In another policy flip-flop, Italy again designates CBD as a narcotic

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The Italian government has again done an about-face on CBD, issuing a new decree categorizing the hemp-derived compound as a narcotic substance.

The change comes after a similar decree in 2020 was reversed days after it was issued, and a subsequent 2022 decree banning CBD that was eventually struck down by a regional court in Lazio, which ordered authorities to adjust Italian law to get in line with the EU.

In a legally binding ruling applicable in all EU member states, the European Commission declared in 2020 that CBD is not a narcotic, following a celebrated European Union Court of Justice ruling to that effect made earlier in the same year.

Industry quick to criticize

The most recent decree from the Italian Ministry of Health, published in the government’s Official Gazette last month, goes into force Sept. 21.

Italian cannabis organizations were vocal in their criticism of the government’s latest moves:

“If it were to enter into force as it is, this provision will certainly have a great impact on all companies involved in the production, processing and marketing of natural origin CBD-based hemp extracts,” Canapa Sativa Italia, an industry association, said. “Their sale will require a rigorous system of registration as a drug with the Ministry of Health, a procedure absolutely unsuitable for a substance without risks such as CBD.”

Hemp federation Federcanapa said the decree will damage local producers, but the government will not be able to prevent the distribution of CBD foods and cosmetics imported from other European countries.

‘Choking’ the sector

Viola Brugnatelli, a neuropharmacologist and co-founder of online cannabis academy Cannabiscienza, told the website “the decree will have the result of once again choking the sector’s economy, because it effectively means banning the sale of the substance, which has been an over-the-counter introduction to cannabis by many patients.

Industry lawyer and drugs policy expert Carlo Alberto Zaina called for the CBD industry to unite in fighting the decree. “The only way to contrast this unacceptable drift is that of a new, open-ended legal battle in which all the interested activities can become consortium members; their very existence depends on it.” he told Dolce Vita Online.

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