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How the decision of the European Commission officials will affect the continent's hemp market

22.07.2020

If hemp extracts become a medicine at the regulatory level, then the success of the hemp industry will benefit not farmers, but only those large companies that can afford synthetic cannabinoid production. In addition, the impossibility of using the most profitable commercial uses of hemp raw materials will also make it impossible to parallel development of value chains of related hemp products (hemp fiber, seeds, root, fire), which can be used for the production of paper, building materials, textiles, cosmetics, biocomposite materials, etc.

A few years ago, a tendency was noted on the pages of a specialized electronic publication of Ukrainian cannabis growers, according to which the largest pharmaceutical companies in economically developed countries “launched a procedure” to monopolize the possibilities for using the therapeutic properties of the hemp plant. It was during that period that global players in the pharmaceutical market initiated procedures to amend the regulatory framework, according to which products containing extracts of non-drug cannabinoids were displaced from the food market (several publications were devoted to this issue at once). This material describes the final stage of how conditions are created in the EU under which the use of extracts of drug-free cannabinoids in food, on the one hand, will soon become extremely costly (unprofitable), on the other hand, the food market will be flooded with synthetic cannabinoids, in the production of which including pharmaceutical giants are interested.

Following inter-ministerial consultations, European Commission officials have reached a preliminary conclusion that extracts of hemp plants of the genus Cannabis sativa L. and therefore plant cannabidiol are considered medicinal products under EU law. In their opinion, extracts from the flowering and fruiting tops of the cannabis plant should be considered a preparation that falls under the "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961". The decision was brought to the attention of companies operating in the European market, which have submitted a new application for food products in accordance with Article 10 of Regulation 2015/2283.

Last week, the EU Commission issued a preliminary statement explaining that natural hemp extracts and cannabinoids are no longer classified as food, but are taken as medicines by government officials. European Union executive officials say they will take all hemp extracts and natural cannabinoids under the new Food Regulation and classify them as medicines. According to experts from the EU hemp industry, if the above position of EU officials is officially enshrined in the regulatory framework of the European Union, cannabidiol will remain on the food market exclusively in synthetic form.

Commentary of experts of the Association "Ukrainian technical hemp"

The new European Food Regulations have been established as a food safety mechanism to control new, genetically or synthetically produced food products prior to market entry. According to the guidelines, “New Products” is defined as food that was not largely consumed in the EU until 15 May 1997. If food is considered “new”, it must undergo a pre-market safety assessment in accordance with the requirements of the European Food Safety Authority before the product can be legally sold in the EU. 

Historical aspect

After the possibilities of growing, processing, and selling industrial hemp products were regulated and the cultivation of industrial crops was subsidized by the Council of the European Economic Community (EEC) (the predecessor of the EU) in the 1970s, the European Commission in 1997 confirmed that parts of hemp the plants were identified as not "new". Surprisingly for the Old World growers, the new Food Regulations have revolutionized the marketplace by classifying cannabis leaves and flowers, as well as extracts from these plant parts, including CBD, as New Food. Despite a campaign for several years to inform EU officials that traditional hemp extracts have been used for centuries in the EU countries and should be considered as traditional food in accordance with food rules, the EU bureaucratic apparatus decided to that hemp extracts should be subject to the relevant legal framework of the New Food Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

Synthetic cannabidiol

On the other hand, European Union officials continue to carry out the necessary procedures to ensure that synthetic cannabidiol is legally present on the market. A number of applications for the unhindered use of synthetic cannabidiol have already been sent to the European Food Safety Authority for a risk assessment after the European Commission confirmed that it was “safe to use” in the EU.

Conclusions: the position of EU officials at the moment provides clear competitive advantages to cannabis growers from the USA, Canada, China, Switzerland, as well as a number of other countries that are not burdened with such restrictions. More importantly, promoting synthetic, rather than natural, hemp extracts will deprive agricultural producers and food business operators of the opportunity to legally operate in the EU food market. If hemp extracts become a medicine at the regulatory level, then the success of the hemp industry will benefit not farmers, but only those large companies that can afford synthetic cannabinoid production. In addition, the impossibility of using the most profitable commercial uses of hemp raw materials will also make it impossible for the parallel development of value chains of related hemp products (hemp fiber, seeds, root, fire) that can be used for the production of paper, building materials, textiles, cosmetics, biocomposite materials, etc.

Обучение в рамках "Конопляного Университета"
15.09.2020

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