European association pushes for clarity around extracts in cosmetics

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The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) is pushing to install clear language about ingredients derived from industrial hemp in the EU’s Cosing database, a list of approved cosmetic substances and ingredients that guides the definition of cosmetic products in EU Member States.

EIHA has released an 8-page position paper that calls into question decisions proposed earlier this year by the EU Working Group on Cosmetic Products, which advises the European Commission. EIHA said the proposal fails to align EU rules with the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the international treaty that guides production and supply of specific drugs.


“Given that the latest changes have been dictated by an alignment exercise between the (Single Convention) and EU regulations, it seems appropriate to underline the inaccuracy of this harmonization, as industrial hemp is clearly excluded from the scope of the UN Single Convention,” EIHA said in the position paper.

European Industrial Hemp Association

Get up to date on CBD in cosmetics at EIHA’s workshop in Cologne this Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Guidance under Cosing gives individual EU member states a framework to set national rules for cosmetics.

“As long as cosmetic products do not fall under the competency of Member States’ medicine and pharmaceutical regulations, there is no obligation whatsoever to prohibit their production, manufacture and use,” EIHA said.

Undermining the science

EIHA said the restrictions implied by the Working Group’s proposed decision would mean the creation of a new layer of regulations specific to CBD, which has proven the most lucrative application for industrial hemp.

“Taking such steps undermines the WHO’s recent scientific assessment of CBD, and its recommendation that it should not fall under the scope of the Single Convention,” the EIHA paper points out.

“Worst, this seems to go in the exact opposite direction of the global trend, where countries from China to the United States of America are reforming their hemp laws towards simplification, to support a constantly growing hemp market,” EIHA asserted.

EIHA’s proposal

EIHA’s proposal for Cosing suggests that extracts from industrial hemp and pure CBD should be prohibited from use in cosmetic products only if they are not manufactured in compliance with laws in a country of origin. The Association recommends the limit for THC in cosmetic products should not exceed 20 μg THC/g.

Noting “some of the hottest, most talked about ingredients in cosmetics today are cannabis derivatives,” EIHA pointed out that “unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion on cannabis derivatives related to their quality and what they legally may contain. The last change in the Cosing database, which is not a legally binding document, confirms this negative tendency.”

Agricultural product

Industrial hemp (expressis verbis seeds and leaves) and any products or ingredients derived from industrial hemp are clearly excluded from the scope of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, EIHA stressed.

At EU community level, the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.) is considered as an agricultural product and as an “industrial plant” both for cultivation and seed production, EU regulations state (Regulation 1308/2013), and may be grown legally as long as its THC content does not exceed 0,2%, the current maximum level for THC in industrial hemp generally observed by most EU member states.

Similar regulations can be found in the national laws of member states.

New INCI entries

Following the recent changes in the Cosing database, EIHA proposed new wording for Cannabidiol and 3 new entries based on the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients (INCI), the most comprehensive and widely recognized international listing of ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products.

The new wording takes into account the basic legality of hemp under existing international treaties, but also the rules of the European Union and the Member States concerning the precise classification of hemp for industrial use. For clarification purposes EIHA requested the following categories be added as new INCI entries in the Cosing database: Cannabis Sativa leaf extract; Cannabis Sativa leaf/stem extract; Cannabis Sativa root extract.

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