This EU Country Has Become The First To Allow Free Sale Of CBD
- May 28, 2019
Cannabis In Europe
Bulgaria has issued its first authorization for a company to sell hemp-derived cannabidiol, or CBD, products freely, in open markets.
According to official documents procured exclusively, Bulgaria’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency, have issued a Free Certificate of Sale for a series of products containing CBD. The products, produced by Kannaway, a subsidiary of publicly traded cannabis company Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTC: MJNA), are now certified to “comply fully with relevant requirements of the Law on Foodstuffs of Republic of Bulgaria and of Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of European Parliament and the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs.”
The permit also allows for exports.
A First In The EU?
According to Kannaway, this Free Sale Certificate the company received is the first ever granted for CBD in a European Union member country. “We can not find news of any other country in the EU issuing a Free Certificate of Sale for CBD,” a company representative added.
One Of The Products Authorized For Sale In Bulgaria
Several experts contacted could neither confirm nor deny the company’s claim about this being the first Free Sale Certificate for CBD, although all of them were intrigued by the development.
Sergiy Kovalenkov, CEO of Hempire, and Roderick Stephan of Altitude Investment Management, could, however, point in the right direction: They both explained most products containing CBD are considered “novel foods” in Europe – but regulations and limitations are still confusing
“So, you can sell CBD products as ‘novel food,’ as long as you obtain a permit to do so,” Kovalenkov said.
Taking this into account and circling back to Bulgaria’s recently issued Free Sale permit, it seems the big difference with previous EU rules revolves around the status of CBD products. While novel foods, defined by the European Commission as those that have not “been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force,” the permit issued in Bulgaria considers the CBD products it encompasses to be “food product(s) / food supplement(s) [and as such] is/are placed on the market in accordance with relevant legislation of EU and Republic of Bulgaria, and is / are subject to free-sale on Bulgarian market.”
In other words, certain hemp-derived CBD products will now be sold in Bulgaria as “traditional foods,” as The European Industrial Hemp Association defined them while talking at the PAFF Committee earlier this year.
The Ripple Effect
Getting further into the issue, Kannaway’s vice president for its international segment, Alex Grapov, noticed that, “[t]here’s a lot of uncertainty about cannabis throughout the EU,” adding the team is “excited to be on the forefront of companies who are working to dispel the myths and inconsistencies of the industry and expand access with lab-tested hemp-derived CBD products in Bulgaria and soon in other EU nations.”
Jonas Duclos is the CEO of Switzerland-based JKB Research, the company behind CBD420, a line of low-THC cannabis products sold across tobacco shops and other “regular” stores across Europe – albeit on the back of a legal loophole, rather than an explicit free sale permit. When asked about the permit and the precedent it sets for other EU countries, he said “It’s great news to see the validation of CBD by the authorities of an EU country.”
“Hopefully this will be successful in setting a positive precedent and show a possible way forward for CBD and cannabis within legality for the rest of the European Union, something that has actually been overdue,” he added, mentioning that the example of Switzerland, a non EU country where CBD products are sold freely.
Bulgaria becomes the second domino and an important step to support the trend within the EU.”
A Little Background
Earlier this year, Kannaway traveled to Bulgaria to meet with government officials and regulatory bodies. They say they helped explain the positive impact on the country’s finances and its population’s health selling CBD could have.
One Of The Products Authorized For Sale In Bulgaria
The officials quickly understood hemp and hemp-derived products, such as CBD, could in fact represent a significant economic opportunity, thus deciding to allow Kannaway to sell its products throughout the country.
The landscape of CBD and hemp-derived products in the EU is tumultuous, at best, several industry insiders mentioned.
However, in February of this year, the European Parliament voted on a resolution that would help advance medical cannabis in the countries that form the European Union. Then, in April, the European Parliament approved another series of proposals to increase the limits for THC in CBD products from 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent. The latter measures should be enacted by 2021.
It’s also been highly debated throughout the EU if hemp and CBD should be considered “novel food.” According to the European Commission, a novel food is one that has not “been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before May 15 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force. This has led some EU nations to ban CBD.
In a move that could start a ripple effect, Bulgaria has seemingly become the first to move in the opposite direction, allowing for the free sale of hemp-derived CBD products instead of banning them.
Bringing up his firm’s experience in the U.S. and Canada, Roderick Stephan shared some final thoughts about hemp and CBD in Europe: “the metamorphosis will not be identical, but it will rhyme .
“Chipping away at the regulatory roadblocks to the European CBD wellness market is inevitable and represents only one precursor to the ultimate, soon-to-be, almost ubiquitous presence of cannabinoids in European wellness, medicinal and pharmaceutical markets. The issuance of a Free Certificate of Sale for CBD will help open up distribution channels and help ensure that European consumers and patients can legally benefit from a plant with proven safety and efficacy. It would be illogical for regulatory authorities to deny consumers natural therapies for medical conditions, send consumers to illegal pathways and kill an industry which could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Europe.”
Next moves should be observed closely.