Czech Republic will ban CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids

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Food safety officials in the Czech Republic say they will ban the marketing of products that contain CBD and other cannabinoids from hemp, citing EU regulations and a lack of research on the compounds’ health effects.

The Czech Ministry of Agriculture said the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority is preparing a measure intended to remove from the market all cannabinoid-containing food and dietary supplements, which are sold in such forms as oils, tinctures, capsules, gummies and other edibles. The ban will also affect cosmetics containing hemp-derived cannabinoids.

The Ministry did not give a schedule for when the ban will take effect.

Impact on businesses

The Ministry said it is following a strict interpretation of EU rules that make such products illegal. EU regulations designate CBD as a new or “novel” food that must pass safety checks by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which such products have yet to undergo.

“I cannot accept that food is placed on the market which the European Food Safety Authority cannot assure is safe,” said Minister of Agriculture Zdeněk Nekula, who admitted the ban “will have an impact on some food business operators.”

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 in EU food legislation. The ruling also declared that CBD products should enjoy the same free movement of goods between and among member states as other legal products.

Safety questions

Those changes cleared the way for EFSA to start reviewing various forms of CBD to approve them for EU markets under rules for novel foods. As that review unfolds, however, EFSA has also observed that research currently available on the effect of CBD on the liver, gastrointestinal tract, endocrine system, nervous system, and psychological well-being is insufficient.

“EFSA identified several potential risks and stated that many missing data regarding potential health effects need to be completed before progress can be made in assessing the safety of CBD and hemp extracts,” the Czech Agriculture Ministry said. “It stated that due to the lack of data, it is not possible to confirm the safety of CBD.”

Another risk: HHC

Separately, the Czech Republic has been identified as one of 20 or more EU countries where the hemp-derived psychoactive compound HHC has been found on the market. Highly-concentrated HHC products are made by putting CBD through a “semi-synthetic” process. The products, which are marketed as an alternative to marijuana, can mimic the “high” of delta-9 THC, the type most abundant in marijuana plants.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has said the rapid spread of HHC around the continent represents a risk to consumers’ health.

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