Polish CBD sellers will fight federal opinion

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Polish CBD producers and sellers are reacting swiftly to an opinion from the country’s federal Chief Sanitary Inspectorate (GIS) that could put domestic sales of their food and health supplements in jeopardy. The opinion, directed at regional and local sanitary inspectors, is only advisory in nature.

At issue is a letter sent out from GIS to regional and local sanitary inspectors that identifies CBD products, present in food and dietary supplements, as “novel foods” which require a license to introduce to the market. Technically, the advisory from the federal level has no legal weight in Poland but rather serves to guide local inspectors, who carry out on-the-ground enforcement of sanitary and food rules — which could include removing CBD food and supplement products from retail shops.

Responsibility is local

“Under the food safety law, it’s not the decision of the federal government to actually remove a product. They have issued their opinion,” one Polish producer told HempToday. “It’s the authority of the local sanitary inspector” to enforce any rules triggered by the GIS advisory.

Meanwhile, CBD products in Poland continue to be available to the public. “GIS has not blocked the sales of any CBD products. We are in the middle of discussions with them,” another producer said. “We provided proof that hemp flowers were used in food before 1997 together with European commission papers saying that,” he added. Foods commonly available in Europe before 1997 are not considered “novel foods” and are therefore exempt from that form of licensing.

CBD producers and proponents had been hopeful in January when the issue of CBD was not addressed during a parliamentary commission meeting. THC levels relevant to hemp-based food also was not a topic, sources reported to HempToday, implying tacit approval for those products.

Ominous signals

Signals began changing early this year when GIS blocked the registration and sales of a CBD product from one Polish firm. At the time, other Polish producers of CBD, sold on the domestic market as a dietary supplement, didn’t fear any kind of crackdown.

There were as many as 80 total CBD products from a range of Polish and foreign companies already at some stage in the GIS registration regime when GIS started the notification process. One of those is from Poland’s Institute of Natural Fibres (IWNiRZ), which reports directly to the government via the Ministry of Agriculture; it has continued to produce and sell its Hemp Element brand of hemp oil drops in conjunction with Warsaw-based Hemp Medicals, with distribution via apothecaries.

CBD stakeholders in Poland stress that GIS is wrong in considering CBD and CBD supplements as novel food. Under rules governing novel foods, a license is required to introduce the product to the marketplace. But Polish CBD producers and sellers note the European Union as early as 1997 declared hemp and hemp extracts to be foodstuffs, exempting them from novel food rules.

Confusion over THC also

The Polish firms also say some market confusion exists regarding THC levels allowed in food. While laws governing narcotics identify cannabis with less than 0.2% as allowable in food, the law on food safety says no psychotropic ingredients may be present.

“We assume if government accepts (less than 0.2% thc) hemp for food production, the products can be legally sold as food,” said one CBD producer. “We’re prepared to go to court to prove our case on that too, if necessary.”

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