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5 critical points for cannabis exporters to the EU

The European Union has flagged a tightening up of regulations on CBD marketing and sales following a flood of cannabis products into the union. 

The Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction released a report on CBD products in Europe on 21 December 2020 saying there are five glaring issues that it wants action on.


Theses issues are:

  1. Inconsistent and often poor product content
  2. Inadequate product labelling
  3. Over-hyping product efficacy or not being clear about limitations in therapeutic use
  4. Lack of safety information
  5. Concern over THC levels in CBD products


Concerns surrounding trace THC content in various cannabis-based products were also discussed, including the challenges of defining appropriate THC limits via national legislation.

The Centre said THC in medical marijuana was a problem.


It reported that there were challenges of defining appropriate THC levels via national legislation and that THC percentages can be measured and referred to at several levels, including:

  • The level of THC that a certain variety of cannabis plant will usually produce.
  • The levels of THC found in the different parts of the plant, which serves to distinguish what parts of the plant may be used for industrial purposes without extensive testing, or what might be of value to divert to illegally extracting THC.
  • The level of THC found in the extracts, which may be used to indicate whether an extract has
    intoxicating properties or not.
  • The level of THC found in the final consumable product, for example an edible product.


The agency noted that, while it is easier for a grower or processor to test a particular plant or extract and control the THC at the ingredient stage, the level of THC in the final product is “more relevant” to consumer safety.

“It is possible to grow low-THC hemp and from it produce a high-THC extract, highlighting the importance of considering the final product and not just the input material,” the agency wrote.

“In labeling products, policymakers will need to address not only safety limits but also the confusing message given to the consumer by using different measurements of THC and CBD content and whether the percentage of THC, maximum dose per day or ratio of THC to CBD should be used,” the agency wrote.

“It is important to acknowledge that this is a rapidly evolving area and one with relatively limited information currently available,” the authors wrote.

“The findings presented here will necessarily be incomplete, and they need to be viewed as an introduction to the situation and pertinent issues, as well as providing a platform for further research and monitoring.”

The authors acknowledged several regulatory developments in Europe since the research was launched in 2018. These included a landmark ruling in November from the EU’s top court on France’s CBD ban and the European Commission’s decision to backtrack from its decision to categorize CBD as a narcotic.

Perhaps most crucially for the CBD market, the Centre confirmed that the Court of Justice ruling on the Kanavape case – in which the five presiding judges said CBD was not a drug under the meaning of a global drug treaty – had implications for the interpretation of EU law connected to the production and marketing of low-THC cannabis products.

These implications, the drug agency said, “may be addressed in the near future.”

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