Current indications are that the EC is leaning heavily towards the idea that CBD does indeed count as a narcotic under the 1961 Un Convention.
This would mean that a major proportion of the EU market is now essentially on hold. However, in reality, sales continue – essentially meaning the sector continues to move forward slowly peppered by enforcement actions – in particular in the Spanish and Swedish markets.
But really this is not a death knell for the industry. It is an unfortunate turn of circumstances for sure. But reality largely continues to resemble the grey area that preceded it. Companies will continue to operate largely as before while this decision is being processed. Perhaps some investment and interest from established companies in other sectors will be missed. But the day to day sale of CBD products to European consumers shall continue unabated.
It does put the UK squarely into the prime market position – now both in terms of its large market size and the fact that it will likely be the quickest place to provide a legal path to market for CBD food, drink and supplement items.
Beyond that, the main consideration is what will happen if the EC does consider CBD a narcotic. That is much harder to determine. But one point to consider is the recent declaration of stance by the US Food and Drink Administration (FDA). The agency had maintained that CBD should not be in food because of its use as an active ingredient in an approved pharmaceutical drug.
But earlier this year FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn admitted that the cat was already out of the bag in terms of the foundation of the CBD market and there was no going back even if the FDA wanted to hold to its stance. “People are using these products. We’re not going to say: ‘You can’t use these products.’ Even if you did, it’s a fool’s game to try to approach that,” he told attendees at a conference in the USA.
And that’s an important point to remember regarding the EC’s decision. It would likely be more trouble than it’s worth to suddenly prohibit the entirety of the EU food, drink and supplement CBD market even if the EC did consider it all a narcotic.
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