CBD sales in Europe: a complete guide
Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the sale of cannabidiol (CBD) products.
It can be explained easily as CBD is now legal in Ireland, the UK and throughout Europe. In addition, you can legally order online at Justbob.shop, e-commerce of CBD products recognised worldwide for its high-quality products and fair prices.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is one of the active ingredients of the cannabis plant and is used in various fields due to its numerous properties. The hemp Sativa plant contains more than 480 compounds.
Of these, more than 100 are cannabinoids. The best-known cannabinoids are THC (D9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). Depending on national regulations, THC has psychoactive effects and can be used for recreational or therapeutic purposes. Cannabidiol, on the other hand, has no psychotropic effects and is legal in Italy and other countries.
However, it is obtained from a plant containing varying amounts of THC. This has put a strain on the regulatory frameworks of EU countries.
It is often difficult to juggle the laws governing the production, sale and consumption of legal cannabis in Europe and Italy. To better understand what regulations govern the supply chain of CBD products and to which categories they belong, it is necessary to look back to the recent past.
The 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to which Italy acceded in 1975, was the basis of national drug control laws for many years.
This included cannabis. The convention stipulated that the unauthorized sale of ‘cannabis flowers’ and ‘cannabis extracts and tinctures’ should be subject to criminal penalties.
However, in the 1961 convention, there was no explicit mention of cannabidiol. Over time, this lack of specification has led to very different interpretations of the use, sale and regulation of CBD.
CBD: European product regulation
CBD products belong to different categories, as they are treated differently by European regulations.
The European level generally regulates foodstuffs by EU Reg. 1178/2002 and EU Reg. 1169/2011 consumer information and food supplements by EU Directive 46/2002.
Concerning products for cosmetic use, the reference is Regulation 1223/2009 on cosmetic products. Concerning medicines, Directive 2001/83/EC sets out an EU code on medicinal products for human use.
The legislation and legal status of these different CBD products differ, although they all contain varying amounts of CBD.
It should also be noted that further legislation, including national legislation, applies. This is a complex but often necessary framework, given the wide variety of finished products with CBD as the main ingredient.
Among these are the numerous foods or supplements with a high percentage of CBD.
One of the European regulations that most closely affects the cannabidiol market is the EU Regulation 2015/2283 on so-called novel foods.
The regulation stipulates that ‘novel’ foods must be evaluated and authorized before they are introduced into the European Union.
CBD as a novel food
Regarding novel foods, extracts of light hemp or hemp products with cannabinoids could be included in the list. However, for the time being, the European evaluation authorities are waiting for manufacturers to provide further information on product specifications.
The European Food Safety Authority has received numerous applications for listing but has recently suspended its evaluations. The reason for this ‘pause’ concerns the need for more precise data on all the characteristics of the novel food.
In the meantime, other developments shed light on a regulatory situation that, even today, appears very confusing. For example, in 2019, the World Health Organisation called for an amendment to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to exclude cannabidiol (CBD) from the list of harmful substances.
An overview of CBD production in Europe
European production of CBD extracted from cannabis plants follows European directives and national laws. However, in recent years, incentives for the hemp market have provided new tools for the continent’s producers.
The Italian case
The law allows the cultivation of only those varieties of Cannabis sativa L. included in the Common European Catalogue.
The text had a declared objective: to promote the development of ‘the production of foodstuffs, cosmetics, biodegradable raw materials and innovative semi-finished products for industries in various sectors’ derived from hemp.
It was then that Italy saw the advent of what was often called light marijuana. Subsequently, Ministerial Circular No. 5059 of May 2018 was issued to clarify marketing and control procedures.
Complicating the picture, however, is the Consolidated Law on Narcotic Drugs, published on 31 October 1990 and updated in February 2022.
Cannabis resin, oil, leaves and inflorescence are still listed in Table II of the Testo Unico. Consequently, the regulations would cover any variety of hemp, even those with a THC level of less than 0.2%.
However, again the Consolidated Text excludes from its application ‘hemp cultivated exclusively for the production of fibers or other industrial uses permitted by European Union law’.
This is a not insignificant ambiguity, which requires further clarification and regulatory updates.
At the same time, the General Directorate for Medical Devices and the Pharmaceutical Service has opened the door to the production of active pharmaceutical ingredients derived from Cannabis sativa L.
Farms supplying the raw material must be authorized to cultivate it. In addition, the companies must sign an agreement with a pharmaceutical workshop that is, in turn, approved by the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA).
CBD, Europe in search of harmonious legislation
Articles 26 and 28 to 37 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) guarantee the free movement of goods, including hemp and its derivatives.
It’s confirmed that Member States shall adjust any State monopolies of a commercial character so as to ensure that no discrimination regarding the conditions under which goods are procured and marketed exists between nationals of Member States.
The provisions of this Article shall apply to any body through which a Member State, in law or in fact, either directly or indirectly supervises, determines or appreciably influences imports or exports between Member States. These provisions shall likewise apply to monopolies delegated by the State to others.
However, different laws apply in each European country. Sometimes the differences are minimal. In other cases, they are substantial.