EU officials resume review of CBD novel food applications after ditching narcotic stance

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Commercialisation du cannabidiol CBD Free movement of goods. Imports of cannabidiol oil between Member States, free movement of goods, and health protection. #eudebates #Covid_19 #coronavirus #Corona #COVD19 #Health #COVID #vaccine #RapidTests #Testing #COVIDtests #COVIDtest #CureVac #Moderna

European regulators have resumed their review of novel food authorization applications for CBD products after the commission abandoned its preliminary stance that cannabidiol should be treated as a narcotic.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, says the change comes after a landmark court decision that CBD should be freely traded among member states, instead of limited as a narcotic.

Stefan De Keersmaecker, commission spokesperson for public health and food safety, confirmed that the European Commission had changed its opinion on CBD, which had been based on a strict reading of a 1961 international drugs treaty.
Hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, were added to the EU’s Novel Foods Catalogue in January of 2019. This means that CBD foods and supplements must be evaluated for consumer safety and seek authorization from EU authorities to place them on the market.

EU authorities in July suspended the review of more than 50 applications for the novel food authorization of CBD ingredients as it weighed whether the 1961 treaty’s definition of cannabis meant CBD – as a cannabis extract – was also a drug.

The commission received some decisive input on the question last month, when five judges on the EU’s top court said CBD could be traded freely among EU member states because it was not a narcotic. The judges based their decision on a broad reading of the 1961 drug treaty, saying CBD derived from the entire hemp plant was not a narcotic under the treaty’s “purpose and general spirit.”

The Court of Justice ruling was binding and set a precedent for all EU member states and institutions.

De Keersmaecker’s full comment, made Thursday in Brussels, can be heard below.

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Advocate General Tanchev has just delivered his Opinion in B S and C A (Commercialisation du cannabidiol – CBD) (C-663/18), a case arising from a preliminary ruling request by the Appeal Court of Aix-En-Provence, France.

The case concerns a dispute on the marketing in France of an electronic cigarette, the liquid in which contains cannabidiol (CBD), a compound extracted from the hemp plant, which, in accordance with the current state of scientific knowledge, does not possess any psychotropic effects. B.S. and C.A., the directors of the company which markets that electronic cigarette under the name ‘Kanavape’, were convicted of a criminal offence in France, on the grounds that the CBD oil contained in the cigarettes’ cartridges was extracted from the whole hemp plant, including the leaves and flowers, and French legislation restricts the cultivation, importation, exportation and industrial and commercial use of hemp solely to its fibre and seeds.

By its order of reference, the French court asked the Court of Justice to provide an interpretation of the free movement of goods under Articles 28, 29, 30 and 32 TFEU and of several provisions of the Common Agricultural Policy Regulations 1307/2013 and 1308/2013. The referring court asked whether those provisions mean that the derogating provisions introduced by the French Decree of 22 August 1990, limiting the cultivation, industrialisation and marketing of hemp solely to fibre and seeds, impose a restriction incompatible with EU law.

In his Opinion today, Advocate General Tanchev proposes that the Court should rule as follows:

Neither Regulation 1307/2013, nor Regulation 1308/2013 are applicable to cannabidiol oil.
Articles 34 and 36 TFEU preclude a Member State from prohibiting the importation of cannabidiol oil from another Member State, where that oil is extracted from the whole hemp plant, and not solely from its fibre and seeds, since, in the current state of scientific knowledge, it has not been established that cannabidiol oil has psychotropic effects. It is, however, for the national court to satisfy itself that no risk associated with, inter alia, non-psychotropic effects of CBD has been identified or been the subject of a comprehensive scientific assessment, and if it were to find that such a risk existed and that there were such an assessment, to satisfy itself that an alternative measure, less restrictive on the free movement of goods, could be adopted, such as the establishment of a maximum CBD content. #eudebates

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