• March 1, 2021

Hemp is a Narcotic (at least to European Commissioners)

 Hemp is a Narcotic (at least to European Commissioners)

Hemp, or CBD products, are all the rage in America, but it may soon be dubbed a narcotic in Europe.
Photo by Leland Rucker

You didn’t read that headline wrong. No click-bait here. The European Commission – the executive branch of the European Union – is considering whether cannabidiol, or CBD, much of which is made from hemp, should be regulated like heroin, methamphetamine and other substances banned by the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotics of 1961.

This is in spite of the simple fact that no one has ever gotten “high” from CBD. No one. 

To designate cannabis as hemp, the European Commission uses a lower than 0.2 percent milligrams per milliliter of THC – the more psychoactive component in marijuana. There’s not a chance in hell you get a buzz from that, no matter how much you use. Compare it to Colorado recreational cannabis, which starts at 12-15 percent THC and goes up from there. 

And humans have been using hemp for centuries now, as medicine and for a variety of industrial applications, like rope, blankets, shoes, shirts, etc. But these days, the healing oils found in hemp have become a booming, multi-billion dollar industry in America alone.

If the commission’s decision is upheld it will mean that CBD won’t be able to be used in any food items in Europe, even as there are about 50 applications for CBD food products pending at the moment; all of which are suspended for now.

Every country has its own rules and regulations. That has some European countries seeking better and broader distribution channels, even as neighboring nations aren’t. But if the EU designates it a narcotic, those 50 applications and many more will become moot, because hemp products will no longer be legally available.

This is somewhat reminiscent of America’s choice in 1937 to tax all cannabis, including hemp, out of business. This led to the elimination of a working American agricultural industry, which left other countries filling the gap in hemp production. American hemp wasn’t allowed again until 2018.

A European Union decision on CBD is expected in September, but don’t expect that to be the last word. The World Health Organization is set to vote in December on whether to reschedule THC.

If that happens, rules on CBD might change, yet again, or it could wind up in a legal limbo that could last years. If you’re a European CBD business, the future is extremely uncertain. If you’re a consumer, will you have to use the already thriving black market or find some other way to get your medicine? Stay tuned as this plays out.

Leland Rucker

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. He covered the popular music industry for years, worked extensively in internet and cable news, and co-authored The Toy Book, a history of OK Boomer playthings. Sweet Lunacy, his documentary film co-written and produced with Don Chapman, is a history of the Boulder music scene from the 1950s through the 1980s. He is author and editor of Dimensional Cannabis, the first pop-up book of marijuana.

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