“A decision to prohibit the marketing of CBD, which indeed constitutes the most restrictive obstacle to trade in products lawfully manufactured and marketed in other [EU] member states, can be adopted only if that risk appears sufficiently established.”
“The national court must assess available scientific data in order to make sure that the real risk to public health alleged does not appear to be based on purely hypothetical considerations,” the court wrote.
The ruling also highlighted that France had not banned synthetic CBD, which has the same properties but is not produced using the entire cannabis plant.
In recent years there has been a marked growth in the use of CBD oils, tinctures, creams and other products by people seeking to relieve stress and anxiety and to reduce inflammation. A study in the European Journal of Pain suggests that skin-applied CBD can help lower arthritic pain, but there is a lack of clinical evidence for its overall efficacy, and concern over the unregulated nature of the CBD market.
The ruling was made in relation to the prosecution in France of KanaVape, a company that exports CBD oil made from whole hemp plants.
It noted that two key UN conventions classifying illegal drug do not specifically mention CBD, although they mention “cannabis extracts”.
The decision by the court of justice of the European Union deals a severe blow to efforts by some EU countries to limit the sale of CBD, while simultaneously giving the CBD industry a boost. Many products are currently sold in the EU in a legal grey area.
EIHA, the European Industrial Hemp Association, is an international organization that seeks to promote the interests of industrial cannabis entrepreneurs in Europe. EIHA proposed to the European Union that the CBD should be added in the European cosmetics database CosIng. The proposal included the removal of restrictions on Cannabis Sativa L. and the addition of three new INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) names to the list. Suggestions for names to be added were Cannabis Sativa leaf extract, Cannabis Sativa leaf / stem extract and Cannabis Sativa root extract. EIHA submitted its proposal in late 2019.
The EIHA proposal and the judgment in case C-663/18 significantly contributed to the clarification of the role of the CBD in legislation when the EU decided to legalise its use in cosmetics in all its member states from February 2021.
The position of CBD products on the European Union market has not always been very clear and changes in legislation have caused confusion among consumers. However, the legislation has now been clarified and the use of the CBD in cosmetics is legal in the European Union.
CBD products were not covered by this regulation until in 2018 when it was decided to reform the regulation. As a result, the updated Novel Food Regulation concluded that there was insufficient documentation on the use of Cannabis Sativa L. as a nutrient. The flowers and leaves of the hemp plant were also not specifically mentioned in this revised regulation.
Many cannabis entrepreneurs in Europe have marketed their products as foods. The European Union’s Novel Food Regulation has long defined the role of the CBD in Europe.