The European Commission is poised to kill the EU’s hemp sector claims the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).
It says the EC recently arrived at a preliminary conclusion that extracts from industrial hemp, which would include cannabidiol, qualify as drugs in EU legislation. This has thrown a spanner into the works for current Novel Food applicants, with the freezing of all applications relating to hemp extracts and natural cannabinoids under Novel Food Regulation. However, synthetic cannabinoids are not included.
“If confirmed, this position is likely to strike the final blow to the sector and deprive farmers from a low maintenance and profitable rotation crop with the potential to bringing environmental benefits,” says the EIHA. “Cannabidiol would stay on the market but only in its synthetic form, produced via polluting chemical manufacturing.”
The IEHA’s stance is products derived from industrial hemp are not narcotic or psychotropic drugs. Industrial hemp, by definition, is very low in THC and hemp high in THC is considered marijuana; a very different plant.
The organisation says it has presented evidence hemp extracts have been widely used as food in Europe and other parts of the world for and therefore those traditional extracts should be considered under traditional food regulations. Those extracted using new methods should be considered under Novel Food regulations. A food is considered “novel” if it wasn’t widely consumed in the EU before 1997.
EIHA President Mr Daniel Kruse hypothesises the EC’s move is deliberate decision to kill the sector instead of pursuing science-based and transparent policy, and fears if confirmed it will fuel the grey market of products not manufactured to food safety standards nor marketed in line with labelling regulation.
Extracts such as cannabidiol are the most lucrative aspect of hemp, but a narcotics classification will have flow on effects for the supply other materials that can be sourced from the same crop, particularly hemp fibre.
This isn’t done and dusted yet – it’s understood the applicants caught up in the situation have been invited to provide comment; and no doubt the EIHA is continuing to lobby hard on behalf of the sector.