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Why CBD novel food status may impact cosmetics?

Updated: Aug 2

In January 2019, the European Commission determined that cannabinoids should be considered to be novel foods. This means that #CBD must go through the EU’s novel food authorisation procedure before it can be used in supplements, food or drink. 

In the cosmetics industry, many of us noted what was happening in the food industry but then quickly discarded it as something we didn’t need to be too concerned about.  So why the interest now?

It is generally accepted that plant-derived CBD can be used in cosmetics in the EU providing it isn’t derived from the flowering or fruiting top.  The EU Cosmetics Regulation includes a ban on narcotics, which directly refers to the International Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961).  The entry for cannabis and cannabis extracts refers to the flowering and fruiting tops only.

This week, it has been widely reported that the European Commission may not, after all, be willing to consider novel food applications for products made from hemp flowers.  The reasoning behind this being that being derived from the flower would constitute an ‘extract of cannabis’ under the Convention and, therefore, be a narcotic drug.  Narcotics cannot be used in food in the EU as general food law also prohibits anything listed in the 1961 Convention.

The Commission view is not final but, if adopted, this view could be a major setback for the EU CBD food industry but would, in fact, be aligned with the current position on cosmetics.

But what if the Commission adopts the opposing view? Could this be something that we see the EU and UK diverging on in the future? Could this have an impact for cosmetics and potentially open up the scope of what we can use as an industry?  I guess we will have to wait and see! 


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