Europe, Legislation

CzecHemp cluster criticizes regressive amendment on THC in hemp

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A Czech hemp organization is pushing back against a regressive amendment regarding the limit for THC in industrial hemp, saying it jeopardizes the development of the country’s cannabis bio-economy.

The Czech Cannabis Cluster (CzecHemp) said an amendment that surfaced last week in the Senate goes against the intent of a bill passed by the lower house of Parliament in June that would establish 1.0% as the limit for THC in industrial hemp plants. The new amendment suggested in the Senate would maintain the current THC limit for Czech hemp crops at 0.3%.

The bill from Parliament’s lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, would establish the 1.0% THC limit and set the stage for the legal marketing of CBD-based natural extracts as foods. Those changes are included in a broader law including amendments that would also legalize the licensed cultivation, processing and export of medical cannabis products.

Looking for the edge

The package of proposed amendments that has passed the lower house would keep the Czech Republic on Europe’s leading edge in terms of harm reduction and patient access to cannabis, advocates have said.

The 1.0% THC limit proposal specifically would put the Czech Republic well ahead of most European countries, which are timidly following EU guidance and maintaining a lower limit of 0.2% THC for hemp crops while other nations around the world are quickly adopting the 1.0% THC barrier.

The shift to 1.0% THC would mean the “creation of a safe limit for technical cannabis growers, where due to external stress some specific plants experience exceeding the current limit,” said Hana Gabrielová, president at CzecHemp. “This will prevent criminalization of those who do not grow cannabis with the intention (of producing) narcotics and psychotropic substances.” The growers will be still required to grow hemp listed in the EU plant variety database.

GMP requirement ‘irrelevant’

The higher THC level would give hemp farmers breathing room in field crops, which can go “hot” or over the THC limit under some conditions. More importantly, CBD content grows in proportion to THC in hemp plants, making the process of extraction more efficient. That would give Czech growers and producers a decided advantage over their European competitors.

CzecHemp also criticized language in a second amendment revealed last week that would obligate those growing cannabis for medicinal use to have certificates of good manufacturing practices (GMP). Such an obligation is not needed because the industry is already bound to standards of the European Medical Agency for the Cultivation of Medicinal Plants, CzecHemp noted.

“It is essentially clear that a grower wishing to market medicinal cannabis cannot do it without GMP. From this point of view, we find the requirement for GMP for growers irrelevant,” CzecHemp said.

CzecHemp, a cluster of 23 entities, includes private companies, and public sector, research and education institutions that work together to strengthen cooperation among Czech hemp and medical cannabis stakeholders.

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