a proper vote. So far, Germany, Italy, France, UK, and the Netherlands have support from 17 member states.
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