Since this only concerns novel foods, it may not affect CBD in other types of products, such as cosmetics.
The craze for cannabidiol (CBD) derived from hemp extends beyond the United States and Europe. A lot has been written about the difference between how the European Union (EU) regulates the CBD as opposed to the United States. That could all change once the EU considers new laws for CBD products.
For some background, the European Food Safety Authority (“EFSA”) has previously classified CBD as a “novel food(Novel food). A "novel food" is "food that was not used for human consumption in the Union to a significant degree before 15 May 1997, regardless of the dates of accession of the Member States to the Union." Under EU regulations, anyone wishing to sell food containing a “novel food” must first obtain a permit from EFSA.
EU directives across a plethora of different cannabinoids suggested that foods containing cannabinoids from hemp (and not just CBD) were considered novel foods, as there is no evidence that they were consumed before the 1997 date. If something is labeled a novel food, certain regulatory approvals are required to market it. Needless to say, this is probably a long process.
In mid-July 2020, the EU was reported to have stopped novel food registrations for foods containing CBD and is apparently considering designating such CBD-bearing foods as narcotics. And here we actually thought that the US policy on CBD in foods was already bizarre.
According to reports, the EU has notified all about 50 applicants for CBD novel foods and instructed them to provide feedback on whether the substances should be classified as narcotics. This is especially true for naturally occurring CBD products, and an EU spokesperson reportedly noted that requests for products with synthetically derived CBD can still be made. Since this concerns only the novel foods, it may not have an effect on CBD in other types of products, such as cosmetics.
We imagine applicants will be challenging this recent change of EU position, with reports that the European Industrial Hemp Association has already lobbied hard against it. Only time will tell whether the EU is trying to label or regulate CBD gummies as narcotics, with Americans hoping, in the meantime, that the FDA's long-awaited regulations aren't going the same way.