European Commission Scraps Moves To Brand CBD A Narcotic – And Caps A Winning Day For Cannabis Industry

THE KanaVape judgement has forced the hand of the The European Commission which has now revised its preliminary determination that CBD (cannabidiol) should be treated as a narcotic.

EIHA Managing Director Lorenza Romanese.

The latest development in Brussels, came just hours after the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (UNCND), sitting in Vienna, recognised the medical benefits of cannabis.

In a press statement EC spokesperson Stefan De Keersmaecker said: “We have taken into account the submissions of the (Novel Food) applicants and the very recent decision of the European Court of Justice, and reviewed our assessment…and concluded cannabidiol cannot be considered a drug…this means cannabidiol can be qualified as a food…we are resuming the verification of the validity of the Novel Food applications.”

EC Decision Warmly Welcomed

The decision has been welcomed by the European CBD industry.

Lorenza Romanese, Managing Director of European Industrial Hemp Association, told BusinessCann it had been notified by letter from the EC yesterday to say it had changed its mind. She said: “We think they were looking for a way out. We have provided them with four legal submissions on this – the shortest running to six pages – and this, along with the KanaVape decision gave them the tools to change their mind.”

We think they were looking for a way out. We have provided them with four legal submissions on this – the shortest running to six pages – and this, along with the KanaVape decision gave them the tools to change their mind


Antonin Cohen, who developed the KanaVape device at the centre of the ECJ judgement, told BusinessCann: “This is great news. This decision was expected after the court verdict confirming CBD was not a narcotic in the KanaVape case.”

Senior cannabis lawyer Eveline Van Keymeulen, of Allen & Overy, who represented Mr Cohen, said: “This is terrific news. I applaud that the European Commission, without further delay, has duly taken into account the decision of the European Court of Justice (CJEU) in the Kanavape case and thereby finally put an end to the enduring – legal – uncertainty for CBD novel food applicants.

Eveline Van Keymeulen.

“The prompt change in position seems to confirm that the Commission was indeed awaiting the CJEU ruling in order to take a final stance on the use of CBD in food. Allowing pending novel food applications to progress to a scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority is an important step towards a harmonised approach for CBD products across Europe.

“We can only hope that the Commission will equally apply the outcome of the judgment – that CBD should not be considered a narcotic drug – consistently across all product areas, in particular to the use of CBD in cosmetic products.”

Leading UK cannabis Lawyer Robert Jappie of law firm Ince, said: “I’m certainly surprised at how quickly the EC has reversed their position, but delighted nonetheless. Their threat to classify CBD as a narcotic was a real cause for concern, but tonight the European CBD industry will sleep a little easier.”

No Longer Narcotic

It was back in July that the EC reversed its stance on CBD after previously saying it considered it to be a Novel Food.

The EC said it had halted over half of its 50-or-so Novel Food applications as it no longer considered CBD as a food and, as such, it could not be sold in its 27 member states.

This position aligns with the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs which says cannabinoids from the flowering and fruiting tops of the Cannabis Sativa plant fall under international drug treaties.

Ironically, that vote was lost at today’s UNCND but the primacy of last month’s KanaVape decision by the European Court of Justice has set a clear legal pathway for the EC.

The news came just hours after a majority of countries voted in favour of removing cannabis from Schedule 4 of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

While primarily a symbolic victory it does acknowledge the growing acceptance of cannabis across the globe and will provide cover for more nations looking to liberalise their cannabis laws.

Matt Lawson Co-Founder of The Canna Consultants last night welcomed the decision saying “Those targeting the European market will be glad that the Commission has reversed its rather petulant decision.”

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