Germany Aligns with EU on CBD Novel Food Classification

14th November 2019

The German federal government has announced that it will follow the direction from the EU, relating to CBD as a ‘novel food’. The European Commission ruled that CBD, and products containing it, are to be considered a novel food throughout Europe. Products are categorised as ‘novel’, if it was not significantly consumed before May 15th, 1997.

The decision to consider CBD a ‘novel food’ means, in theory, that it cannot be marketed in the EU without authorisation. Since the ruling of the European Commission in January 2019, few EU countries have enforced the policy. The result is a number of unregulated CBD markets across Europe.

Germany’s decision to enforce the ruling follows guidance from the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety. It claimed that it was not aware of any case where CBD could be legally marketed as a food product.

Some argued that the ‘novel food’ classification should not stand, as it is a Hemp derivative. People have used Hemp material for health and wellness purposes, long before 1997.

However, the German authorities clarified that though Hemp may not be novel in itself, the novel food regulation still applies to the manufactured food product, derived from it.

Few countries in the European Union have enforced the regulation on CBD products, with the market remaining unregulated. For example, in the UK it is estimated that around 6 million people use CBD products. However, an official regulatory body for the country’s CBD industry is yet to be developed.

Collectors of Cannabis Data, Analytics, and Business Intelligence, Prohibition Partners stated in ‘The Germany Cannabis Report”:

“[In] Austria and Spain … the enforcement of the Novel Foods Regulation by the authorities led to the CBD food market to come to a standstill in 2018 … Because no single application for approval of a novel food with regard to a CBD product has yet been approved.”

It remains to be seen how the adopted stance on CBD will affect the national market of the compound.


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