Speaking at Cannabis Europa Mark Reinders, chairman of the of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA), says it is still looking at ways to resolve the on-going dispute with the European Union over the classification of CBD as a Novel Food.
He said: “Dealing with the EU on the Novel Food issue is like playing a game of football (soccer) for 90 minutes and seeing the rules changed six times.”
He believes there are some 45 million consumers of CBD in Europe, saying the uncertainty which has arisen from January’s decision to classify CBD as a Novel Food could have unsavoury consequences.
He referred to a recent debate in his home country of Holland in which consumers said they would choose to go the black market for CBD if they could not access it legally. Fighting the corner of the EIHA and other bodies such as the Cannabis Trades Association in the U.K. is lifelong activist and campaigner Boris Baňas of CBDepot.
He says he has over 20 examples, some dating back to the third century, which prove the use of flowers and buds in Europe is not ‘novel’. In some European countries such as Italy, CBD shops are being closed down due to the Novel Foods directive. However, this is not yet the case in the U.K where the sold-out, second Cannabis Europa conference is being held.
Hannah Skingle, COO of leading U.K company Dragonfly Biosciences, says all CBD business have to be concerned by the shifting regulatory landscape. But, she continued: “The FSA (Food Standards Authority) Is being reasonable. It has engaged with the industry on the Novel Food authorization and has indicated we will not be told to withdraw CBD from sale.
“If it was an immediate concern, it would have been removed. It (the EFSA) wants to learn more about the content – such as the amount of heavy metals – and ensure all products are packaged and labelled correctly. And, as long as we continue to do that we should be for at least a year, and between now and then hopefully the issue will be resolved.”
In January, the EFSA (European Food Standard Agency) said there is no evidence that CBD had been widely used prior to 1997, and was designated a ‘Novel Food’. Mr Reinders says its discussions with the EU on this are being hampered by the ‘charlatans and cowboys’ in the business who fail to achieve acceptable content and labelling standards.
Ms Skingle, Mr Baňas and Mr Reinders were addressing attendees in a session on CBD Regulations. Opening the conference, earlier on Monday Cam Battley, Chief Corporate Officer of Canadian cannabis firm of Aurora, described himself as the ‘squarest guy’ in the industry.
He said: “My background is biopharma, I have worked with the Scouts, and help my kids learn to play soccer. When I left biopharma to come into cannabis people told me it wasn’t a serious business. But, since cannabis was made medically available to patients in Canada some 400,000 people have been helped and some 20,000 physicians have made prescriptions. This is a very serious business for patients worldwide.”
Addressing the hundreds of attendees at the Southbank Centre, next to the River Thames in central London he continued: “We are at the vanguard of something that is coming, something which will be huge. Cannabis is a global mega-trend.”
While saying claims that cannabis can help with cancer have not been validated by clinical trials he believes the plants greatest efficacy is in relieving the symptoms of a wide range of conditions. And, that it will be eventually be accepted as being more beneficial than aspirin, in that regard.
He urged the U.K to embrace its medical cannabis program, which has so far delivered only a handful of prescriptions despite being launched in November last year. “We need put the patients first, to remove the stigma, so people can become familiar with cannabis. The U.K. can become leader not a lagger.”
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