Europe’s booming CBD market is at risk of going bust after food officials recategorised cannabidiol as a novel food, effectively outlawing its sale across the union.
The European Food Safety Authority said the substance must undergo further testing before it is approved, a process which could take two years.
Bureaucrats at the European Commission’s (EC) Working Group of Novel Foods were responsible, and their move follows similar efforts in the UK where the Food Standards Agency (FSA) called for a wholesale ban on CBD.
The EU Novel Food catalog now officially lists CBD as an unauthorized Novel Food, stating: “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.”
European leaders clearly did not get the memo; cannabis products like hemp and CBD are in vogue, and making Canadian and US investors lots of money, and they should change the rules, right?
Well not quite, and perhaps everyone in Europe is getting a little too excited as “CBD” floods high streets and health shops. The Cannabis Trade Association UK puts the number of CBD users at over 250,000, doubling the previous year’s figure.
How much of this is good quality, or even passable quality, or even CBD is anyone’s guess given how quickly some sellers have emerged.
In the UK, Cannabis is still a controlled Class B drug the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 last time we checked, and CBD is a most definitely a chemical substance found in cannabis.
The Home Office updated legislation in November allowing cannabis to technically be prescribed by specialists however this appears to be only once in a blue moon if Mars and Jupiter are also aligned and a groundhog emerging from Buckingham Palace on the first day of spring sees the shadow of a pot leaf.
Austria and Spain have also had enough of the relentless CBD shilling currently going on and have banned its sale, both citing the ‘novel food’ legislation.
What is a ‘novel food’ anyway?
Novel food under European law is food that was not consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the regulation entered force. It can be of plant or animal origin, resulting from scientific and technological research, or from the food traditions or cultures of third countries.
The underlying principles underpinning Novel Food in the EU are that Novel Foods must be:
- Safe for consumers
- Properly labeled, so as not to mislead consumers
- If novel food is intended to replace another food, it must not differ in a way that the consumption of the Novel Food would be nutritionally disadvantageous for the consumer
- Pre-market authorization of Novel Foods on the basis of evaluation in line with the above principles is necessary
Fans of the McRib can breathe easy, despite being one of the most foul creations to ever find itself on a menu, it is not classed a novel food.
(Editors Note: For fans of the McRib you may be interested to learn the following information after Time Magazine decided to research what this wonderful food source actually contained……..”The McRib is back, and it is disgusting. TIME Magazine looked at what’s actually in the infamous invention at McDonald’s, and the results aren’t pretty:“If you haven’t indulged in one yet, here’s what you’re missing: azodicarbonamide, ammonium sulfate and polysorbate 80 — those are just three of the 70 ingredients (34 in the bun alone) that go into the BBQ pork sandwich, according to the restaurant’s website.These components are in small enough quantities to be innocuous. But it’s still a little disconcerting to know that, for example, azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent that is most commonly used in the manufacture of foamed plastics like in gym mats and the soles of shoes, is found in the McRib bun. The compound is banned in Europe and Australia as a food additive. (England’s Health and Safety Executive classified it as a ‘respiratory sensitizer’ that potentially contributes to asthma through occupational exposure.) The U.S. limits azodicarbonamide to 45 parts per million in commercial flour products, based on analysis of lab testing.”If that’s not nasty enough for you, the gelatinous, manufactured, meat-like patty in the McRib is made using “restructured meat technology,” a term which has thankfully been defined for the masses.
Unsurprisingly, Europe’s pro-cannabis lobby groups are annoyed.
The Alliance for Natural Health International, a non-governmental organisation promoting natural and sustainable approaches to healthcare worldwide, even went as far as to blame Big Pharma.
“Why the sudden U-turn by EFSA? Is it because the CBD oil industry’s growth has exceeded all expectations presently eating into pharma sales of painkillers?” the group wrote. “Or is it because some current market players are not conducting themselves in a professionally self-regulated manner? Maybe there are some genuine safety or quality concerns over some products on the market? Or was there undue pressure from enforcement agencies, which were in turn leaned on by pharma, in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands that forced EFSA’s hand?”
The group cited a 2016 study which estimated medical cannabis use (extracts including THC) in the US has already cost Big Pharma nearly $166m annually, and could top $5bn from profits going forwards. “We know pharma hasn’t got much interest in selling , naturally-sourced, low cost medicines,” ANHI added.
With the projected dollar amounts set to erode the over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller market (globally valued at $491 billion USD in 2018), the recent regulatory challenges are understandable, the group said, before laying into the regulators.
“It may sound conspiratorial, but the facts would suggest people in suits behind closed doors have decided the market needs knee-capping before it grows any further,” they said. “It’s not surprising to find regulatory opposition to a food supplement that has application for so many. The fact that CBD has been consumed in hemp oil as part of the diet for many decades, along with the lack of a level playing field for supercritical extractions, should, in our view, form the backbone of the much-needed defence.”
A similar tale of woe is emerging from Austria, where the tentacles of Big Pharma have again been blamed for nobbling one of Europe’s busiest CBD markets.
With some careful nudging, the government dusted off an old playbook and proposed CBD be banned from cosmetics following the restriction of cannabis in cosmetics referred by the European law for such ingredients.
So banned from eating it, and drinking it, you can’t even smear it on your face any longer either.
While the bottles of CBD oil are being removed from shelves, various hemp associations are calling their lawyers.
The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), in October 2018, told the European Commission on the traditional or novel food status of hemp extracts: “Hemp extracts and tinctures (hemp oil) were indeed made and sold in products, which would nowadays be ‘supplements’ up to 80 years ago”, which looks very much to us like the beginnings of a legalistic nerd-off.
Expect this one to run.