EU officials resume review of CBD novel food applications after ditching narcotic stance

European regulators have resumed their review of novel food authorization applications for CBD products after the commission abandoned its preliminary stance that cannabidiol should be treated as a narcotic.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, says the change comes after a landmark court decision that CBD should be freely traded among member states, instead of limited as a narcotic.

Stefan De Keersmaecker, commission spokesperson for public health and food safety, confirmed that the European Commission had changed its opinion on CBD, which had been based on a strict reading of a 1961 international drugs treaty.

Hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, were added to the EU’s Novel Foods Catalogue in January of 2019. This means that CBD foods and supplements must be evaluated for consumer safety and seek authorization from EU authorities to place them on the market.

EU authorities in July suspended the review of more than 50 applications for the novel food authorization of CBD ingredients as it weighed whether the 1961 treaty’s definition of cannabis meant CBD – as a cannabis extract – was also a drug.

The commission received some decisive input on the question last month, when five judges on the EU’s top court said CBD could be traded freely among EU member states because it was not a narcotic. The judges based their decision on a broad reading of the 1961 drug treaty, saying CBD derived from the entire hemp plant was not a narcotic under the treaty’s “purpose and general spirit.”

The Court of Justice ruling was binding and set a precedent for all EU member states and institutions.

De Keersmaecker’s full comment, made Thursday in Brussels, can be heard below.