CBD legality in Europe
In this article I’d like to say a few things about the legal aspects of CBD in Europe.
What is the legal definition of Hemp
CBD is extracted from hemp, a plant that’s part of the Cannabis Sativa family.
In Europe, legal hemp refers to a number of specific strains. Other words used for legal hemp are: industrial hemp or agricultural hemp. In this video I’ll be using the word ‘hemp’ to refer to these legal varieties.
When cannabis was made illegal in the first half of the 20th century, a number of exemptions were made to save certain industries that couldn’t survive without it. These industries relied on the seeds and fibre to make their products. To give you an example from the car industry: a typical Mercedes C-class contains around 20kg of hemp fibre.
Hemp contains less than 0.2% THC
In Europe, the European Commission has qualified certain strains of Cannabis Sativa as hemp.
These cultivars contain no more than 0.2% THC. If the THC levels in the plant are higher, they no longer qualify as hemp, but as non-exempted Cannabis. Despite increasing discussion about legalisation, penalties for illegal, commercial production can include high fines and jail sentences.
Although Switzerland allows for THC to be present until up to 1%, it’s useful to keep in mind this country is not a part of the EU, and any product that doesn’t comply with European law will be illegal inside the European Union.
64 Varieties of legal cannabis sativa in Europe
At the time of making this video, the European Commission recognises a total of 64 varieties of cannabis sativa as hemp. These can be found on the website of the European Commission
A few well know varieties for CBD production are Carmagnola, Finola, Futura 75 and Uso-31.
What is classified as Illegal Cannabis
Remember: it’s the origin of the seeds that makes the plant qualify as hemp. If you are considering using new genetics that have lower than 0,2% THC but are not qualified as hemp by the European Commission, they are still regarded as illegal cannabis.
The strains on this list can be cultivated throughout the European Union, although member states can create additional regulation within their borders.
If you are considering cultivating hemp, it’s important to look if there are additional regulations in your country, such as required permits.
The final use of the crop is legally significant
The intended final use of the crop can also be legally significant, and cultivation for the production of CBD oil is generally more regulated than growing hemp for fibre.
Cannabis Sativa that does not qualify as hemp is illegal to grow throughout the EU, and special permits required. These are tightly regulated and only a handful of companies have so far managed to acquire them. One of the most well know is holland’s Bedrocan.
Regulations for CBD as a food supplement
If you are marketing CBD products as a food supplement, keep in mind you need to comply with the European Food Safety Authority. They also regulate health claims pertaining to dietary supplements.
For producing food supplements, the safety protocol your company should adhere to is called FSSC22000. This is a version of ISO22000 that is recognised by the Global Food Safety Initiative
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
This protocol includes HACCP: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points.
This protocol is built on 7 steps: Conduct a hazard analysis, Identify critical control points, and establish: critical limits for each critical control point, critical control point monitoring requirements, corrective actions, procedures for ensuring the HACCP system is working as intended and record keeping procedures.
Good Manufacturing Practice
GMP[b], meaning Good Manufacturing Practice, is a system for making sure products are consistently produced and controlled. The European Union has harmonized their legislation with the recommendations of the World Health Organisation. GMP certification is necessary for trading with pharmaceutical companies.
Organic Certification of Hemp
The European Union has also specified[c] the practices required for organic farming. Products that comply with these practices can be recognised by the ‘EU certified[d] organic’ logo.
Laboratory Testing of CBD Products
Because there is no harmonized legislation with regards to testing CBD products for contamination, we recommend using organic material. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it pulls heavy metals out of the earth and stores them in the above ground parts. Without proper testing, possible contaminations could be concentrated in the final product.
The CBD market is not a Grey Zone
Although the market is often referred to as a grey zone, this is a misconception. There are clear rules, although it’s not always easy to find them as they are governed by a multitude of european agencies.
If you are investing any significant amount of capital into the production or distribution of CBD products, please check carefully what legislation applies to your situation.
If you need help, feel free to contact us.