Germany’s Hempro Int. sues City of Düsseldorf over CBD ban

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Leading European hemp company Hempro International GmbH & Co. KG (Hempro Int.) has filed suit against the City of Düsseldorf, Germany, after the city banned the marketing and sales of food containing CBD in natural extract form.

Hempro Int. is contesting a July 11, 2020 ruling by the city that led to the ban, saying in a press release the city had “clearly misinterpreted a legal assessment” by the LANUV (State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection) of North Rhine-Westphalia, the German state where Düsseldorf is located and where Hempro Int. has its headquarters.

The state agency, in a letter dated April 9, 2020, prohibited only the sale of products containing cannabidiol as “CBD isolates” or “CBD-enriched hemp extracts,” but not traditionally produced natural extracts from parts of the hemp plant, Hempro Int. said in the release.

CBD products that exclusively reflect the natural spectrum of the industrial hemp plant’s ingredients do not contain any CBD isolates or CBD-enriched hemp extracts.

Decisive difference

“This is a subtle but decisive difference for the commercial hemp industry, which is now leading to the fact that not only in Düsseldorf are companies facing the ‘end’,” Hempro Int. said.

The situation in Düsseldorf reflects broader confusion in Europe over CBD, and its status under EU laws and regulations. Most recently, the European Commission created confusion by issuing a surprising “preliminary conclusion” in July that such non-medical natural hemp extracts should be considered narcotics in the EU. That led to a halt in Novel Foods applications and headaches for market participants. 

Destroying jobs

Düsseldorf is also putting itself above the assessment of the German Federal Government by banning traditionally produced natural CBD, according to Hempro Int.

“With this sales ban, the city of Düsseldorf destroys jobs and creates insecurity among consumers,” said Daniel Kruse, CEO at Hempro Int. who is also President of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA). “It’s as if we had nothing more important to do in and after the current corona crisis than to slow down innovative and ecological economic operators.”

“In the end, unfortunately, I had no choice but to file a lawsuit against my home town,” Kruse said. “Our Lord Mayor, Thomas Geisel, has deliberately declined offers of talks.”

Kruse said Hempro Int. has several times sought talks with the head of the city administration and the responsible office for environment and consumer protection, without success. “At the same time, we have directly contacted the federal Ministry for Environment, Agriculture, Nature and Consumer Protection NRW and LANUV. We have received a reply and look forward to the dialogue with (Environment) Minister (Ursula) Heinen-Esser,” Kruse said.

Mayoral elections ahead

Hempro Int. said it has informed several candidates for Lord Mayor of Düsseldorf about the lawsuit against the city over the CBD sales ban and the current administration’s lack of willingness to discuss the issue, ahead of local elections set for Sept. 13.

Hempro Int., which marks its 18th year in business in 2020, is among a group of affiliated German companies that grow hemp, and serve customers in the food, cosmetics, and textiles and accessories sectors. In 2019 the group had turnover of €17 million ($20.3 million) and employed 53 people.

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