The confusion and uncertainties around cannabidiols (CBD) containing products continues even after the recent update to the Novel Food Catalogue by the European Commission.
Under the Novel Food Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 (NFR), plants and plant parts which do not have a history of consumption in the EU need to be authorized before they are permitted to be placed on the market. In other words, a plant extract is considered novel food unless a significant history of safe consumption of these products in food and/or food supplements can be demonstrated in the EU prior to May 1997. The recent changes in the Novel Food Catalogue on cannabinoids reflect this definition: in the current catalogue, hemp leaves and flowers, and all products derived thereof are considered novel foods. It is not a surprise that this interpretation triggered quite some controversy among hemp business operators.
On the one hand, there are opinions from national authority bodies such as the “Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit” (BVL), which published a recent clarification note and Q&A on CBD, THC and hemp extract, states that before placing products containing CBD on the market, either an application for authorization of a medicinal product or a request for authorization of a novel food must be submitted. In both procedures, the safety of the respective product must be demonstrated by the applicant.
On the other hand, there is the Cannabis Trades Association who initiated a legal proceeding to challenge the European Commission’s recent decision to classify CBD as a novel food.
Thus, there are plenty of uncertainties in the market. However, following the novel food approach, any CBD-containing hemp extract is, at least, at risk of being considered novel. Classification of products derived from hemp flowers and leaves and their marketability assessment need to be done case-by-case.