France has started a process that could end with a Europe-wide ban on CBD-containing cosmetic products.

The outcome hinges on whether an EU assessment finds these products not safe for consumers’ reproductive health.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which implements Europe’s chemicals legislation, has been notified of the country’s intention to ask for the “harmonised classification and labelling” of CBD, thereby putting a process into play in which information on the hazardous properties of a substance can be submitted by anyone before a risk assessment committee comes up with an opinion.

The ECHA said France started the process based on CBD’s “potential to cause reproductive toxicity”.

If the risk assessment committee’s opinion matches France’s view, CBD will be classified as a carcinogenic, mutagenic and reprotoxic (CMR) substance and won’t be allowed in any cosmetic products on the EU market.

This is not the first time French authorities have taken action to outlaw CBD products. In 2020, a case against French CBD vaping company Kanavape’s founders led to a landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) which constitutes the grounding for the legal status of CBD in all EU member states.


A ‘litmus test’ for studies on CBD toxicity


According to CannIntelligence senior legal analyst Anthony Traurig, the case against CBD in cosmetic products may have similar effects for the legitimacy of the EU government’s ban of CBD-based consumer goods.

“It is important to keep France’s history with CBD in mind here,” Traurig said. “France famously lost its legal battle in the Kanavape case trying to ban CBD vapes, and this challenge to CBD cosmetics could be a litmus test for the type of scientific showing that a member state must make to justify a ban on CBD products.”

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    Traurig added that the research used to support France’s stand in this matter does not necessarily provide evidence on whether cosmetic products containing CBD constitute a risk to human health.

    “Studies on CBD reproductive toxicity, upon which France is lodging its challenge, were based on high dosages of CBD administered orally to mice,” he said. “So justifying a ban on CBD in cosmetics would seem to be quite a leap.”


    EU regulation revision open to input


    France’s initiative with the ECHA was announced days after another EU development in the process towards a review of the regulation of CBD-containing cosmetic products.

    At the beginning of June, the European Commission (EC) launched a call for scientific data on the safety of hemp-derived substances, including CBD, in cosmetic products.

    Once the window for submissions is closed, in October 2024, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), which provides opinions on the health and safety risks linked to consumer products other than food, will be mandated to come up with a risk and data assessment on CBD in cosmetic products.

    CannIntelligence anticipated this process, which is unfolding within the framework of the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation (CPR), as many member states appeared to be in favour of such a mandate to the SCCS.

    The outcome of the entire procedure may lead to a revision of the CPR which will take into account the CJEU’s ruling in the Kanavape case when regulating CBD in consumer products.

    – Tiziana Cauli CannIntelligence staff

    Photo: Tristan Colangelo

    Tiziana Cauli

    Senior reporter
    Tiziana is an Italian journalist from Sardinia. She has worked for both international and local media in Italy, South Africa, France, Spain, the UK, Lebanon and Belgium. She also worked as a communications manager for several international NGOs in the humanitarian sector.