Key figures in the industry have welcomed a verdict by Europe’s highest court that CBD is not a narcotic and has no harmful effects on human health.
The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has confirmed that CBD is not a narcotic drug, in a significant milestone for the industry.
In a verdict delivered on Thursday 20 November, bringing the six-year KanaVape case to a close, the CJEU ruled that CBD is not a drug within the UN’s Single Convention.
It went on to say that the cannabinoid does not appear to have any ‘psychotropic’ or ‘harmful effect on human health’.
The decision marks a turning point for the European market, which has been shrouded in uncertainty following a preliminary conclusion issued by the European Commission (EC) earlier this year suggesting CBD should be classified as a narcotic drug rather than a Novel Food.
It comes following a six-year dispute between French authorities and the founders of the first CBD vaporizer, KanaVape, over whether restricting the sale of CBD products legally produced in other EU countries breaches single market rules.
In 2014 French authorities took legal action against co-founders Antonin Cohen and Sébastien Béguerie, for importing hemp flowers from the Czech Republic into the country, where the extraction of flowers from the cannabis plant is not permitted.
The CJEU ruling has been welcomed by key players in the industry, who now expect the EC to proceed with Novel Food applications.
In their analysis of the ruling, London-based cannabis consultancy firm, The Canna Consultants concluded that the Judgement ‘increases the pressure’ on the EC to ‘remove the present ban on the advancement of the Novel Food assessments’ of CBD products.
Co-founder Stephen Oliver commented: “We have always indicated that we believe that a literal and strict interpretation of the definitions within the 1961 Convention was against the spirit of that agreement, and undermined by the progress which has been made in cannabinoid understanding and technology in the almost 60 years since.
“We are pleased that Europe is now free of this restrictive and unjustified limitation on the advancement of the cannabinoid industry. In conjunction with our clients, we will now advance their Novel Food applications which have been on hold for a number of months.”
Stephen Murphy of cannabis market intelligence firm Prohibition Partners, congratulated those involved in the success of the case and described it as a ‘massive boost’ for European consumers.
He said: “The ruling is a blow to conservative parties who sought to discredit the benefits of a naturally derived compound and a massive boost to patients and consumers in Europe who are using CBD products daily to improve their quality of life. The ruling has significant implications for future classification by the UN on the subject later this year and gives much needed confidence to a sector looking to provide greater access.”
Meanwhile Peter Reynolds, of CannaPro, the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses, said the news brought into question the guidance issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), which requires British companies to apply for novel food status by March 31, 2021.
“The fact that the highest court in Europe has determined on the basis of the evidence that CBD poses no risk to human health, just highlights how the FSA is not operating on the basis of truth, but on the basis of the big business lobbyists, that have been pressing it to make the regulation of CBD so onerous that small companies can’t deal in it anymore,” he said.
“I don’t think the ruling in itself will have any direct impact on the FSA guidance in the UK, but it shines a light of truth on what is really going on.”
“TRIP was designed to help people find calm in the chaos”
Co-founders of the UK-based CBD drinks company TRIP, talk to Cannabis Health about leaving successful careers in law and finance to start their own brand and the impressive rise of the young company since its launch in 2019.
Olivia Ferdi and Daniel Khoury discovered CBD just a few weeks before their wedding day after Daniel sustained a serious knee injury playing football.
Having torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Daniel’s doctor told him that he would be unable to walk down the aisle and dancing at the reception would be out of the question.
Meanwhile, Daniel’s brother, who was living in the US at the time, was witnessing the surge in popularity of CBD across North America. He suggested to Daniel that he try the supplement to help reduce the pain and inflammation in his knee.
At this point, CBD was still relatively unknown in the UK and the couple knew nothing about the supplement. But they were willing to try anything to get Daniel back on his feet before their wedding day.
Seven weeks later, Daniel was walking down the aisle without his crutches and “danced all weekend”, Olivia said.
Impressed by the effects of CBD on his recovery, Daniel and Olivia set out to learn more about the supplement. After returning from their wedding abroad, they started researching and discovered the myriad of different health conditions that people were using CBD for.
Olivia then began using CBD to manage her stress and anxiety. Working as a lawyer in London, she found that incorporating CBD into her daily life helped alleviate the stress that came with her job.
“Whether that was taking a few drops on my morning commute or in moments of anxiety to help me reset, CBD quickly became an important part of my routine,” Olivia said.
“We both began using CBD daily after [experiencing] the fantastic everyday benefits for ourselves.”
It wasn’t long before the couple saw an opportunity to bring something different to the market. At the time, CBD hadn’t yet taken off in the UK like it had in the US and the couple struggled to find a product that aligned with their lifestyle and values.
“What was available back then was so inaccessible, whether due to pricing, quality, confusing instructions, off-putting packaging or bitter tastes,” Olivia continued.
“We wanted something convenient and inclusive; a product we could have on our desk at work, grab after a workout or enjoy with friends in the evening.”
The couple took a bold leap, leaving their successful careers in law and finance to launch their very own CBD company, TRIP, with a mission to make CBD more accessible.
TRIP launched a range of high-concentration CBD-infused drinks with flavours and branding that would appeal to young professionals.
Taking a holistic approach to wellness, the drinks contain natural botanical extracts like ginseng, chamomile, Lemon Balm and L-Theanine, which the company says help stabilise physiological processes in the body and alleviate stress.
Since launching at the end of 2019, the company has experienced rapid growth, which Olivia describes as a “whirlwind”. The company got off to an impressive start, working with high-profile brands like Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Planet Organic and Equinox Gyms.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit a few months later the company was quick to respond, launching a partnership with Deliveroo to become the first CBD store on the platform.
TRIP went on to be accepted by Sainsbury’s as one of its ‘Future Brands’ and embarked on a partnership with Soho House, the company behind the members-only club that caters to young creatives in major cities across the world.
The brand has also had its share of viral hits on social media with a number of celebrities endorsing the products, including Ellie Goulding who picked up a can of TRIP from her fridge during an interview with Vogue.
“TRIP was designed to help people find calm in the chaos,” Olivia said.
“In 2020 we wanted as many people as possible to experience the amazing benefits of CBD, especially at a time when the need for self-care was at an all-time high. Consumers were reaching for CBD more than ever before, looking for something to ease their worries.
“During this time, we were lucky to experience huge growth and collaborate with some amazing partners in the wellness sector.”
TRIP has already expanded into the European market and plans to announce a number of further global launches in the coming year.
However, despite its big ambitions, Olivia believes it is important not to become “obsessed with lofty goals”. Instead, she says TRIP’s focus on providing the “best experience possible” will lay the groundworks for its future success.
“We are incredibly proud of and thankful for the culture we have cultivated within the TRIP community and we are really excited to keep building our community,” Olivia added.
“We created TRIP so that as many people as possible could experience the benefits of CBD and we plan on continuing in that mission.
Alphagreen launches crowdfunding drive to grow CBD marketplace
Online CBD marketplace Alphagreen is launching a crowdfunding campaign as it looks to sustain its growth.
The platform – which claims to be the largest in Europe – allows customers to choose from a range of over 150 lifestyle brands.
Would-be investors can buy into Alphagreen via equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs, which enables anyone to pursue a stake in a company.
Alphagreen bosses are looking to build on a period which has seen revenue grow from £23,562 in the second quarter of 2020 to £130k in the first quarter of 2021.
Alphagreen co-founder and CEO Alexej Pikovsky co-founder and CEO Alexej Pikovsky, said: “The cannabis industry is here to stay. The global market is poised for a significant growth phase and Alphagreen is perfectly positioned to capitalise on the increased use of medicinal cannabis and fundamental changes to the way the cannabis and CBD market will function.”
Retail investors can register their interest from April 20, 2021. Existing investors include Stockholm-based Enexis AB, US cannabis fund West Creek Investments and angel investors, including Igor and Oleg Tikhturov.
Alphagreen has sets itself an ambitious growth forecast of 300 percent for the remainder of 2021.
The company believes it has benefited from a shift toward online shopping during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Pikovsky added: “We are on track to finish off the year with close to a million pounds in sales and should see a huge jump in 2022 when our content first strategy, together with our e-commerce market place showcasing the very best in health and wellness brand innovation and portfolios, plus massive web traffic that any business would want to be part of really kick in.
“We are uniquely positioned and are excited to work with the best brands globally.”
Major UK white label CBD plant taken over by Fen Group
White Label 360, a CBD manufacturing operation based in the north of England, has been acquired by consumer healthcare firm, Fen Group.
A spokesperson for Fen Group said further buyouts are in the pipeline as they ‘seek to become the dominant player in the UK CBD market’.
Incorporated in 2018, the West Yorkshire-based company will take control of White Label 360’s flagship brand, ‘CBDeaze’.
The company is now awaiting validation from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as per the new novel foods legislation.
In a statement, Fen Group said the acquisition could open up ‘potential distribution channels’ in Germany and South Africa.
White Label, which has a plant in Barnsley and has been trading since 2015, has 40 white label contacts according to the company’s website.
Its CEO, Colin O’Donnell, said he supported Fen Group’s efforts to ‘bring structure into such a fragmented CBD market in the UK’.
“I am looking forward to working with Fen Group as they endeavour to bring structure into such a fragmented CBD market in the UK,” he commented.
Tom Fennell, CEO of Fen Group said: “This acquisition allows Fen Group to rapidly increase our revenues, whilst keeping our core value proposition consistent.
“We are very excited to build on the foundational work that Colin has put in.”
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