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CBD in Europe – what does the future look like?



The EU CBD Market is projected to reach €13.6 billion by 2025 – but classing it as a narcotic could have huge implications, say experts.

Researchers behind a report into the European CBD market, released earlier this year, have said that the implications of the European Commission (EC) considering CBD a narcotic could not be ‘overstated’.

In the latest volume of its European CBD consumer series, New Frontier Data surveyed thousands of CBD users in 17 countries across the continent, to taste of the market.

Annual spending on CBD in the EU is expected to total an estimated €8.3 billion by the end of 2020, with the highest annual spending in Germany at an estimated €1.83 billion.

The report projects the EU CBD market will grow to reach €13.6 billion by 2020 – but only without regulatory changes.

In July 2020 the European Commission (EC) suspended applications for CBD to be included in its Novel Food Catalogue, stating the cannabinoid and other extracts from hemp flowers would be better regulated as narcotics under the UN’s Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

No final decisions have been made, but if it goes ahead the ruling would not only make it ‘impossible for the market to exist in its current form’, but also limit cannabinoid research and innovation throughout the continent, the report argues.

Researchers warned that the increasing demand for CBD coupled with the fact that most sales take place online, could create an unregulated ‘grey market’ and a risk of contaminated or low-quality products, improper labeling, and unfounded marketing claims flooding the market and potentially ‘endangering public health’.

A spokesperson for New Frontier Data explained: “After first deciding CBD should be classified as a novel food in the EU, the EC is now considering whether CBD is a narcotic, citing the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

“Synthetically derived CBD would still qualify for novel food status as the UN convention only bans cannabinoids harvested from the flowering tops of the cannabis plant.

At the same time, the report noted that thanks to Brexit, the future looks brighter for UK producers, as the Food Standards Agency will continue to consider CBD as novel foods.

They continued: “The UK seems to be clearing a regulatory pathway for CBD products as it drifts out of the EC’s jurisdiction, as the UK Home Office has explicitly stated that CBD is not a narcotic, and CBD is now under the jurisdiction of the UK Food Standards Agency.”

New Frontier founder and CEO Giadha DeCarcer added that the EC decision would lead to objections from producers and may ramp up pressure on the UN to reclassify cannabis, which could have a significant impact beyond CBD.

“Despite existing regulatory hurdles, demand for CBD in Europe continues to grow quickly as consumers embrace this cannabinoid for medical and general wellness, creating opportunities for large food and beverage and health and beauty brands,” she commented.

“This provisionary conclusion will likely trigger objections and may increase pressure to amend the UN Single Convention to remove cannabis from its prohibited classification.

“That would have implications far beyond extracts, potentially reshaping the future of higher-THC cannabis in Europe.”

Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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