EIHA: Europe at ‘disadvantage’ under 0.2% THC limit

Analysis from HempToday, the voice of the global hemp industries.

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has again called on the European Union to reverse a tightening of THC levels for industrial hemp-based products enacted in 1999 “to restore the European hemp industry’s full competitiveness.”

“EIHA demands rational THC limits for industrial hemp in accordance with international regulations,” the Association said in a release. It called for an easing of the 17-year-old restriction that sets maximum THC content for industrial hemp at 0.2% in Europe while other markets around the world set that limit at 0.3%.

‘Significant disadvantage’

“The hemp food industry in Europe has a significant competitive disadvantage to producers in North America and Asia. With increasing hemp food markets, this problem will become even bigger in subsequent years,” EIHA said.

Europe specific THC limit values for industrial hemp were first set at 0.5% in 1984. The limit was later cut to 0.3% based on a standard set out in the 1970s by the International Association for Plant Taxonomy (IAPT), and based on the work of American plant scientists Ernest Small and Arthur Cronquist. Their work for the IAPT set 0.3 % THC (dry weight) as the line between cannabis sativa (“hemp”) and cannabis indica (“marijuana”).

The European Union in 1999 further tightened the allowable amount of THC for hemp to 0.2% in a misguided effort aimed at preventing marijuana grows in industrial hemp fields.

‘No safety effect’ at 0.3%

EIHA said boosting the THC limit to 0.3% will have “no noticeable effect on illicit Cannabis production,” and noted that studies have proven there is no more safety risk in hemp containing 0.3% than there is in hemp with 0.2% THC.

“Decades of experience in Canada have shown that hemp seeds from industrial hemp with 0.3 % THC have no relevant higher THC values and that hemp seeds can also be classified with this (0.3 % THC) threshold value as absolutely safe and harmless,” EIHA said, citing guidance the Association published in 2007.

EIHA, which marks its 15th anniversary in 2018, is a consortium of European hemp stakeholders with interests in all hemp sub-sectors. Originally founded as an association for the European hemp industry, a fourth of its 130 current members are based outside the EU.

(More background on hemp regulations in the European Union)