German Government Concurs with Hemp Association on Novel Food Classification Controversy

March 10, 2020 16:00:22

You might think that the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the hemp extract cannabidiol is only common to the U.S., but it’s an issue that runs across the board. In most territories, hemp had been illegal until very recently, and very few of them have created comprehensive regulatory frameworks for hemp. And although the global hemp scene seems to be progressing at a good pace, the kinks still haven’t been ironed out.

The hemp scene in Europe, for instance, can only be described as confusing. Most of the demand for hemp is driven by cannabidiol (CBD), a hemp extract that’s said to be a potent natural medicine. There are currently thousands of CBD products on the market, ranging from vapes and tinctures to edibles and CBD-infused spirits and beverages.

In March 2019, Germany’s Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) indicated that hemp foodstuffs, including CBD, should be considered Novel Foods. In the EU, novel foods are foods that haven’t been consumed in member states before 1997. These foods are subject to stringent, expensive and time-consuming registration processes.

However, the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) recently communicated to the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) that although CBD isolates and CBD enriched hemp extracts are ‘novel,’ there are scant grounds for CBD products to be classified as novel foods.

The EIHA has celebrated this endorsement, stating that it is an important milestone, especially since Germany is the EU’s largest market.

“Thus, hemp food products made from traditionally produced extracts with the natural full spectrum of the cannabinoids contained in the hemp plant are not novel foods. For the German hemp food industry, this statement by the government and the ministry is an important milestone,” says EIHA president Daniel Kruse.

For now, the only thing in CBD’s way is the BVL’s indication that CBD products should be considered Novel Foods and treated as such.

“It now only remains to be seen whether the BVL will finally amend and correct the content of its previous blanket and undifferentiated publication on this topic of March 20, 2019, which has already led to avoidable irritation and legal errors on the part of many state and local authorities, as well as in some individual court cases in Germany,” Kruse added.

“It also remains to be seen whether the BVL will now agree to a meeting of experts, which EIHA has already requested several times,” said the EIHA in a release.

Analysts say that North American CBD sector players like Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP) would like to see a similar collaboration between governments and the industry on matters of regulation.

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