European Commission Apologises Over Misleading Novel Food Statements – As Crucial Dates For Europe’s Cannabis Future Revealed

THE European Commission says it has stopped all non-synthetic Novel Food CBD applications – and apologised for previously saying it hadn’t.

On a number of occasions it has stated around two dozen applications were still proceeding, but now says ‘unfortunately (we) have mixed some information up. We are really sorry for this’.

This comes as a date – November 19 – has now been set for a crucial court ruling on the KanaVape case, which may well determine the future of the European CBD industry. 

And, a date of December 2, has been set by the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs to consider World Health Organisation recommendations to ease restrictions on cannabis and CBD under international drug conventions.

‘Flowering And Fruiting Tops’

In July, it emerged the EC had stopped Novel Food applications for edible CBD products after a U-Turn which sees it look to now classify CBD as a narcotic drug.

It gave businesses two months to respond to this move and, a few weeks later, it said that this halt applied only to CBD extracted from the ‘flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant’.

It went on to say that of the 50-plus Novel Food applications being pursued around half related to “CBD extracted from other parts of hemp plant” – such as the stem, stalks and leaves.

And, went on to say ‘these applications were still proceeding’.

Half of the 50-Plus Applications Proceeding’

This left the industry perplexed as CBD quantities from these parts of the plant are relatively low and given the cost of the Novel Food approval process – at least £250,000 – would generally be considered uneconomic.

In September, when approached by BusinessCann it again stated: “About half of the received applications on CBD as novel food relate to CBD extracted from other parts of hemp plant (not including flowering and fruiting tops).” 

However, early this month when again pressed on the industry’s widespread disbelief of the validity of these statements, it back-tracked.

‘We Mixed Up Some Information And Are Really Sorry’

A spokesperson for the Deputy Chief Spokeswoman, Dana Spinant, said: “I checked again with our services and they told me that unfortunately they have mixed some information up. We are really sorry for this.

“Please find below the correct information:

“The applications you are referring to are put on hold, since additional information, notably on the production process (including the extraction method), is being requested from the concerned applicants.

“The only applications which have been processed and transmitted to EFSA for a safety assessment are the ones related to synthetic CBD, as it is not extracted from the plant.”

This has been a further fly in the ointment for the industry which will now be relieved by this clarification.

CBD – A Food Or A Drug?

However, this still leaves the European hemp and CBD industry in a precarious position as it awaits further developments from the EC’s ruminations on the status of CBD.

July’s decision to no longer treat CBD as a Novel Food, and revert to classifying it a narcotic drug under the global drug conventions, left the industry aghast.

There is still no timeline for the EC to ratify this position, but some clarity has emerged on the KanaVape case which may trump this issue.

It emerged earlier this week that the European Court of Justice will make a determination on this on November 19.

One widely-held belief is that a favourable KanaVape determination, on the continued circulation of CBD products taken from the flowers of the hemp plant, will take precedence over the narcotic issue, as outlined here by a senior European industry hemp expert.

December’s UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs session in Vienna had been due to take place earlier this year, and at this stage it is unclear if the WHO recommendations will pass. The adoption of the WHO position will be a boost to the CBD industry.

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