The Czech government has suspended its proposed ban on CBD products and will instead study specific regulations. The ban may have been influenced by the emergence of a synthetic psychoactive compound called HHC. The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has called for a three-tiered safety system for CBD, categorizing it as traditional food, novel food, or medicine based on concentration.
The Czech government announced that it is retracting its statements regarding the ban on CBD in the country and will continue studying regulations concerning CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids.
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Czech PM Backpedals on CBD Ban
“We have agreed that the upcoming measure regulating the sale of CBD will not come into effect now,” stated Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who indicated that a task force has initiated an examination aimed at developing “clear and predictable rules” for hemp-derived products.
Under the revoked ban, all foods and dietary supplements containing cannabinoids, as well as cosmetics containing hemp-derived cannabinoids, would have been removed from the market. The ministry had stated that it was following a strict interpretation of European Union rules that designate CBD isolate as a novel food requiring safety checks by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
A Definite Relief for the Czech CBD Industry
In his tweet, the Prime Minister stated that the ban would have caused “major complications for users of this substance and for a number of Czech entrepreneurs.”
Like in all European countries, CBD is sold in the Czech Republic in the form of oils, tinctures, capsules, candies, and other edible products, and it is found in numerous health and beauty products on the market.
The European Commission ruled in December 2020 that CBD is not a narcotic and can be classified as a food if it meets relevant provisions of EU food legislation. The decision also stated that CBD-based products should benefit from the same free movement of goods between and among member states as other legal products.
The EFSA has started examining various forms of CBD for approval in EU markets under the rules for novel foods. However, during this review, the EFSA has encountered difficulties in evaluating this type of product and has put its application process on hold several times.
Was HHC a Triggering Factor in Czech CBD Ban?
The proposal to ban CBD products may have been motivated by the emergence of HHC, a synthetic psychoactive compound that mimics the “high” of cannabis and is manufactured by subjecting CBD to a “semi-synthetic” process. The Czech Republic has been identified as one of the 20 or more EU countries where HHC-based products have appeared, prompting the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction to issue health warnings.
The Czech government issued warnings about HHC in March, urging consumers not to use these products due to potential health risks.
In addition to reactions from local stakeholders, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) criticized the Czech government for not considering hemp extracts containing natural levels of cannabinoids as traditional foods.
Three Proposed Levels
The EIHA has called for a European policy that would establish a three-tiered safety system placing CBD in the categories of traditional foods, novel foods, and medicines, based on concentration.
While isolated and enriched extracts should be considered novel foods, full-spectrum extracts containing natural levels of cannabinoids (non-enriched extracts) should be considered traditional foods that do not require prior market authorization, according to the association.
The EIHA urged the Czech government to make “a balanced, historically accurate, and transparent decision on the marketing of hemp extracts.”
“Together, we will find a solution that benefits everyone,” said Czech Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Bartoš, who, along with Agriculture Minister Zdeněk Nekula, participated in the discussions that led to the suspension of the CBD ban.
Meanwhile, the Czech has announced the legalization of cannabis regardless.
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