CBD in Europe

CBD in Europe

In 1961, the Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs gave the cannabis plant a definition that classified it as a narcotic. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of 113 known cannabinoid extracts from the cannabis plant. CBD has many therapeutic uses, such as pain and anxiety reduction. In recognition of its medicinal uses, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) classified CBD in Europe as a non-narcotic “novel food” in 2019. In this context, “novel” simply meaning it was not commonly consumed in most households prior to May 1997. This means that CBD, so long as it contains less then 0.2% THC (the active psychotropic ingredient in cannabis) and is approved by the governing nation, can be freely traded as a market good in many EU member countries. The codification of CBD as a novel food has been part of an attempt to increase regulation and ensure quality in production, because a largely unregulated market meant that many CBD products of questionable quality were available for sale online. 

CBD in Europe 

However, there are still a few countries that maintain outright bans on CBD products because they are derived from the cannabis plant, countries with typically conservative leaning social ideologies, like Slovakia and MoldovaSome countries like Malta also fall into a legal gray area, where CBD is technically only available with a prescription but many pharmacies sell it over the counter and local enforcement agencies tend to look the other way. On the opposite end of the spectrum, though, are the countries anticipating full legalization, such as Luxembourg. It is holped that these countries will cause a domino effect in the EU similar to the one seen in Canada and the US. A recent report by the Centre for Medical Cannabis estimated that between 8-11% of UK adults have tried CBD, which is approximately 4-6 million people. The CBD market size is also estimated to grow to 1.5 billion dollars by 2025. As the demand for CBD has steadily increased in recent years, growing to the second largest in the world behind North America, the market has been largely unregulated. 

While the CBD market is poised for exponential growth, there are a few stumbling blocks in the way, namely the social stigma attached to cannabis and the lack of regulation. Not only has the scheduling of cannabis as a narcotic engendered decades of imputation surrounding its use, medicinal or otherwise, it has also caused some investors to hesitate when investing time and money into hemp byproducts. Investors fear the association of their brand with a product that is still considered a byproduct of an illicit substance, and little to no regulation introduces the possibility of unknowingly investing in a less than quality good.  

When it comes to addressing these issues, education and increased regulation are key to increasing interest in CBD. People generally are unaware of the difference between hemp and marijuana, and of the benefits of CBD products. Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, however hemp is any plant with a THC content lower than .2%. CBD is therefore a hemp byproduct, as it is legally required to contain less than 0.2% THC content. When it comes to the purported benefits of CBD, there are many. Most famously it has recently been found to aid in some seizure disorders that don’t typically respond to medication, such as Dravet Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome. Several studies have shown that the number of seizures was greatly reduced, or even stopped altogether. Additionally, CBD offers aid for anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Increased regulation will also help mend the public perception of CBD as questionable and possibly illicit, as it will ensure that products are safe and similar to any regulated and taxable good, such as alcohol. Stricter laws will also help investors feel more comfortable with the quality of product that they are putting money into, further boosting market growth.  

Overall, the European CBD market is extremely promising. Hopefully through increased regulation, education, and exposure a new era for cannabis in Europe can be ushered in, possibly paving the way for eventual total legalization.  Contact us for a free consult if you have questions about the business opportunities for CBD in Europe. 

Cannabis Consulting for International Operations

Since Colorado first opened its doors to recreational cannabis in 2013, there’s been a seismic shift in public policy that’s now beginning to reverberate around the world. Nearly 60 years ago, the United States essentially forced cannabis prohibition worldwide through international drug treaties. Today, legalization throughout the U.S. will likely create a domino effect. Cannabis consulting will soon be needed on an entirely new — international — level. Here’s what you need to know to get ready for a global market and how HYC can help.

Continue reading

Cannabis Branding Services: Balancing Compliance & Creativity

Branding can make or break new businesses in any industry, and unfortunately, many new businesses underestimate the power of a truly effective brand. The cannabis industry is no different — solid branding is critical for success — and most business owners can’t do it all on their own. For this reason, an investment in cannabis branding services is an investment in your business’s success. Here’s what to look for in cannabis branding services and how to effectively brand your budding cannabis operation.

Continue reading

4 Critical Considerations & Product Labeling Requirements for CBD & Hemp

4 Critical Considerations & Product Labeling Requirements for CBD & Hemp

Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been hard at work researching safe daily intake values for hemp-derived products such as CBD isolates and concentrates. More notably, the agency has been laying out product labeling requirements and distribution regulations for these products in a bid to tame the wild west atmosphere of a multi-billion dollar market with a lack of expressly written federal rules. 

4 Critical Considerations & Product Labeling Requirements for CBD & Hemp

While this development is largely welcomed by well-established hemp and CBD companies, it’s now more important than ever for smaller producers and manufacturers to grasp the basics of FDA-compliant labeling. 

FDA Crackdowns on Product Labeling Requirements & Mislabeling of CBD Products

Two recent examples of the FDA enforcing their new product labeling requirements against misleading product labels include a warning letter to the Dragontree Apothecary for falsely identifying their products as “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.” A similar warning was sent to the Puerto Rico-based CBD Gaze for claiming on their website that their products could ameliorate symptoms of COVID-19. CBD Gaze has since shut down their site. 

Prospective costs in damages and harm to CBD or hemp branding campaigns could prove impossible to recover from for businesses in their nascent stages. For this reason, it’s crucial to produce competently designed private label products (not an affiliate link) in order to avoid costly penalties or potentially devastating mass product recalls.  

While large companies are able to make use of CBD or hemp marketing and consulting services, it certainly pays for smaller enterprises — such as fledgling partnerships or family-owned operations — to know current industry labeling best practices. Let’s take a quick look at four examples below. 

Compliance with the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA)

The FDCA enumerates the bare minimum guidelines a CBD or hemp product must meet in order to officially be authorized for sale in the United States. Under these product labeling requirements, all products must contain the following basic elements: 

  • A product identity statement, which clearly and unambiguously defines the product (ex. “CBD for pets,” or “sleeping aid”). This is not to be confused with the product’s brand name or trade name. 
  • The net quantity of contents must be clearly printed; in volume for liquid products and in weight for solid products. This clarifies the amount of product excluding all packaging elements including inner leaflets, as well the amount of active CBD per serving. 
  • A legible list of all ingredients used. In states like Colorado and New Mexico, CBD and/or hemp must be clearly identified in applicable products. This is to counteract companies using euphemistic phrases like “hemp extract” or “full-spectrum hemp” in order to avoid CBD regulations. 
  • The name and complete address for the product manufacturer, along with relevant packing companies and/or distributors. An increasing number of states are also mandating the inclusion of website info, or scannable QR codes leading to web pages with complete company addresses and contact information. 

It’s worth noting that only the CBD or hemp branding, product identity, and net quantity of contents are required to be on the front panel of a product package label. The ingredients list and contact information are allowed and typically encouraged to be on the right-side panel, commonly known as the “information panel.” However, these must be no less than 1/16th of an inch in height to legally be considered legible. 

Transparency on Material Facts & Caution Statements

There are several factors potential buyers are not only likely to deem important, but appreciate easy access to in product packaging. If a product is unsafe for children or pregnant women, this should be clearly disclosed.  

Items such as batch identification numbers, batch dates, certifications of analysis, and so on are other examples of product transparency that separate ethical companies from odious ones.  

Avoiding Spurious Medical or Health Claims

It’s one thing to highlight a product’s positive differentiators (ex., GMO free, vegan) as a means of playing one’s strengths in a competitive market. However, companies making unfounded claims of their products’ health benefits or therapeutic value overstep CBD product labeling requirements and regulations by implying their products can be used to treat disease, which is classified by the FDA and state authorities as the marketing of unapproved drugs in violation of the FDCA. For this reason, many states require that CBD and hemp products make no health claims whatsoever on their labels and packaging. 

Recognizing the Role of Aesthetics in Attracting Consumers

Making use of color, fonts, or even textures on labels and packaging are solid strategies in product design as in any industry. Going on to create branding homogeneity across physical marketing and digital channels — such as in a company’s web presence — is taking the extra step to ensuring products have both the stellar design and recognizability to pop from shelves. 

If you have any questions about product labeling requirements and whether your CBD or hemp products align with the existing regulations, reach out to us for a free consultation.

METRC in California: What You Can Do to Stay Compliant

There’s a subtle but savory irony in the fact that an industry that has historically measured its core product in both grams and ounces has embraced a platform called METRC. But what is METRC, exactly? METRC — which stands for Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting and Compliance — is a comprehensive cannabis compliance system that handles tracking, tracing, trending, and reporting from seed to sale, and it has gone awry in California. We’re here to help California cannabusinesses get a handle METRC compliance.

Continue reading