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Italian stakeholders parry in struggle to free the entire plant

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Italian hemp association Federcanapa is pushing back against provisions under consideration by the government the group says contravene European law and ignore a landmark decision by the European Court of Justice last year regarding CBD and other extracts.

At issue are proposed regulations that would separate jurisdiction of hemp inflorescences (flowers & leaves) from other parts of the plant and require Ministry of Health authorization for their production.

“It is evident, if it were definitively adopted, the decree would sanction an unjustified and anachronistic limitation for farmers who would be forced . . . to have to ‘select’ a plant by renouncing the parts with the major health properties,” Federcanapa said in a recent public statement.

Adjusting rules

Italy and other EU member states are in the process of clarifying rules for hemp extracts derived from inflorescences after major developments over the past year. In November 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled in a landmark French case that hemp extracts from leaves and flowers and the CBD they contain are not narcotic drugs and may be freely traded among EU member states. That ruling eventuallly led the European Commission to reverse its previous position that hemp should be considered a narcotic in EU states.

Italian authorities don’t seem to have gotten the message.

“We express our disappointment at the umpteenth measure adopted by the competent bodies with an unjustifiably restrictive content against the industrial hemp sector,” Federcanapa said.

Commitment to ‘full-plant’

The association noted with displeasure that the agriculture ministry, which generally oversees hemp in Italy, sent a draft including the restrictive provision on hemp flowers to the State-Regions Conference, a permanently convened body of regional representatives which gives opinions on national legislative matters. That is despite the fact that a legislative commission on agriculture has already committed the government to allow use of the entire plant for industrial purposes, Federcanapa noted.

Federcapapa said it will mount formal challenges to the government if it adopts the flower restrictions, on the basis such a rule would violate provisions under the EU’s common market. ”We will challenge the provision in the competent offices, not being able to accept such a restriction which would cause serious and unjustified prejudice against Italian farmers compared to those of other European countries,” the association warned.

Federcanapa was among a group of Italian stakeholder organizations who last month issued proposed guidelines for CBD extracts, terpenes, flavonoids and other non-narcotic cannabinoids, urging the Parliament to set clear rules that would allow Italian operators to compete in both domestic and international markets.

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