Regulating hemp: European Parliament endorses higher THC levels and marketing standards
28 Oct 2020 --- A favorable vote has brought European Parliament one step closer to increasing the THC level legal in hemp plants on the field from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent. MEPs have also voted in favor of the possibility of establishing marketing standards for hemp.
The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) welcomes the move but flags that in legal terms, nothing changes until a compromise text is adopted.
“The Council, Parliament and Commission will now work on a compromise text that will be adopted in 2021,” Francesco Mirizzi, EIHA’s senior policy advisor, tells NutritionInsight.
The support was part of the European Parliament’s vote on its negotiating position regarding the three regulations that shape the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
Support from EIHA
This vote represents a major achievement for the European hemp sector, according to the EIHA.
If the two provisions are adopted, there could be major impacts on the development of hemp businesses.
EIHA also notes that the THC level increase would allow new varieties to enter the market and be bred. This could result in a better adaptation of the crops to the different EU territories’ climatic conditions.
Notably, raising THC levels to 0.3 percent would actually be a return to old rules from before 1999.
According to Mirizzi, before the THC levels had been raised to 0.3 percent to 0.2 percent, it had been even higher at 0.5 percent.
The establishment of marketing standards could also help increase the quality and standardization of hemp products. It could also help establish a clear regulatory framework covering a wide range of aspects.
Marketing standards encompass aspects already existing for most agricultural products like sales descriptions, classification criteria, presentation, labeling, packaging, product characteristics, specific substances used and farming methods, among others.
“Marketing standards are rules that aim at improving the economic conditions for the production and marketing as well as the quality of the agricultural products,” says Mirizzi.
He points out that if there are no common rules at EU levels, then there is no common market. “A common market would mean all operators in the EU have equal access and conditions for entering national markets.”
A renewed approach
EIHA is now encouraging the European Council to take on the proposals put forward by the legislative body of the EU.
“For decades, hemp has been considered as a minor crop, while for centuries, it has been a key asset for our economies,” says Daniel Kruse, EIHA President.
“The vote of the Parliament reflects a renewed approach of our society to this wonderful plant that has the potential of decarbonizing many different manufacturing sectors and providing farmers with a consistent and green source of revenues,” he adds.
Regulation around hemp and hemp-related ingredients has long been complicated.
In July, the European Commission froze all applications of hemp extracts and natural cannabinoids under Novel Food regulation, considering them to be drugs.
Across the Atlantic, the hemp industry recently welcomed a new bill proposed by Congress that would help create a clear regulatory framework in the US. Earlier this year, Hawaiʻi joined US states, including Virginia and Texas, in attempting to fill CBD legislative gaps.
By Katherine Durrell
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