Do not expect European novel food authorisations before the end of 2022 at the very earliest and do not expect generic authorisations to cover non-applicant products, a new report from CBD-Intel warns.

The implementation of European novel food authorisations for CBD and cannabinoid products is off to a rocky start and conditions do not look like they will improve any time soon. Processing of applications has already been paused due to questions over whether CBD could be considered a narcotic and now European regulators have also told CBD-intel that the quality of received applications thus far has been lacking.

“Ominously, the European Commission has indicated that ‘many’ of the 50+ applications received to date for Novel Food approval have not been of high enough quality, or have not contained sufficient information to be validated or forwarded to the EFSA for technical assessment,” CBD-Intel warns in an exclusive new report looking at the issues surrounding CBD as a novel food.

It is likely, as a result, that many applications will be sent back for further work or turned down out of hand. And that of course is only after the EU starts assessing applications again – an action that is not guaranteed to happen at this time.

The European Commission has told CBD-Intel it will not review the 50+ applications it has received for Novel Food approval of naturally derived CBD (synthetic applications can proceed) before obtaining a common position on the questions of CBD as a narcotic, and so has not yet forwarded these applications for technical review to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).


Generic approvals unlikely

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    Meanwhile European authorities are also unlikely to follow the general procedure used for many previous novel food authorisations following rule changes in 2018 where one approved application could create a generic authorisation usable by others.

    Instead it is believed that – due to regulatory fears over cannabis-related substances – companies will have to individually demonstrate safety of products. This safety data would then be protected under Regulation (EU) 2015/2283, Article 26. Even though this would give a commercial advantage to those applying, it still creates something of a headache as CBD-Intel believes EFSA will require very specific data on a particular product, namely the manufacture, characterisation and chemical makeup of a Novel Food, in order to assess its safety characteristics.

    As such, detailed data for each individual product will be required, much of which will be protected information under Article 26. In this way, the European Commission is unlikely to provide generic approvals for a “class” of CBD-containing foods such as CBD-isolate products, and in practice, approvals will be related directly to a particular applicant, because this is the only way the Commission and EFSA will satisfy themselves of safety for consumer.

    “Despite the EU Regulations’ intention to allow generic approval of new foods in the EU, CBD will in practice require an applicant-specific approval, given its controversial status in the minds of regulators,” the CBD-Intel report added.

    The report, CBD as a Novel Food: the future for edibles in Europe is available from the CBD-Intel website as a standalone item not requiring a subscription to the site.

    CBD-Intel staff

    Photo: Lucas Alexander

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    This article was written by one of CannIntelligence’s international correspondents. We currently employ more than 40 reporters around the world to cover individual cannabis and cannabinoid markets. For a full list, please see our Who We Are page.