Slovakia, a member country of the European Union, just became the last nation to formally declare on a federal level that CBD is not psychotropic. As of March 18, the Ministry of Health submitted a formal proposal to legalize cannabidiol, using the United Nations ruling as a guideline.
This is hardly news. After all, CBD was officially reclassified as “not a narcotic” at the European level last fall. This in turn, effectively created an environment within the EU on a regional level, at least for hemp, much like the United States post 2018 Farm Bill. Slovakia is just the last sovereign government to “get the memo.”
Yet the road from here is still far from clear.
Issues Still at The Table in Slovakia and Other Countries
The fact of the matter is that the debate on the many issues surrounding homogeneity on cannabis regulations across the EU are just getting started. That includes how CBD fits into products consumed by both humans and pets. It also includes much larger issues about the industry on the “consumer” if not “recreational” level.
One of the largest bugbears is how both the plant and individual cannabinoids far from CBD are treated. For example, even hemp is technically listed in the German Narcotics Act. On a regional level, however, there are loopholes about THC-free extracts being added to food. Cross border, these are even more contentious—although to the extent that these have begun to show up in court (including in France last year and Germany just last month), European regulations, where present, have begun to shape conversations at a national level even if they are not decisive.
Beyond this, as no doubt will start to become evident as of next year, big discussions about “Novel Food” and cannabinoids are not going to be limited just to CBD (as they have so far). THC-laden chocolate, for example, will fall into the same bucket as its fellow cannabinoid—and so far, the issues over just CBD are far from over.
Beyond this, of course, there is the matter of where cannabinoids for human consumption will come from. On the recreational side, it is unlikely that any THC will reach the market (at least across borders) that is not GMP.
That effectively creates a double regulatory hurdle just for two parts of a single plant (in other words would a GMP THC product also then have a Novel Food application filed for it?)
A Post “Single Cannabinoid” World
The reality is that cannabinoids, as a class, if not the plant itself, are in a strange world of legalization in process. What might Delta 8 be, for example in the European perspective (probably a narcotic but so far yet to be defined). Or any of the other many cannabinoids now coming, for sure, as both Luxembourg and Switzerland open up a different conversation next year.
“Not a narcotic” is one way to look at the entire conversation, but that too, falls through too many cracks. Novel Food, the regulation that is holding up many applications right now (and essentially says that a food must pass safety tests if not be in “common” use throughout Europe before May 1997) although much in vogue across the EU and the UK presently, also does not provide the real answers at the table—starting with the fact that after a while, the hundreds of individual applications will all begin to look very similar which would imply that CBD is already in widespread consumption. Is CBD really “Novel” after 200 or 300 applications, particularly if extracted in basically the same ways?
There are also looming issues in some parts of all of this that CBD is also still very much in the middle of. For example, the issues of cannabis allergies (which show up in particular in the cosmetics industry as terpenes appear to cause reactions in some skin types) is just one of these.
Takeaways, For Now
The European Union is moving slowly towards homogeneity on a few basic standards, but in the meantime, the details are being honed in several different ways. Legislative redefinitions at a sovereign level, including most recently in Slovakia, and court cases are clearly chipping away at some of the most basic issues. However, in the meantime, there are many, many issues still to be decided.
Moving CBD at least into a bucket which is (logically, scientifically, and even at this point politically) integrated into the mainstream is overdue, on a regional basis. Even if it is “just” the starting point for a much broader conversation about THC—and further, as of next year, of both the medical and recreational kind.