In February, the European Commission (EC) reclassified CBD as a “Novel Food” meaning the EC considered it a food “not consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997.”
“With this authorisation, we hope that we can establish our company as pioneers in Bulgaria’s CBD industry and leaders in CBD education throughout Europe.”
The country’s food authorities issued a Free Certificate of Sale to the Californian-based firm last month effectively allowing the export of Kannaway’s imported goods sold in Bulgaria’s open markets.
“As the EU continues to navigate its stance on CBD, we are proud to continue paving the way for the acceptance of CBD in Bulgaria just as we have in many other countries around the world,” said Kannaway CEO Blake Schroeder.
Media reports state Kannaway’s products “comply fully with relevant requirements of the Law on Foodstuffs of Republic of Bulgaria and of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of European Parliament and the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs”.
If confirmed, the decision by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, marks the first time a country within the EU has taken such a decision.
According to the documents, authorities class the products sold by Kannaway, a subsidiary of Medical Marijuana Inc, as “traditional foods” specifically food supplements, therefore bypassing the EU’s current classification of CBD products.
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The landscape of CBD and hemp-derived products in the EU is tumultuous, at best, several industry insiders mentioned.
Next moves should be observed closely.
However, in February of this year, the European Parliament voted on a resolution that would help advance medical cannabis in the countries that form the European Union. Then, in April, the European Parliament approved another series of proposals to increase the limits for THC in CBD products from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent. The latter measures should be enacted by 2021.
Jonas Duclos is the CEO of Switzerland-based JKB Research, the company behind CBD420, a line of low-THC cannabis products sold across tobacco shops and other “regular” stores across Europe – albeit on the back of a legal loophole, rather than an explicit free sale permit. When asked about the permit and the precedent it sets for other EU countries, he said “It’s great news to see the validation of CBD by the authorities of an EU country.”
Taking this into account and circling back to Bulgaria’s recently issued Free Sale permit, it seems the big difference with previous EU rules revolves around the status of CBD products. While novel foods, defined by the European Commission as those that have not “been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force,” the permit issued in Bulgaria considers the CBD products it encompasses to be “food product(s) / food supplement(s) [and as such] is/are placed on the market in accordance with relevant legislation of EU and Republic of Bulgaria, and is / are subject to free-sale on Bulgarian market.”
Several experts contacted could neither confirm nor deny the company’s claim about this being the first Free Sale Certificate for CBD, although all of them were intrigued by the development.
Sergiy Kovalenkov, CEO of Hempire, and Roderick Stephan of Altitude Investment Management, could, however, point in the right direction: They both explained most products containing CBD are considered “novel foods” in Europe – but regulations and limitations are still confusing
The Ripple Effect
A First In The EU?
Kannaway’s vice president for its international segment, Alex Grapov, acknowledged the confusion in the EU, but said the firm is “excited to be on the forefront of companies who are working to dispel the myths and inconsistencies of the industry and expand access with lab-tested hemp-derived CBD products in Bulgaria and soon in other EU nations”.
Medicinal cannabis is still on the agenda for the European Parliament, however business has slowed down due to the election period that has now ended. Earlier this year members approved a plan to commit more money and research into medicinal cannabis, and set in motion a plan that would harmonise laws across the bloc related to studying the drug.
The move means hemp-derived CBD products can be sold in Bulgaria as “traditional foods,” as defined by the The European Industrial Hemp Association.
European authorities, having made the announcement, have shown little desire to enforce the law however, and CBD remains on sale in shops across the continent.
“We can not find news of any other country in the EU issuing a Free Certificate of Sale for CBD,” a Kannaway spokesperson told media.
The products “comply fully with relevant requirements of the Law on Foodstuffs of Republic of Bulgaria and of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of European Parliament and the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs,” according to documentation, and the compliance also extends to exports.
The legal status of CBD is still unclear in the EU, as the substance is classed as a “novel food” under regulations, and is being sold without the correct authorisation.
Under the regulation, novel foods are defined as not “been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force.”
Bulgaria has become the first European Union state to officially allow a CBD distribution company to sell openly on the market.