Italian regulators have moved to classify CBD as a narcotic in Italy while simultaneously banning the compound from the Italian market.
In a decree issued by the Ministry of Health earlier this month, CBD was officially added to the country’s list of medicines, thus making products containing the compound subject to official authorisation by health authorities.
In accordance with the announcement, a separate order was issued by Italy’s Customs and Monopoly Agency, warning retailers “not to hold and sell . . . inflorescences (flowers), oils and resins or other products containing substances derived from hemp sativa.”
The decree, published in Italy’s Official Gazette, adds CBD to the country’s table of medicines as “compositions for oral administration of cannabidiol (CBD) obtained from cannabis extracts.”
The regulations bring additional confusion to the Italian Hemp and CBD markets and place further challenges for producers and retailers in the region.
“This decree specifies that CBD for oral use extracted from cannabis is in the drug table and can only be produced with the authorization of AIFA (the Italian Medicines Agency),” Giacomo Bulleri, a lawyer who analyses the Italian cannabis sector and serves as a board member at Federcanapa, an Italian hemp trade group, told the website Fanpage.it. “Therefore the oils on the market for undefined use are illegal,” Bulleri said.
Earlier in the year the Italian Ministry of Agriculture issued a separate decree that lists hemp flowers for ‘extraction uses’ as an agricultural product and therefore not a narcotic, which places the two branches of the government in dispute over the classification of hemp and CBD.
Italy’s regulatory CBD landscape appears to be following a similar trajectory to that of the wider European Commission, which earlier this year issued a “preliminary conclusion” that hemp extracts, including CBD, are to be considered narcotics.
HempToday reported in August that if the EC’s “preliminary decision” becomes permanent across the EU it will throw the sectors that use CBD, the leading hemp extract, into chaos. The EC has said the stoppage is a step in the process of providing EU member states clear guidance on hemp extracts, noting ominously that “the Commission’s preliminary view is that CBD extracted from the flowering and fruiting tops of the hemp plant should be considered as a narcotic under the United Nations Single Convention.”
Regulators are aware of the need to put in place clear legislation and guidance relating to the production of hemp, cannabis and its derivatives given the burgeoning consumer market for extracted products.
Industry stakeholders are pushing back against the classification of CBD as a narcotic citing that hemp and its downstream products are clearly and explicitly not subject to international drug controls under the United Nations treaties nor in the supplementary protocols of 1972, but there is clearly difficulties ahead for the industry if more countries take a stance similar to Italy’s.
The European Commission is due to meet and vote on a variety of directives pertaining to Hemp, Cannabis and CBD, in December. The outcomes of that process will be critical to the future of CBD in Europe.