Why European Cannabis Events must be Cancelled Due To Coronavirus

Due to the wide spread of Coronavirus in Europe, most if not all of the big European cannabis events are going to be cancelled soon, but the organizers don’t even know it, yet.

In an announcement that shocked the entire nation, the Israeli ministry of health just issued a warning that citizens should not leave the country and avoid unnecessary travel for the time being. In addition it advised against participating in big business and religius condferences and recomended not to allow such events happening in Israel.

By taking this stand, the Israeli ministry of health voted for isolating Israel from the rest of the world to prevent, as much as possible, the fast spread of the Coronavirus. In addition it has added Italy to the list of coronavirus-infected countries that Israelis coming from it must remain 14 days in self-quarantee and that visitors from that country are not allowed to enter the country. I believe that many European countires will soon follow suit.

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Whether you trust the media or not, whether you’re worried about the severity of the virus itself or not, the bottom line is that coronavirus is affecting businesses, and the cannabis industry is not left untouched. As a result, we can predict that most, if not all of the big European cannabis business events are going to be cancelled within the following week or two, and that similar events in the US and Canada are going to dramatically limited and in the absence of international traveler, become local. This is why:

Why the European cannabis events must be cancelled

Cannabis industry events, by nature, include a lot of close interaction, which is something people are trying to avoid now. As Europe is becoming more and more infected by Coronavirus, many governments will follow the Israeli example and prevent such events from happening. In addition, countries will begin to send travelers from infected countries back to where they came from, or, place them in quarantee for a minimum of 14 days.

Another reason is that when it comes to cannabis events, especially business and medically oriented ones, Israel is a major presence in the industry. Israel has been a global leader in medical cannabis research since the 1960s and they small nation currently has a foothold in the European medicinal market. As a result, in the European medical cannabis events, the number of Israeli speakers, whether they are doctors and businessmen, is very high. Most of them will now choose to remain at home, to avoid placed in self-guarantee when returning to Israel. Their absence will be felt greatly at these events.

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A new wave of refugees coming from Syria

The grave news coming from Italy, South Korea and especially from Iran, where coronavirus is now completely out of control, must trigger an alarm to all of us. In addition, the predicted wave of refugees coming from Syria (some may be infected with coronavirus, thanks to Iran’s presence in Syria), will force the European governments to take the path of self-isolation and limit the number of international travelers coming in. It will happen within days. Any hesitation to do so, will result in a faster spread of the disease as we can witness happening now.

Overall, it’s expected that most, if not all of the international events, including cannabis events will either be canceled or severely limited in terms of attendance and networking opportunities. And yes, that includes the Olympics and the Euro2020 game. These two also have already been cancelled, the same with the famous Eurovision song contests. Someone need to tell it to the organizers, as they didn’t even realized it yet. They will do, within the next week or two.

What does this mean for the future of cannabis industry events? In the absence of big gatherings the local and the virtual ones will take their place. It won’t feel the same, but most chances that networking in the summer of 2020 will be done mostly online.

So, what does it means for you?

If you have planned to go to an international big event, recosider the risk and check for the cancellation policy. Now. If you must attend it, or need to fly anywhere, make sure to apoint someone to replace you since it might take you some time to return home. Generally speaking, as any human interaction comes with a price thesedays, you should think twice before going to any big event where you can return home with a big pile of businesscards and one small deadly virus…

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*** UPDATE: I have approched several of the main European cannabis events, both in Israel and in Europe, and they all promised me that for now, they are not planning to cancel any of the events. So I have two weeks to prove I am right, or else, I will owe a lot of people a big apology.

None the less, you should make your own mind and reconsider the risk of travelling these days. In my opinion, it’s not a risk worth taking…

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The Organic CBD Movement – Best for Consumers and Businesses

The organic movement is a broad term used to describe
individuals and organizations that aid in promoting organic farming and
products across the globe. Generally, this has been used in reference to food,
but it certainly applies to hemp and CBD as well.

As the CBD and hemp markets continue to expand and legitimize, consumers are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly skeptical. At the same time that increased awareness about dietary health continues to grow, reports of mislabeled CBD and hemp products with various contaminants keep popping up too.  

With millions of people around the world turning to CBD for natural
relief from numerous ailments, consumers are demanding that the products be
used have safe, natural ingredients and be ethically sourced, and rightfully
so.

This means that companies have to do more now to prove they’re trustworthy. One of the best ways to do this is by obtaining USDA organic certification.

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What
is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in both hemp and cannabis plants. In cannabis, it’s the second most dominant cannabinoid, next to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Regular cannabis buds with high levels of THC are typically what you can expect to find in dispensaries and recreational stores in the States. In hemp plants, CBD usually dominates, although some strains are high in CBG as well. Hemp is often used for industrial purposes like textiles, plastic, etc., although some strains grow smokable flowers.

Numerous studies showing the medical potential of CBD have been making the headlines in recent years. It’s been used to treat chronic pain, inflammationanxiety, depression, and many other ailments. There even exists an FDA-approved medication with CBD as the main (pretty much only) ingredient. The medicine is called Epidiolex and it’s used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy, Lennox–Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. Following the U.S., Epidiolex has been approved for use throughout Europe and is undergoing clinical evaluation in Japan.

The
reason CBD works for such a diverse range of conditions is because of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS is
a network of receptors that can be found throughout the bodies of all mammals,
and possibly birds. We naturally create cannabinoids – called endocannabinoids
-which – interact with these receptors to regulate different processes in our
bodies and maintain homeostasis by managing functions such as immunity,
appetite, sleep wake cycles, pain response, and so much more.

Researchers believe that the root cause of many illnesses is a deficiency in endocannabinoids. Some people’s bodies don’t produce enough cannabinoids for every part of their bodies to reach homeostasis and optimal health, and this is where supplementing with plant-based cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) proves beneficial.

To make products like oil, softgels, and anything else that can be used therapeutically, the CBD needs to first be extracted. It goes through numerous distillation and filtration processes, but that doesn’t change the fact that CBD sourced from good quality hemp is superior to that coming from poorly grown plants that riddled with pesticides and other toxins.

History of Organic Farming

Organic refers to plants that are grown naturally; so non-GMO, no synthetic pesticides or other toxic chemicals. The term “organic farming” was first recognized in 1940, although the organic movement roots can be traced back to the 1800s. The fear of toxins and desire to consume natural products is not a new phenomenon, although the intensity of the movement ebbs and flows throughout history.

Officially,
the movement started in the early 1900s, during the beginning of the industrial
agricultural period, in response to a widespread shift towards synthetic fertilizers
and pesticides. A small group of Australian farmers joined forces, formed
organizations and began the first organic certification program in the world –
The Organic Farming and Gardening Society. They were soon joined by the Rodale
Press in the United States, and the Soil Association in the United Kingdom,
among others.

By 1972, the movement had becoming a recognized global force known as the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM). Over this last decade, the demand for organic everything has exploded and that means farmers and businesses need to adjust to keep up with the market trends. This applies to any industry that utilizes plants, including the hemp and CBD industries.

Reasons to Get USDA Organic Certification

There
are so many reasons why getting USDA organic certification is well worth it, so
we’ll make it easy for you and focus on the top few

1. Quality

This should be first and foremost with any
product you’re trying to sell but especially those that will be have medicinal
uses. You want your product to be top notch, and organic products really are
superior because they’re safe and natural.

2. Appeal

So, your products are top notch, now you want
everyone to know it. The USDA organic seal will be visible for all to see,
which a big selling point for many consumers. Shoppers often associated organic
products with higher quality, but this generally only applies to those that bear
the seal. In total, the sale of USDA organic-certified products is upwards of
$50 billion a year.

3. Stand Out

The CBD market is oversaturated with
products, especially when it comes to oils/tinctures. If you really want to distinguish
your products from the competition, the best way to do this is by securing USDA
organic certification.

4. The FDA

The FDA is often a challenger when it comes
to progression in the CBD industry. The USDA organic certification program is
the only federal agency to regularly validate CBD products and show consumer
that some brands really are on the level.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a way to not only legitimize your
business, but also offer your customers a truly superior experience, then consider
getting your USDA organic certification for your products. It takes a bit of
work, but you can learn more about the process here: https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/10/10/organic-101-five-steps-organic-certification.

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Surprise U-Turn Sees U.K. Regulators Question Safety Of CBD

BRITISH authorities have expressed concerns over the safety of CBD in moves which could harm the booming industry.

Click here for an update on this topic.

These emerged in a report in The Times newspaper which highlighted Food Standards Agency (FSA) safety concerns over cannabidiol (CBD) – which is popular with millions of Brits.

It refers to a Toxicity Report for the FSA which highlights potential CBD ‘side-effects ranging from diarrhoea and drooling to damage to the immune and reproductive systems’.

The FSA has told CBD Testers that following a meeting at the end of  January, which considered the toxicity study, it is now reviewing its ‘consumer advice on the consumption of CBD extracts’.

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‘No Significant Safety Concerns’

This comes just two weeks after the FSA said the ‘information available on CBD does not suggest any significant safety concerns‘. The Toxicity Report in question was first published in July, last year, and the FSA has yet to elaborate on why it has now changed its opinion on CBD safety (we are expecting a response in the next few days).

And, in a second blow for the U.K. industry the FSA has stated publicly, for the first-time since Brexit, that it plans to adopt the controversial European Novel Food guidelines into U.K. law.

These latest developments have raised concerns that the FSA lacks a clear understanding of the nature of CBD. Peter Reynolds, founder of U.K. CBD trade group CannaPro, said:  “The FSA doesn’t know what it’s talking about and it is going to land them in trouble. 

‘Will End Up In The Courts’

“They cannot understand it, for some reason, but what they are doing is legally flawed and this will end up in the courts. If a CannaPro member has its CBD stock removed by Trading Standards then they will be told that the stock they have taken off the shelves is not the one that the FSA is referring to, and that they will be liable for the costs and damages they have caused the business.”

During several meetings with the FSA, CannaPro and fellow industry trade group the Cannabis Trade Association (CTA) have made efforts to draw a distinction between ‘whole cannabis plant extracts’ – which contain CBD – and what the FSA refers to, as ‘CBD extracts’.

The FSA restated its position to CBD Testers this week, saying: CBD is a chemical found naturally within the cannabis plant, it has only very recently been removed and sold as a separate CBD extract.” 

These comments exhibit a ‘fundamental misunderstanding’ of the nature of CBD products, said Mr Reynolds.

‘Whole Plant Extracts’

While the FSA refers to ‘CBD extracts’ the producers and sellers represented by the CTA and CannaPro agree to sell only ‘whole plant extracts’. Mr Reynolds continued: “We don’t sell CBD extracts. What we do sell is something that has been taken from the cannabis plant for hundreds of years.”

Get EU GMP-Certified Cannabinoid Isolates and Distillates

Natural whole plant extracts have been around for a century or more and recovered by a variety of methods such as the use of a liquid solvent. The trade bodies accept that ‘selective extracts’ or ‘isolates’ that have been modified to differ from the original substance to say, reduce THC content, are a Novel Food.

Mr Reynolds continued: “CannaPro and others in the industry accept that  CBD isolate and CBD extract are a Novel Food, as quite clearly, before 1998 people weren’t isolating CBD. CannaPro accepts isolate is a Novel Food and we won’t verify it.” 

‘We Are Reviewing Our Consumer Advice’

CBD Testers asked the FSA for a statement relation to The Times story and we received the following: “We have commissioned the Government’s independent advisory Committee on Toxicity (CoT) to review research on CBD extracts regularly. 

“In July last year it remarked on the lack of available data. It met again at the end of January to consider this issue again. As a result we are reviewing our consumer advice on the consumption of CBD extracts and the action we expect the industry to take and will make this information available imminently.

On the Novel Food issue It went on to say: “This (Novel Food) legislation is being transferred into U.K. law and we will continue to use the high standards of consumer protection it provides. We’ve got no plans to change this legislation.”

It also provided CBD Testers with the following comment from Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency: “The FSA will shortly outline the action it will take given the CBD industry’s lack of progress with the authorisation process.

“We are advising consumers to think carefully before taking CBD sold as food or supplements until we know more about their safety and composition. It’s now up to industry and business to do the right thing so everyone can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is. If any evidence is found to suggest these products can cause harm, they will be removed from shelves.”

FSA And ‘CBD Extracts’

And in some additional ‘Background Notes’ provided to CBD Testers it broached the issue of CBD extracts and Novel Food.

CBD is a chemical found naturally within the cannabis plant, it has only very recently been removed and sold as a separate CBD extract. CBD extracts can be found in a range of products such as oils, confectionary, bakery products and drinks.  

“CBD was confirmed as a novel food product in January 2019. Under the novel food regulations, foods or food ingredients which do not have a history of consumption before May 1997 should be evaluated and authorised before they can be placed on the market.

“The FSA is responsible for regulating CBD as a novel food. This does not include cosmetics, vapes, products making medicinal claims or products containing illegal substances such as THC.    

“The FSA is the Central Competent Authority (CCA) for food safety, however local authorities are responsible for the day to day enforcement of food law. The FSA will issue guidance to them, but they are authorised make specific enforcement decisions based on the facts of individual cases and circumstances.”

Cannabidiol (CBD) is added to foods, oils and lotions. Users say that the compound, which does not get people high, reduces anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain. 

Novel Food Brick Wall?

The designation of CBD as a Novel Food early last year has been widely condemned by the CBD industry. Novel Food regulations introduced in 1998 are designed to ensure that all food supplements sold in the E.U. have undergone stringent safety tests.

But, as thing currently stand, not one CBD product on sale in the E.U. has successfully navigated this process. A Novel Food designation is used for guidance by national CCAs who must make their own decisions on whether to enforce its obligations.

Not What The Industry Wants To Hear

This new development follows a heated spat between the FSA and the CTA reported in CBD Testers, last month.

The FSA’s new position aligns it more with the Food and Drug Administration in the United States which says it has concerns over the ‘real risks’ posed by CBD consumption, with it also putting the industry on notice of imminent action.

The U.K. CBD industry continues to grow rapidly with millions of people said to be using it, and a market value in the hundreds of millions of pounds.

While the industry has been living in this Novel Food limbo for the last year it looks like it will be getting some clarity on how it can proceed over the coming weeks – but whether that will be what most of the industry wants to hear is looking increasingly unlikely, at this stage.

@CBD Testers will be keeping abreast of this issue and will shortly be publishing a summary of the Committee on Toxicity Report which has prompted the FSA’s concerns over CBD safety.

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U.K. CBD Shake-Up Gateway To Influx Of Global Consumer Brands

THE Food Standards Agency’s new Novel Food deadline looks set to open the door for the entry of the major global consumer brands into the U.K CBD market.

Concerns over the lack of a clear regulatory CBD framework from the FSA and other agencies has previously proved a deterrent to the Coca-Colas of this world.

Not anymore, a clear pathway to compliance will unleash the forces of  multi-national business and change the craft nature of the existing U.K. industry for good.

And, new health concerns over usage whilst taking other drugs, breast-feeding and during pregnancy will also require CBD sellers to double down on any advice they give consumers.

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What Has Happened? 

Following a year of procrastination the FSA has announced that all CBD products will have to be registered into the Novel Food process.

Novel Food authorisation is a costly and time consuming process –  priced at around £300,000, and taking around two years to complete.

All products on sale in the U.K will have to demonstrate they align with the requirements of this process by March 31, next year.

In theory, it should mean that all these products would then have to be removed from sale while the authorisation process, including various safety tests, take place.

But, the way things are shaping up, it is highly likely that there will be no enforcement action on applicants while this approval process is underway.

A Bit Of Background?

This FSA move follows the rapid growth of the of the U.K. CBD industry; it is said to be worth over £300 million and used by millions of people for its perceived health benefits.

However, as the industry has grown the regulator’s concerns over its nature have also increased.

Recent research showed that some products on sale in the U.K. had illegal levels of the psychoactive cannabis compound THC, while others actually continued no CBD, and there are further issues over potential contaminants.

In January, last year the European Union (E.U.) announced that all CBD products must conform to the Novel Food rules.

This has been fought tooth and nail by many in the industry, and with Brexit out of the way there was some hope that the Novel Food guidelines would be scrapped for a less onerous, U.K.-specific regime.

Why Has the FSA Moved Now? 

For the last year the industry has been on a warning that it is expected to conform to the Novel Food rule.

But, at the same time the FSA has also said it does not have ‘significant safety concerns over the CBD products for sale in the U.K market’ – hence no enforcement action. 

In July last year the FSA’s advisory body met to discuss CBD; known as the Committee on Toxicity (CoT) it said at the time it was unable to give any definitive guidance due to a lack of suitable evidence.

It met again in January this year after securing large quantities of research data from British firm GW Pharmaceuticals.

GW is the only company to have secured a licence from health regulators for a CBD drug; Epidiolex, which is available to patients in the U.K. and USA.

After analysing this data the CoT changed its health guidance on CBD, this, and the need to establish a clear regulatory framework prompted this move.

Industry Reaction?

Overall the industry has welcomed the FSA’s moves to establish a clear regulatory framework.

It’s fair to say that as the industry grew over the last few years a number of companies took advantage of the lax regulatory environment to prey on naive consumers.

Nevertheless, there is still some ground to cover before the FSA secures its full-backing.

The main sticking point for those such as the Cannabis Trades Association and the European Industrial Hemp Association, is their firm belief that CBD is just basically, not a Novel Food.

There is ample evidence to show it has been used for hundreds of years in food across Europe and there is a certain amount of disbelief in the industry that the FSA cannot recognise this.

What Happens Next?

The current market sees a dozen or so, mainly overseas, suppliers produce CBD for thousands of products and these will now have to secure Novel Food authorisation for their oils.

Whether they will all have deep enough pockets to all complete the £300,000 Novel Food process is an open question.

Industry bodies such as the European Industrial Help Association are galvanising smaller players into a consortium to take forward joint Novel Food applications and share the cost burdens.  

One thing looks certain, though –  smaller craft manufacturers – producing their own oils and products look like being squeezed out of the market.

One such business we spoke to, based in the North of England, said it was still assessing the situation and would be seeking further information from the various trade bodies before deciding how to proceed. 

However, there may be an alternative route for the smaller operators; one which is currently being explored by some industry figures.

This could involve renaming CBD products as ‘hemp extracts containing CBD’, and in doing so circumvent the Novel Food process.

This is based on the premises that extracts squeezed from the hemp plant are not novel – for a full explanation see the comments in this article from leading cannabis lawyer Robert Jappie.

What Is The FSA Saying On CBD & Health?

The FSA still has no concerns over the general safety of CBD products but has now flagged up some real ares of concern in relation to health.

Its press release says: “The FSA is today advising those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking any medication not to consume CBD products. 

“Healthy adults are also advised to think carefully before taking CBD, and the FSA recommends no more than 70mg a day (about 28 drops of 5% CBD) unless under medical direction. This new precautionary advice is based on recent findings by the government’s Committee on Toxicity (COT).

Its press release referenced Professor Alan Boobis, Chair of the Committee on Toxicity: “My committee has reviewed the evidence on CBD food products and found evidence there are potential adverse health effects from the consumption of these products. We are particularly concerned about pregnant or breast-feeding women and people on medication.

“We don’t know enough to be sure about such a risk but I am pleased with the sensible and pragmatic approach the FSA is taking. The committee will continue to keep these products under review in the months ahead.”

Final Thought 

In a presentation at last year’s CBD and Hemp & CBD Expo in Birmingham, cannabis executive Garrett Bain elaborated on the industry’s future.

“The pathway for the CBD industry into the big box retail outlets, in the U.K. with the likes of Tesco and Boots, in the U.S. with Walmart and the others, will be regulation.

“At the moment we are a boutique, and online retail industry, coming from a place of little regulation, but as we grow we will start to see a change taking place. 

“It will start with start with compliance, the delivery of consistent product and establishing a chain of custody – whereby regulators can easily identify where a product has come come from. Any lack of trust across the value chain, will trouble the consumer and trouble the regulators.”

This FSA move is seeing the CBD industry evolve from its pupae phase, but in which direction it develops and spreads its wings remains to be seen.

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Hemp Market Growth Predictions: $26.6 Billion By 2025

Hemp is everywhere and according to various market studies, the entire industry is expected to be worth nearly $27 billion by 2025.

There’s almost nothing that hemp can’t do. It can be used as a food supplement, medication, topical, it can be manufactured into plastic, concrete, and batteries. It’s hardy, grows easily, and is incredibly versatile, and that’s precisely why everyone is scrambling to cash in.

Defining Hemp

Hemp is a phenotype of the Cannabis
sativa plant species. It differs from cannabis/marijuana because hemp
is legally categorized as having less than 0.3 percent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol),
which is the most dominant compound in regular cannabis, and the one
responsible for the psychoactive effects.

Generally speaking, most hemp has
around anywhere from 0.2 to 1 percent THC content, which deviates slightly from
the legal cutoff. Hemp strains that produce flowers with
higher levels of CBD
(cannabidiol)
 will typically have higher levels of THC as well,
closer to the 1 percent mark.

In
addition to having tremendous therapeutic value, hemp also has many industrial
and environmental uses, often with quite a bit of overlap. For example, hemp
can be manufactured into make an earth-friendly plastic
alternative
. This constitutes both industrial and environmental use.

Hemp can also be formed into a concrete-like substance that some people are already utilizing in the construction of their eco-friendly houses and other structures. It can be used as a battery/energy-storage solution that’s reported more powerful than graphene, it can eliminate reliance on certain fossil fuels, and it can be used to make various textiles like rope and clothing.

Another interesting and cutting-edge use for hemp is to remove pollution from the earth in a process known as phytoremediation. In other words, hemp can be used to clean up soil, air and water from pollution, heavy metals, radiation, agricultural products, and more .

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Hemp Market Predictions

According to the new market research report published by Markets and Markets, the hemp industry is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of around 34%. The report, titled “Industrial Hemp Market by Type (Hemp Seed , Hemp Seed oil, Hemp Fiber, and CBD Hemp Oil), Application (Food, Beverages, Personal Care Products, Textiles, and Pharmaceuticals), Source (Organic and Conventional), and Region – Global Forecast to 2025″, predicts the hemp market will reach USD $26.6 billion by 2025.

There are few key factors that are driving the dramatic growth of this industry. According to the report, “legalization in the cultivation of industrial hemp, functional properties of hemp seed and hemp seed oil, and their growing use in different food applications, and increase number of chronic diseases,” are among the driving forces.

Regulators Go After Smokable Hemp Flower – What Does The Future Hold?

And speaking of regulations, Rep.
Collin Peterson (D.-Minn.) recently introduced a bill that
would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, requiring that CBD be
added to the list of legal dietary supplements and thus, exclude it from
prohibited foods and products.

This
bill would effectively bypass any FDA interference and make CBD federally legal
by default. This is obviously great for the supplement and food sector, and it’s
likely to benefit cultivation as well. If CBD products become legal across the
board and demand increases, there were naturally be a need for more hemp
plants.

What About Smokable Hemp Flowers?

One of the fastest-growing sectors of
the hemp industry is smokable hemp flowers. That said, we still don’t know
exactly what to expect over the next few years. There is certainly a growing demand
in the U.S., and hemp flowers have long been popular in Europe where cannabis-users
tend to prefer low-THC buds.

According to research from Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research firm based in Chicago, the smokable hemp flower market was somewhere in the ballpark of $71 million at the end of the 2019. This is a 500% increase from 2018, when the marked totaled $11.7 million. They didn’t provide any information about projected numbers.

Brightfield analyst Bethany Gomez says they discovered this growing trend by calling retailers, including smoke shops, spas and natural-food stores, to find out what they were selling.

Medical benefits of hemp

This is quite an open-ended topic and varies based on the specific cannabinoid we’re looking at. For now, let’s take a look at the most common ones that you’ll find in hemp: CBD (cannabidiol), CBN (cannabinol), and CBG (cannabigerol).

CBD- If you search online, you’ll find there is a claim for
CBD helping with nearly every medical condition under the sun. Although a lot of
these notions can be attributed to misinformation and placebo effects, there
are a few well studied illnesses that CBD can treat. Most commonly, it’s used
for anxiety and depression, chronic pain, inflammation, and epilepsy.

When it comes to epilepsy, there is even an FDA-approved medication called Epidiolex used to treat two rare forms of epilepsy: Dravet syndrome and Lennox-gestaut syndrome. This medication was just recently approved for use in Europe and is current undergoing clinical trials in Japan.

CBN- CBN is a phytocannabinoid that becomes prevalent as the cannabis plant ages. It actually originates from THC, so as your flowers are exposed to the elements (oxygen and heat), THC molecules begin converting into CBN. This is a lesser known compound, but some studies indicate that it can be used to treat glaucoma, bacterial infections, and neurodegenerative disorders.

CBG- CBG is quickly gaining popularity in the hemp industry because, due to the way cannabinoids develop, strains that are high in CBG are naturally low in THC, making the federally compliant. Preliminary studies indicate that CBG has numerous health benefits as well including the treatment of depression and cancer.

Final Thoughts

From the looks of it, hemp is here to stay and this tremendous market growth doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. There are numerous ways to make good money in this industry, from starting your own business to investing from the outskirts. It’s not just a “trend” or “fad”, it’s an incredible plant that can be used to make our lives easier, and furthermore, it’s a product that will likely never not be valuable and in-demand.

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Ban On Natural CBD In European Cosmetics Lifted In Victory For ‘Common Sense’

The lifting of a ban on the use of CBD in creams and cosmetics will be a major boost for smaller European businesses.

In early 2019 the European Commission (E.C.) introduced new non-legally binding provisions which outlawed the use of natural CBD in cosmetics in favour of synthetic CBD. However, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)  has successfully overturned the decision following an intensive lobbying campaign, led by its Managing Director Lorenza Romanese.

Ms Romanese told CBD Testers: “The initial change only suited a few cosmetic companies as synthetics are extremely expensive. The process  involved also produces a lot of chemical waste, which needs to be recycled at a later stage. But, the European Commission have changed the catalog and we can now use leaves in cream and other cosmetics.  This is a massive boost for the wider European industry and the smaller hemp and CBD business we represent.” 

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Legal Confusion

The E.C.s decision to outlaw natural CBD is rooted in the confusing legal position of cannabis and hemp, not just in Europe, but across the whole world. European cosmetic regulators chose to create a new classification for CBD, based on a strict interpretation of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (SCND).

The Cosing database – the Inventory of Cosmetic Ingredients – was thus updated to outlaw CBD ‘derived from extract or tincture or resin of cannabis’ whilst it surprisingly approved ‘synthetically-produced CBD’. However, the EIHA pointed out that industrial hemp is clearly excluded from the SCND’s banned ingredients list, which, also does not include ‘cannabis seeds or leaves without fruiting tops’.

And, it highlighted how CBD, derived from these parts of the cannabis plant, is not outlawed in Europe. Ms Romanese said: “The decision last April was based on the view CBD was a narcotic, but we proved to them that industrial hemp is excluded from the SCND as it is not a drug, and does not have psychotropic effects.” CBD Testers is waiting for a comment from the E.C.

Booming Market

Julie Mackay, founder of U.K. cosmeceutical boutique and skincare brand Kaneh, has welcomed the change. She told CBD Testers: “Kaneh has been wanting to export to our European neighbours, particularly Germany and France, who are key natural skincare and cosmetics markets, so, we are delighted the ban on natural CBD extracts has been lifted.” 

Studies have shown CBD’s potential as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-sebum agent, capable of nourishing, calming and rejuvenating skin, as well as addressing signs of ageing. This comes as the global demand for CBD Skincare and beauty products is growing rapidly.

The US CBD market will reach $22 Billion by 2022

A new report from Prohibition Partners ‘Disrupting Beauty’ says CBD products could account for 10% of global skin-care sales, and values the global CBD skincare market at nearly $1 billion, within five years.

It says: “CBD beauty is an emerging category, with brands across the beauty spectrum weighing up the possibilities of launching products within their existing portfolios or of going all out with a CBD-inspired product range.” 

With many mainstream brands still shunning the sector it leaves the door open for the smaller independents, it adds.

North America Leading The Way

The passing of the 2018 Farm Bill and the boom in CBD that resulted from this has seen the sprouting of a large number of independent U.S. cosmetic brands. These are already catching the eye of acquisitive larger players and there has been some takeover activity in the sector.

One of the first such deals was of that of Colorado-based Mary’s Brands, which was acquired for an undisclosed sum by BR Brands of Connecticut, late last year. 

Lynn Honderd, CEO of Mary’s Medicinals brands, said that as well as home-grown Colorado hemp its products contain high quality ingredients such as the mineral-rich Dead Sea mud and salt. After the deal closed, Ms Honderd stepped down as CEO but remains an adviser. Young Canadian entrepreneur Brandi Leifso, is CEO of Evio Beauty, her company secured an investment from cannabis giant Aurora in 2018.

The agreement, which took place before last year’s stock market rout and the departure of Aurora’s CEO Terry Booth in January, this year, marked a diversification into consumer-facing brands from its traditional medical cannabis range.

Brandi, who launched her first beauty range when she was living in a Vancouver homeless hostel at the age of 21, told CBD Testers: “Aurora is one of the biggest licensed producers of cannabis in the world and cannabis is a strong, and equal market for beauty companies; especially in Canada. 

“We recognized that cannabis, and hemp, could help us in achieving our goal of a more conscious future by reducing the use of plastic, and being kinder to the environment and animals. We are completely cruelty-free. We’re looking forward to conducting more research on the extensive benefits and use of hemp and CBD in skincare and make-up.”

CBD And Skin Conditions 

CBD is great for treating skin conditions like eczema and acne

One of the main cosmetics CBD markets may well be in anti-acne products. There has been some research into this in which a Hungarian academic found that it may be more effective than Accutane as a treatment for acne. 

Accutane, also known as isotretinoin, is a medication primarily used to treat severe acne – but can prevent certain skin cancers. It has been found to cause birth defects in a developing foetus if a woman takes it during pregnancy. 

In 2009 Tamas Biro from the Department of Physiology, at the University of Debrecen University Hungary, highlighted the potential for CBD as an anti-acne agent. His research reported that CBD may be able to regulate lipid production which, when out of balance, can lead to acne and dry skin.

This also highlights the potential for CBD in relieving dry skin with research suggesting CBD may alleviate symptoms like dryness, itchiness, burning, and help people with psoriasis and dermatitis. Meanwhile research has been undertaken into the effectiveness of CBD in alleviating inflammation by regulating cytokine production. 

Cytokines are a group of proteins that interact with the immune system and regulate inflammation.  Increase inflammation can cause pain and regulating cytokines with CBD may alleviate both inflamed and painful skin.

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The Thorny Issue Of U.K. CBD Regulation In A Post-Brexit World

With Brexit done, U.K. authorities are being urged to establish a clear set of workable rules for the fast-growing CBD industry.

There will certainly be changes to the CBD industry as a result of Brexit. CBD is a global phenomenon worth £300m in the U.K. where it already surpasses the Vitamin C and Vitamin D supplement markets, combined. There are a number of options available with U.K cannabis experts calling for a new ‘light-touch’ industry-wide framework alongside a robust, and independent testing regime.

But one thing most agree on is this – a termination of the status quo.

‘CBD Is Not A Novel Food’

This is the controversial European Commission’s (E.C.) Novel Food ruling of 2019, which is proving a thorn in the side for all 27 remaining European members. The E.C. adoption of CBD as Novel Food in 2019 left the industry both angry and perplexed.

For, after accepting 20 years ago that hemp extracts, including CBD, were not Novel, the E.C. had changed its mind. Even the most fair-minded of individuals err towards cynicism on this particular issue, sensing the panic of ‘big pharma’ at the approach of the CBD wellness avalanche.

In the U.K., its regulator the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has steadfastly stuck to the E.C. pathway which says all CBD products should undergo a costly and time-consuming approval process.

While not legally binding the Novel Food Catalogue is used as a reference by national authorities and consequently a number of companies, in the U.K. and Europe, have faced enforcement action.

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Brexit Blues 

The FSA’s position has been understandable, to a certain degree, as Brexit has created an all-consuming policy black hole, preventing any light being shed on a whole host of pressing national issues, which of course, includes CBD.

Leading U.K. cannabis lawyer Robert Jappie, who joins international Law Firm Ince this month, says that with Brexit out of the way focus can shift shed elsewhere.

“There has been so little guidance on CBD from the FSA because of Brexit. That is all the government been involved with and explains why we have had so little information from the FSA on this issue.”

On CBD, he believes things will change: “The optic of a U.K. regulatory body saying they are going to enforce non-binding E.U. regulation, in the current political climate, wouldn’t be a good look.” 

CBD Products with ‘No CBD’

In 2016, when CBD first made inroads in to the U.K market the newly formed Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) reached an agreement with health regulators that CBD should be sold as a food supplement and sellers were not able to make any medical claims.

This saw regulatory responsibility pass to the FSA which last month acknowledged, in a response to CBD Testers, that CBD is essentially ‘safe’. However, there is still a whole load of concern over the validity of CBD products on the market, with research suggesting some may not even contain CBD.

CBD products are under fire over concerns of legitimacy

At a recent trade show the CTA Chairman Mike Harlington called out the operators who were damaging the sector by making medical claims. Organisations such as the CTA, which has over 1,000 member businesses, have developed their own self-regulatory regimes.

A second trade body is CannaPro, its founder Peter Reynolds has been an active cannabis advocate for longer than he cares to remember. He says the attempt to classify CBD as a novel food is a ‘scam’ and highlights how the FSA now views CBD as safe.

He told CBD Testers: “We need to find a better method of regulation and a consistent method of testing to allow for comparisons between products.” 

Speedy Resolution

“Certainly, an independent testing body would-be helpful in this respect. I’m no fan of ‘big Government’ but this is what we have them for, to help supervise and monitor industries.”  

The Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, through its affiliate the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, encourages its members to pursue a Novel Food Authorisation – this can cost over £300,000 and take more than two years.

Steve Moore, its Strategic Counsel & Director, said: “There should be be no compromise on food safety. So all products on the market must be subject to rigorous food safety assessments, along the lines of existing Novel Foods authorisation. 

“However, post-Brexit, it may be the case that a U.K. assessment could be a lot quicker process than the current one implemented by the European Commission.” 

Mr Jappie highlighted the pressing need for a speedy resolution.

“People are buying these products for a medical purpose, but they are sold as food supplement and there is very little regulation. At this stage it doesn’t not look like the FSA will be ordering CBD product to be taken off the shelves, so there needs to be some consensus between regulators and the industry to ensure people are being sold quality products.”

Hemp And CBD

However, there is a widespread view among CBD advocates that, after many meetings with the FSA, its single-minded Novel Food adherence demonstrates a fundamental mis-understanding.

EU Novel Food and The Legal Status of CBD Oil

In 1998, foods or additives not widely used in Europe, priorly, were classed a Novel Foods and those wanting to sell them in the E.C. needed approval, primarily for consumer safety reasons.

Initially, the E.C. said ‘most’ extracts of the Cannabis Sativa plant were not Novel, but added CBD to its definition in 2019, and said ‘only seeds products and seed oil’ are not Novel. And continued: ‘Food products made from leaves, flowers and all extracts containing cannabinoids are now considered as Novel Foods’.

Mr Jappie said: “The FSA have a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue. They say ‘hemp is not novel, but CBD extracts are novel’, but they don’t define what a CBD extract is. If hemp is not novel and I squeeze the juice out of a hemp plant, with its naturally occurring levels of CBD, then surely that extract cannot be novel either? “

‘CBD Is Novel’ Say FSA

When CBD Testers asked the FSA why it aligns with the E.U. a spokesperson said: “Hemp seed oil has a significant history of consumption before 15 May 1997, and CBD extracts do not.”

And they referred us to the EC guidance which can be found here; https://ec.europa.eu/food/sites/food/files/safety/docs/novel-food_guidance_human-consumption_en.pdf

With Brexit now crystallising Mr Jappie believes the industry and the FSA should work together on a mutually-acceptable solution.

“The problem we have with CBD is that there is not a set of industry standards – and no reference point to say what is a compliant product. There is no requirement on companies to be registered with the U.K. trade organisations or abide by their standards, so it is a bit of a free for all.

“The FSA should engage with the industry and both agree to guidelines on quality, on dosage procedures, on CBD content and that kind of thing, and have everybody agree to abide by those regulations. We should be looking for a light-touch regulatory framework which ensures only quality products are sold, and consumers are protected.”

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Will It Be A Brexit Boom Or Bust For U.K. Cannabis?

A Boris Johnson Brexit looks set to free the U.K. from the regulatory orbit of the European Union (E.U.) and usher in an exciting new era for cannabis.

The freedom to overturn the restrictive E.U classification of CBD as a ‘Novel Food’ is the key potential Brexit win for many. This, and the removal of punitive restrictions on cultivation, could prompt a U.K. cannabis investment boom.

However, some U.K.-based cannabis brands with an international focus fear Brexit could lead to more ‘Red Tape’ – and increased costs.

Novel Food Deters Investment

The Novel Food issue has shrouded the European CBD industry in a cloying cloak of uncertainty for the last year; Brexit could provide an opportunity for Britain to escape its shadow. 

Leading U.K. cannabis lawyer Robert Jappie, who will be joining international Law Firm Ince next month, has first-hand experience of the stasis it has caused. In an interview with CBD Testers he said: “We really need a resolution to the Novel Food issue this year. I am aware of many significant investors who are holding back from the sector because of it.

“They say they want to get involved and then they come back and say ‘we have heard about novel food, and we’ll just wait’. The bigger companies, the likes of Coca Cola and Nestlé, are happy to wait until the regulations are clear before making a move – it’s an issue that needs resolved.”

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‘Not A Good Look’

Mr Jappie believes the U.K will choose to diverge from the existing Novel Food guidelines saying: “The optic of a U.K. regulatory body (Food Standards Agency) saying they are going to enforce non-binding E.U. regulation, in the current political climate, wouldn’t be a good look.” 

He also highlights how a U.K. divergence from the E.U. rules will help deliver the sort of Brexit its supporters crave.

“I think Novel Food is a very easy win for the U.K. government. If the point of Brexit is actually to diverge from E.U. rules they could take the position of ignoring it, and show their backing for the U.K. CBD industry. The clear benefit of the leaving the E.U. for Brexit supporters, is that we are able to diverge from E.U. rules” (which includes cannabis laws of course)

Brexit Not BRINO

Under the previous Prime Minister Theresa May the U.K. set out on a BRINO  (Brexit in Name Only) path which posited close regulatory alignment. Mr Johnson, on the other hand, is said to be looking for a basic free trade deal with the E.U.

In such deals the generally accepted view is that if regulatory alignment is not achieved, ‘mutual recognition’ of each others standards is a suitable substitute. However Brussels’ negotiators appear to baulk at this. 

While neighbours U.S. and Canada trade on mutual recognition terms negotiators in Brussels see the proximity of Britain as ‘too great a competitive risk’.

Some Will Choose To Align With E.U.

Mr Jappie elaborated: “It’s a complex issue. I personally think the E.U. will take a very tough stance and not allow the U.K. to abide by whatever rules it chooses.

“Will the E.U. allow for mutual recognition? Well, here, it looks like it could be trade-off for access to continental markets. The problem for the U.K. is that a lack of mutual recognition will make it more difficult for CBD companies to sell product to the E.U.”

If a mutual recognition agreement is not forthcoming then U.K.-based international cannabis brands, trading in Europe, may need to incur additional costs to align with Novel Food.

An Update On British CBD and the Novel Food Regulations in EU

Food Standards Agency

If Novel Food is dropped there will need to be a change of mindset at the FSA. It has maintained a consistent stance in the last year, and re-stated it earlier this month.

In a statement to CBD Testers it said: “CBD extracts are considered novel foods under food law and we expect companies to comply with the novel foods process, which includes submitting safety information about their products. 

“The FSA is considering the best way to ensure CBD food-related products currently on the market move towards compliance.”

In relation to Brexit a spokesperson said the regulatory landscape for CBD is ‘subject to negotiations on the E.U. and U.K.’s future relationship, which will take place throughout this year’.

U.K. Trade Associations

Peter Reynolds has been campaigning for cannabis liberalisation since the 1970s. He is co-founder and President of cannabis law reform group CLEAR and industry trade group and self-regulatory body CannaPro.

He is urging all U.K. cannabis businesses to lobby their MPs in a bid to sink the controversial Novel Food regulations before they cause further damage.

“Our new trading relationship means we no longer have to follow E.U. rules and the Food Standard Agency can no longer hide behind the European Union. They will now have to explain for themselves and justify for themselves why they are following the European rules on Novel Food,” he said.

Fellow U.K. industry group the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) has also ratcheted up the pressure on the FSA, as the nation leaves the E.U. In a recent press release Chairman Mike Harlington said it is launching a ‘systematic campaign of political and media engagement to keep the pressure on the FSA not to attempt to enforce any move against the CBD industry, based on the Novel Foods issue’. 

He went on to say any such enforcement could ‘hit millions of consumers who regularly use CBD products’.

U.K. Growing Rules ‘Perverse’

Cannabis cultivators feel hopeful about Brexit changes

Meanwhile, domestic cannabis cultivators are also hoping that Brexit will lead to the removal of growing restrictions. As things stand U.K. farmers are bound by E.U. rules which limit seed types to those with less than 0.2% THC.

There are Europe-wide moves to increase this to 0.3% and there is no reason why the U.K. could not push for the same 1% level as Switzerland – a fellow Non-E.U. country. Lobbying on this will accompany efforts to remove rules enforcing the destruction of both flowers and leaves – the most valuable parts of the plant.

Removing such restrictions would support home-grown medical cannabis and CBD cultivators and spur the growth of the nation’s hamstrung industrial hemp industry.

Mr Jappie said: “If we had designated government department in say DEFRA   (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) dealing with cultivation, we could set out own standards and become a market leader.”

This view is backed by one of Boris Johnson’s Policy advisers Blair Gibbs, who spoke to CBD Testers last year when he was previously with the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis.

During the interview he described the U.K.’s licensing position as ‘perverse’ and ‘unsustainable’. Mr Gibbs also told CBD Testers that the Novel Food regime is ‘not workable for the U.K. CBD market’.

A Final Thought: Brexit and Cannabis Decriminalisation in U.K?

Mr Gibbs joined the No. 10 team in the run up to last December’s General Election, at the same time as fellow cannabis supporter Danny Kruger. Mr Kruger is now the Prime Minister’s Political Secretary, and he has also called for an end to cannabis prohibition.

With these two whispering in the P.M.’s ear and a growing cross-party alliance of MP’s calling for the decriminalisation of cannabis the mood music in the U.K. has shifted significantly in the last 18 months.

CBD and medical cannabis are now mainstream and many commentators believe we could see major changes over the course of this five-year  Parliament.

*Britain’s exist from the EU will be complete at 11pm on January 31, 2020. It is currently in a transitional period during which existing arrangements apply, and future trading arrangements will be agreed. If agreement cannot be reached then the U.K. and the E.U. will trade on WTO terms.

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Only A ‘Dozen’ Domestic Canadian LP Facilities Have Secured EU-GMP Compliance

The European medical cannabis market is a tough nut to crack for Canadian cannabis firms who face a more stringent regulatory regime than at home.

Aphria’s shares rose by more than 10% after it became the latest Canadian Licensed Producer (LP) to secure European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) clearance for two of its domestic production facilities.

However, fellow Canadian LP Vancouver-based Zenabis saw its shares plummet after sustaining an EU-GMP setback, last month. The success of Aphria brings the total number of Canadian facilities with EU-GMP approval to a little over a dozen – which isn’t many, alongside its hundreds of domestic cultivation facilities.

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$11 Billion German Market

Aphria says the approval opens up a medical cannabis market with a potential worth of billions of dollars. It will initially turn its focus to the German medical cannabis market which is currently worth around $100 million and set to be worth $11 billion by 2028.

Across all industries manufacturers aim to attain various internationally recognised standards, such as ISO and IEC. These help re-assure regulators and customers, and this is also the case in pharmaceutical space.

The U.S. drugs industry operates under Current Good Manufacturing Process (CGMP) regime which is based on five Ps; people, premises, processes, products and procedures. In their home market the Canadian LPs must comply with Health Canada’s Good Production Practices (GPP) standard.

However, these are both considered a lower level of quality assurance than EU-GMP, with its quantum focus on record keeping, operational standardisation and repetitive checking.

Supply Chain Traceability

It is similar in many ways to CGMP but ratchets-up with more robust measures around contamination control and supply chain traceability, amongst others. With its forensic rigor, EU-GMP is widely recognized as the Gold Standard of all ‘good manufacturing’ processes and securing the European standard is the equivalent to securing a global exporting passport.

Businesses looking to secure EU-GMP will initially need a gap assessment to determine what has to change to deliver alignment. Many undertake mock inspections before calling in the EU assessors for the final approval process.

Your Complete Guide to EU GMP-Certified CBD Isolate and Distillate (European Market)

Zenabis ‘Critical’ Failure

The difficulties in achieving EU-GMP were outlined in a no-hold-barred report by the Maltese authorities on an application from Zenabis for an EU-GMP. In November, last year, the Maltese regulators published a synopsis of their work assessing an application by Zenabis for EU-GMP compliance at facility in Delta, British Columbia.

The report says it found the absence of a ‘correctly implemented pharmaceutical quality system’, which was described as ‘critical ‘and  29 other findings, nine of which were ‘major’. While the company said it would initiate all the ‘corrective and preventive actions’ this has failed materialise, reports BNN Bloomberg.

This rejection will impact on the bottom line as Zenabis had announced plans to supply medical cannabis to a chain of 15 Maltese pharmacies, and up to 6,000 kilograms of dried cannabis annually to a second European business. Zenabis told BNN Bloomberg that is now ‘focused’ on achieving an EU-GMP certification for a second operation in New Brunswick, where it is licenced to produce over 46,000 kilograms of cannabis.

Euro-wide Free Trade

Only a handful of Canadian cannabis companies have secured EU-GMP. They include; Tilray, Cronos Group, Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis. Alberta-based Aurora says it intends to seek and achieve such certification for all its sites.

Most Canadian companies are pursuing EU-GMP ‘as it’s already been established for medicinal products’, says Karina Lahnakoski, vice president of quality and regulatory at Toronto consultancy Cannabis Compliance.

Any cannabis producer wishing to expand globally is looking at securing GMP certification.

The EU-GMP is run under the auspices of the European Medicines Agency and sets the standard for all medicines in the 28 member states. Once an EU-GMP is secured in one country the rules of the Single Market mean product from that facility can be freely traded across all member states.

For non-European manufactures looking to enter the EU they need to secure approval from the regulators in the country to which their imports are destined. Hence, the inspection of the Zenabis Canadian facility by regulators from Malta, where the company has a foothold with plans for an extraction facility.

Non-Compliance Concerns

However, the EU has mutual recognition agreements with many countries and, in such a case, the assessment can be undertaken by the manufacturers’ domestic regulators.

After inspecting a manufacturing site authorities either issue an EU-GMP certificate or a non-compliance statement. These are entered on to the EudraGMP database, which is a publicly accessible platform containing manufacturing and import authorizations, GMP certificates and non-compliance statements.

The EU-GMP authorization process was outlined in a recent press release by German-based business AMP German Cannabis Group which trades on Canadian Securities Exchange. Its business model is to source EU-GMP medical cannabis from Canadian LPs to supply the German market.

Get EU GMP certified Extracts

£58 Billion Euro Market

It says that in order to achieve EU-GMP each Canadian LP it identifies as being a potential partner will need to undergo an ‘EU-GMP gap analysis and audit by its German consultants’.

Once the Canadian LP passes an audit, AMP Germany says it will arrange for an EU-GMP inspection and certification by German authorities. The attraction of the European market is there for all to see. 

The European cannabis Report from Prohibition Partners says that the first-world continent with over 742 million people, and a total healthcare spend of €2.3 trillion, will be the largest global medical cannabis market. 

Over €500m has been invested in European cannabis businesses over the last year and by 2028 the medical cannabis market will be worth £58 billion, says the report. 

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Hemp Industry’s First Year Blues – And The China Question

News the ‘Don’ in the White House has secured a deal for China to buy U.S. hemp has been given an industry thumbs-up.

But, the question now being asked is whether there will be enough supply to fulfill any oriental exports. The passing of the Farm Bill in 2018 saw a massive increase in hemp farming with total acreage under cultivation rising five-fold. Licences issued for hemp cultivation increased to more than 400,000 acres in 2019, from 80,000 acres in 2018.

“As Bad As It Can Get”

However, recent estimates suggest just over the half of the licensed areas where planted, and figures from advocate group says Vote Hemp seem to back this up.

It estimates 2019’s U.S. hemp harvest will come in between 115,000 to 138,000 acres – well up on the to 78,126 acres of hemp harvested in 2018. And, whilst still a U.S. record, an increase of 50% it is hardly of the same magnitude as the licensing round indicated.

It’s been a tough year for this industry, with a combination of depressed prices, bad weather, seed issues, a lack of processing facilities and punitive rules on THC-content combining to depress even the most optimistic spirits.

One Illinois official told the wvik.org that ‘2019 was as bad as it can get’.

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Seed Sex Issues

With most farmers looking to grow hemp to supply the booming CBD market  there was a move away from the seeds familiar to the industrial hemp industry. Some farmers claim these new seeds just simply failed, while others have seen them produce ‘hot’ crops.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) Interim Final Rules, published in October, last year, state that crops with a THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) level of 0.3% are illegal and must be destroyed.

Over in Europe the THC content is restricted to 0.2% and this means most hemp plants are monocieous – both sexes on the same plant – producing CBD levels of around 3%. Seeds with a 0.3% THC bring opportunities to breed dioecious, or female plants, with much higher levels of CBD – up to 15%.

However, U.S. industry ‘Bible’ Hemp Benchmarks carries reports from dozens of farmers who are in dispute with seed companies over poor  genetics; ‘for providing non-feminized seed sold as feminized, as well as for seeds with low germination rates’, it says. 

Hot Crop

One large Kentucky business is suing an Oregon seed company for $44 million after purchasing millions of ‘feminised’ seeds – to discover ‘70% were male’. The Kentucky crop was destroyed to avoid pollinating other area hemp crops, resulting in losses for farmers and processors, say reports.

These difficulties are compounded by the USDA’s Interim Final Rules released on October 31 which takes a harsh approach to THC levels. This is a major irritant for U.S. farmers as they include in their calculations not just THC, but THC’s non psychoactive cannabinoid cousin THC-A (the acidic form of THC).

New USDA Rules Spell Problems For Smokable Hemp Flower Industry

With this included in total THC levels – on a dry weight basis –  this can boost total THC content to well over 0.3%. Recent reports from Arizona have demonstrated the extent of this problem with nearly 40% of its farmers’ plants failing the THC test.

The Arizona Department of Agriculture’s Plant Services Division, say that since early December, 53 of the 130 hemp crops tested failed, on a total of nearly 700 acres, equating to $13 million in losses.

“The failure rate is not unexpected based on anecdotal information from around the country regarding variable seed quality and genetic expression, for THC content, between the varieties planted,” said John Caravetta, associate director of the Plant Services Division.

Buyers’ Retreat

Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Montana, Tennessee and Kentucky are amongst the largest hemp growing states in the U.S. The Hemp Benchmark Alliance monthly reports on the state of the growing industry makes for interesting reading.

In the last report of 2019 its summary of the year discusses the oversupply of CBD biomass, depressed prices and the concerns of anxious farmers looking for buyers.

It highlights the frustration of one Oregon cultivator who says that along with depressed hemp prices one of the biggest concerns is the growing number of slated buyers backing out of contracts. “These buyers are hedging on the fact that these farmers aren’t set up properly.”

Another said: “People want to make deals but the buyers are coming in far too low.” This report bleakly continued: “With many farmers experiencing difficulties and taking losses growing hemp this year, along with the perception that the USDA’s regulations will make it more difficult to bring in a compliant harvest, how much acreage will be planted in the coming year is also an open question.”

Many hemp farmers are experiencing difficulties and taking losses

New Trade Group

Associated Press reports the USDA estimating that 20% of the country’s hemp crop will fail under the proposed regulations. The problems facing the industry may explain why the USDA extended the comment period on its Interim Final Rules for the industry for 30 days, until January 29.

One agricultural commentator told the Associated Press: “There are 46 states where hemp is legal, and I’m going to say that every single state has raised concerns to us about something within the rule.”

In an effort to help the industry speak as one voice more than 300 farmers, the U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance, First Crop, HiLo Seed, GeoCanna and Farm Journal have come together to form the U.S. Hemp Growers Association

Former Hershey, USDA and Organic Trade Association official Cara Wilcox will be its first executive director. One of its first issues will be to deal with are the hemp testing rules which mandate that a crop must be harvested within 15 days of its THC test, which, itself, must be conducted at a lab certified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

THC-Free Hemp Seed

Farmers are lobbying for a 1% THC limit and a 30-day harvest window to give them more flexibility, along with calls for improved crop insurance cover. There is also the issue of seed genetics and the need to overcome hot crops.

On the latter point a Spanish hemp seed known by Panakeia is one of the first THC-free ones of its kind to come to market. Developed by Hemp Trading and the Universidad Politècnica de Valencia reports are emerging of U.S. suppliers sourcing seeds for future growing seasons.

Such a move may eventually see the U.S. overcome its existing hemp hurdles and allow it to become an exporting powerhouse – to China – and elsewhere.

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