Under Greek law, unprocessed products gathered from the cultivation of the Cannabis Sativa L plant which contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at a concentration of less than 0,2%, are not considered to be illegal narcotic drugs. It is noted that in accordance with the new EU Common Agricultural Policy for 2023, it has been announced that this THC concentration level is intended to be increased to 0,3%.
However, the above THC level only concerns the unprocessed product gathered from the Cannabis plant, and not final products intended for consumption. Therefore, it does not mean that Cannabis-derived foods and food supplements containing THC under 0,2% are per se legal under the Greek framework.
In relation to the circulation of foodstuffs (with the exception of children’s foods), food supplements and cosmetics deriving from Cannabis Sativa L, Greek Law has provided that Ministerial Decisions shall be issued which will set the appropriate limits of THC concentration for each category of products, as well as the further requirements for the circulation of such products in the market.
On the one hand, regarding food supplements, a Ministerial Decision was published in June 2022 establishing that Cannabis supplements should not contain THC at a detectable level (i.e. the THC level should be less than 0.0001%). In addition, if the supplements contain ingredients that are “novel foods” (such as cannabidiol – CBD), the relevant authorization of the EU Novel Foods Regulation is first required.
On the other hand, regarding foodstuffs, even though a working group has been set-up at the Greek Ministry of Agriculture and Foods in order to proposethe appropriate THC limits in foods and to draft the necessary provisions that would regulate their legitimate circulation, the relevant Ministerial Decision has not yet been issued. Therefore, the issue of the legitimate circulation, marketing and advertising of “cannabis foods” currently remains a grey legal area.
In addition to the above, it is noted that cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD), which do not have a history of consumption in the EU prior to 1997, fall under the category of “novel foods” and, therefore, their circulation needs first to be authorized according to the relevant EU Regulation 2283/2015. The competent authority regarding novel foods in Greece is the General Chemical Laboratory of the State. In relation to the issue of CBD as a novel food, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a statement in June 2022, indicating that the safety of CBD for human consumption as a food (not as medicine) cannot currently be established, and that more data will be needed in order to complete the assessment.
At the same time, some products deriving from certain edible natural parts of the Cannabis Sativa L plant, such as seeds, seed oil, seed flour, have been consumed in the EU prior to 1997 according to the EU novel food catalogue, and therefore are not subject to the Novel Foods Regulation (provided that they do not contain other ingredients that are “novel foods”, such as CBD). However, as mentioned above, relevant legal provisions are still expected to be issued in Greece in order to regulate the appropriate THC levels of such “cannabis foods”.
The current situation in the Greek market is that a number of Cannabis foodstuffs (and food supplements) are advertised online and are available for purchase in a growing number of e-shops and physical stores, most of which specialize in selling specifically this category of products.
Nevertheless, it follows from the above that there are still many grey areas regarding the legality of marketing and circulation of Cannabis foods in Greece, under the current, blurry, legal framework.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.