Cannabis Industry Fights Back Against European Commission’s CBD Missteps

THE European Commission has been urged to stick to its guns on the status of CBD by trade groups representing hundreds of businesses across the continent.

BusinessCann reported yesterday how the EC was considering taking on board the hard-line of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on the status of CBD.

If adopted this would see CBD restricted to the medicine cabinet and, as result cause widespread harm to the continent’s £1bn-plus CBD food supplement industry.

However senior industry figures have hit back at both the EC and INCB saying they need to closely consider the scientific evidence – as presented by the World Health Organisation (see below) – on the safety of CBD and reject efforts to deem it a narcotic drug.

This comes as it emerged that the final draft of the INCB’s hotly-disputed Cannabis Initiative is due for release n the next few weeks.

‘Stick To The Science’

Jürgen Neumeyer, Managing Director of the German Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW), acknowledged that if ‘INCB’s considerations become law, it would be another blow to the CBD market’. 

However he continued: “All considerations for the further handling of cannabis and its extracts, should not be based on ideological but on scientific criteria. For this purpose, the WHO, with many scientists involved, has presented sufficient and good criteria over the years. 

“All international bodies and the EU should be guided by these scientific findings and not try to create further hurdles against harmless substances, such as CBD.” 

Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, of Augur Associates, a Paris-based cannabis consultancy, believes there is ‘very little chance that the INCB’s preferred road will be taken’, as its position contradicts international law. 

“If however, the EC persists on this road, we can expect another couple of years of regulatory limbo and a long and expensive process, as in the KanaVape case.”

He also believes the INCB’s Cannabis Initiative is an attempt to make itself relevant saying : “Let’s not forget that the INCB is a dying institution in constant search of legitimacy. 

Prohibition Bureaucracy

“CBD having been properly assessed by WHO, the topic should realistically fall way beyond their scope. They are basically trying to justify their existence, a common trend in drug policy reform with prohibition bureaucracies fighting to stay relevant in our evolving world. 

“Before everything, they have a power of nuisance – as-well-as being used as a questionable shield for recalcitrant national and EU authorities.”

Peter Reynolds is director of UK trade group Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) he likewise dismissed the INCB as a ‘relic from the past’ and highlighted the EC prevarications as further evidence of its inability to assimilate CBD as demonstrated by the on-going Novel Food fiasco.

However he added:  “I think both in the EU and the UK, the future of the CBD market is assured by consumer demand. The experience of millions of consumers proves it is safe and effective, irrespective of the absurd scaremongering and invented concerns by the regulators.  

“Just as consumer demand for cannabis has comprehensively defeated the efforts of governments and law enforcement around the world, even as the last vestiges of prohibition crumble away, the idea that the CBD market will be closed down or gifted solely to big business is a bureaucrat’s fantasy.

Vested Interests

“As we can already see in the UK, this is now a ‘grey market’.  It’s not going away and ‘real’ full spectrum CBD products continue to be widely and easily available online.  Business is booming for many CBD companies as the multiples have been hobbled and forced into stocking only nasty, ineffective, isolate-based products which meet the regulators ridiculous criteria.”

Chris Allen, of the Hemp Federation Ireland, said: The CJEU (KanaVape) ruling is very clear on the legal status of hemp as an EU agricultural crop and on the scientific safety of the crop and derived products. 

She highlighted the on-going difficulties in Ireland – as reported earlier by BusinessCann – in relation to ‘reaching a consensus across Member States’.

“What a fully integrated development of the EU hemp industry actually means in the context of undisputed climate science needs to be fully understood by the EU Commission. Science must dictate the formation of EU economic, environmental and agricultural policy on hemp. 

“The wish-lists of vested corporate interests and obvious distortions of the International Narcotic Drug Control Conventions need to be removed from this conversation immediately. At no point do either the 1961 or the 1971 Convention concern themselves with controlling substances that have no narcotic value and the world cannot afford for its leaders to now concern themselves with trivialities,” she said.

Respected German cannabis lawyer Kai-Friedrich Niermann told BusinessCann: “The EC has no chance than to accept the outcomes of the ECJ ruling in the Kanavape Case, as it a so-called precedent. And Germany, after decriminalization and legalization of Cannabis would not accept any definition of hemp extracts as narcotics.”

What Happens Next?

Launched earlier this year the INCB is expected to agree on its final Cannabis Initiative paper at a meeting next month. 

This will then be presented to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in December before being formally submitted to the CND next March, for approval.

However, BusinessCann understands there is little appetite for further discussions among members following last December’s Vienna meeting which focused on cannabis’ classifications.

And, there is a chance, submission of the final paper may be delayed until spring 2022 and submitted to the CND 2023.

Industry participants close to proceedings also understand a number of EU countries are unhappy with its content and wording.

Position Of World Health Organisation On CBD

Regarding the classification of CBD in the International Drug Control Conventions the WHO states that: “Cannabidiol…does not meet the criteria for control under either the 1961 Convention nor under the 1971 Convention. Since it does not meet the 1961 criteria, it cannot be considered a narcotic.” See page 70.

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