Patchwork of regulations on Cannabidiol (CBD) endangering use as a food supplement to the detriment of consumers and food industry

CBD-containing and CBD are generating new investments and creating employment in the cultivation and processing of hemp and hemp-derived products

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the non-psychotropic cannabinoids in industrial hemp. It not only has a plethora of beneficial health effects, it also shows no relevant side-effects. CBD-containing extracts are increasingly used in food supplement compositions, and in its pure form, CBD is becoming a recognized ingredient in cosmetics, thereby generating new investments and creating employment in the cultivation and processing of hemp and hemp-derived products.

At the moment, there is only a tenuous patchwork of CBD and hemp extracts regulation in the European Union endangering the use in food supplements to the detriment of consumers and industry. Today, several 100,000 citizens already benefit from CBD, dozens of companies show double-digit growth and increasing demand. However, without a reasonable and harmonised regulation framework, this positive trend will probably be short lived.

Some member states have already published regulations on the topic of CBD and hemp extracts. Some countries limit the use of CBD only to medical applications; others allow the use of hemp extracts in food supplements. Most member states have just started to discuss national regulations.

It also should be highlighted that internationally, we see very rational and CBD friendly regulation being implemented, for example in the US, in South America and soon in Canada. Therefore, European authorities are strongly urged to ensure a level playing-field for the European industrial hemp industry by setting reasonable guidance values and regulations.

There is also no reason to regulate access to CBD-containing products too rigorously, because of the wide spectrum of beneficial physiological effects of CBD and its favourable safety profile (see details below).

For different doses and applications of CBD-containing products, EIHA proposes a three-tier regulation:

  • At high doses, CBD is a medicinal product and should be regulated as such.
  • At medium doses, CBD-containing products should be regarded as an OTC-product (= over the counter) or a food supplement. This approach is already applied for many substances, such as valerian, glucosamine, chondroitin(sulfate), Ginkgo Biloba, some vitamins and iron products.
  • Low CBD concentrations and doses should be allowed in food products without any restrictions.
  • Additional aspects such as route of administration, indication area, maximum single / daily dose and pack size can be used to further fine-tune the regulation.

In some member states, CBD-containing extracts are sold to end consumers as a food supplement, in most member states this is not the case. The “British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)” is seriously discussing a three-tier regulation after two meetings with EIHA representatives. EIHA is also in contact with the German authorities. In Austria, the discussion on legislation just started.

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) scientifically supports the development of reasonable and harmonized legislation on CBD and hemp extracts in Europe and in all member states, to make sure that consumers are protected, to sustain the industry’s current double-digit growth rate, to attract new investors and to boost product development.
Europe should not miss this chance for consumer health and well-being and industrial growth in agriculture and the food industry.

EIHA gives access to the latest scientific information on CBD and hemp extracts as well a comprehensive position paper, which is signed already by nearly 700 consumers:

Background information: CBD has wide spectrum of beneficial physiological effects and a favourable safety profile

Numerous scientific studies prove CBD’s therapeutic potential in a large number of diseases and symptoms. Just to name few: anxiety disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder), obesity, epilepsy, dystonia, diabetes, cancer, neurodermatitis and Alzheimer’s. Its antibacterial properties may be used to prevent infection and control inflammation: CBD is effective against staphylococci, streptococci and even against clinically relevant MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

Equally important as CBD’s pharmacological effects are its health-maintaining properties (physiological effects) in lower doses. These include antioxidative, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. For example, CBD is a neuroprotective antioxidant more potent than ascorbate (“Vitamin C”) or tocopherol (“Vitamin E”). As a cosmetic ingredient, CBD can be used to decrease sebum / sebocytes.

A comprehensive review on the safety and side effects of CBD shows that even very high doses of CBD are safe and well tolerated without significant side effects. In a total of 132 reviewed publications, CBD did not induce catalepsy; it did not affect factors such as heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, gastrointestinal transit, nor did it alter psychomotor and cognitive functions.

More details and scientific sources:

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Luis Sarmento
+49 2233 4814 61

Michael Carus


European Industrial Hemp Association, press release, 2017-03-29.


European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)


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