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Europe No Longer Views Cannabis Fan Leaves As A Novel Food In Major Win For Industry

THREE years since it launched its fight to have cannabis leaves re-branded a traditional food the European Industrial Hemp Association has landed a major victory.

The European Commission has confirmed that it no longer views the larger ‘fan’ leaves of the cannabis plant as a Novel Food.

The entry in its Novel Food catalogue for cannabis has now been updated to include the following: “A history of consumption in the EU has also been demonstrated for the water infusion of hemp leaves (when not accompanied by the flowering and fruiting tops) consumed as such or as part of herbal infusions. Such use(s) is(are) therefore not novel.”

It is a welcome U-turn which could boost the European hemp food market and comes over four years since the EC made its controversial classification in which they decided to classify all parts of the plants as Novel.

And, as Business of Cannabis, recently reported EIHA has also launched a bid to have natural, hemp-extract products classified as a traditional food under Article 4 of the EC’s Novel Food regulations.

However, those companies pursuing applications for synthetic CBD and isolate products as well for full-spectrum extracts – for the time being – will still have to proceed through the Novel Food process, as flower and enriched or isolate cannabinoids are still considered a Novel Food.

Hemp-Infused Tea 

The main impact of the ruling on ‘fan’ leaves will be for those involved in the hemp-infused tea and related products.

EIHA President Daniel Kruse said: “This is a major achievement for our sector, and clearly demonstrates that a collective industry effort is the key for normalizing the hemp plant and its products.

“For many years, EIHA has been engaged in talks with the EU institutions and the Member States on the topic of the Novel Food legislation. We are glad that science and historical facts prevailed over prejudice.”

In a press release EIHA went on to say: “Hemp leaves were consumed traditionally as food, and particularly as aqueous infusions before 1997.”

It goes on to say that the change of status is also in line with the 1961 Single Convention, where hemp leaves are explicitly exempted.

And adds: “In addition to this important regulatory evolution, a number of further seed-derived products will also be explicitly excluded from the application of the Novel Food Regulation, hence clarifying and reinforcing their legal status on the EU market.”

In May, this year, Business of Cannabis reported that EIHA has submitted an Article 4 request under the EC’s Novel Food regulations to the Czech government to have natural hemp plant extracts classified as a traditional food .

EIHA Managing Director Lorenza Romanese told Business of Cannabis at the time: “The Czech Ministry Of Agriculture may well have been feeling some pressure coming from the European Food Safety Authority as a result of the concerns it raised on isolate CBD in June last year.

“However, what we intend to do now is to demonstrate to the Czech Ministry of Agriculture that natural hemp plant extracts are a traditional food that have been used in Czechia, and Europe, for centuries.”

THC Content In Seeds

While EIHA is naturally delighted with its progress so far it is still awaiting further feedback from the EC on the position of THC content in hemp seeds.

Ms Romanese added: “We sincerely hope and anticipate that this spirit of positive and constructive engagement will be reflected in the urgent need for written clarification on the measurement uncertainty relating to THC in seed products.

“Currently, operators in many EU countries are suffering from misleading interpretation, seizures and unnecessary administrative requirements.

“Still today, while the sector is pending a written clarification on the measurement uncertainty on THC in seed products, the operators in many EU countries are suffering from misleading interpretation, seizures and unnecessary administrative requirements.

“These new changes will eliminate all remaining doubts on the legality of products derived from seeds and open the market for infusions and tea made from hemp leaves, ensuring an additional economic revenue for farmers and business operators.”


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