• Login
(+27) 72 3777598


Written by: Anthony Rees (National Chairman: TNHA)

Europe’s CBD market is optimistic after a recent ruling from the EU’s highest court (European Court of Justice) not to classify the ingredient a narcotic – going against the European Commission’s shock preliminary view in July. This will pave the way for Novel Food applications for CBD products to re-start.

French law has until this ruling prohibited the sale of CBD extracted from the whole cannabis plant (meaning only CBD extracted from fibre and seeds was permitted). An e-cigarette company named KanaVape which extracts CBD from whole plants and exports to other EU member states took the European Commission to court, as the French law was inconstant with laws of the Czech Republic, which permits the use of CBD extracted from the whole plant. Recently the European Commission postponed Novel Food applications for CBD as it decided whether to class non-synthetic CBD as a narcotic (mind altering or dependence forming substance). This ground breaking ruling effectively settles this matter, and has decisively declared that CBD is not a narcotic, and may be extracted from whole plants.

This decision is crucial for the European CBD industry, as it is the first time the highest court in the 27 State block has given its interpretation on the nature of CBD, and thus how it should be regulated by Member States and should bring the much needed regulatory harmonization to the EU market, which had frustrated many businesses operating in this space for years.

Sarah Ellson, co-head of regulatory at law firm Fieldfisher released a statement stating, This ruling will breathe life into the Novel Foods authorizations process which has, in the EU, been thrown into turmoil by the European Commission’s preliminary view that CBD was a narcotic and so could not be used in foods; delaying and frustrating the novel food applications to the European Food Safety Authority (ESSA).”

Adela Williams, Partner at Arnold & Porter, ACI’s legal counsel had this to say about the ruling – “The European Court has confirmed that CBD should not be classified as a narcotic under the 1961 UN Convention on narcotics, removing an obstacle to the continued assessment of novel food applications relating to CBD products.”​


This is particularly good news for South African CBD marketers who are currently formally questioning aspects of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s June determination to allow CBD to be sold for open sale under a new regulatory framework.

More importantly this international precedent provides gravitas to the local CBD industry’s argument that CBD should be allowed to be sold as a food ingredient in South Africa legally, after our Food Control Directorate has expressly banned CBD as an ingredients in foodstuffs (edibles) and beverages (drinkables), despite safe daily intakes of 20mg or less being authorized by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) since May 2019. Our Food Control Directorate regularly harmonizes its regulations and authorizations with that of the ESSA so we are hoping they are taking note.

The TNHA believe now is the time for CBD stakeholders in South Africa to put pressure on the South African Food Control Directorate of the Department of Health to objectively reevaluate their outdated stance towards accepting CBD as an authorized food and beverage ingredient, and adopt an appropriate science based framework which guarantees public safety, honors the public’s right to choose CBD as part of their dietary intake, and allow a potentially world class, novel and tax deriving industry to flourish.


Read the full EU Court Judgement by clicking on the download link below.




Read the EU Court Summary by clicking on the download link below.



Share this page