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Italy’s Ministry of Health cancels decree naming all CBD ‘narcotic’

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Italy’s Ministry of Health has canceled a decree issued earlier this month that added CBD to the country’s list of medicines, essentially giving the compound narcotics status in all applications. Health Minister Roberto Speranza today issued a second decree nullifying the original, which had been vehemently opposed by both Italian and European hemp associations.

A separate order from Italy’s Customs and Monopoly Agency that had warned retailers to stop selling CBD products has also been lifted.

Working group planned

The Ministry said it will now convene a working group to address the status of CBD “in a systematic and comprehensive manner,” suggesting it will invite the government’s Higher Institute of Health and Higher Council of Health to re-evalulate the compound and look into “whether the effects of the active substance cannabidiol remain unchanged regardless of the percentage of use of the same.”

“We welcome the change of direction that Italy took tonight, and we look forward to a fruitful discussion that should start shortly,” said Lorenza Romanese, Managing Director of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA).

EIHA and Federcanapa, the Italian Hemp Federation, had announced earlier this week their intention to fight the original decree in Italy’s Regional Administrative Court, noting it had mistakenly failed to recognize any distinction between CBD in industrial and medicinal applications.

Confusion over CBD levels

Ostensibly issued to prepare for the introduction to the Italian market of Epidiolex, a high-CBD medicine that is prescribed for specific debilitating forms of epilepsy, the original decree implied that CBD was to be considered a narcotic even in industrial products where the compound is present in lower amounts.

Epidiolex, made by UK-based GW Pharma, is currently being introduced in Italy and several other European markets. It has been found effective in the treatment of Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, two severe forms of epilepsy.

While Federcanapa and EIHA agree that high-dose CBD remedies such as Epidiolex should be regulated as prescription-only medicinal products, they stress that non-medicinal CBD in food and supplements, which carry much lower CBD content, is allowed under Italy’s Industrial Hemp Law (242/2016), which has been in effect since 2017.

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