Products containing CBD can no longer be sold or marketed in Germany without Novel Food or prescription medicine authorisation

The German courts followed guidance from the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety after European Commission (EC) added CBD to its Novel Food catalogue in January.

Hemp-derived food products will now require rigorous testing in order to be sold legally. The only alternative is the prescription medicine pathway.

The Dusseldorf Administrative Court emphasised that although the hemp plant is not novel, current popular products that are derived from it can be.

Luca Bucchini, managing director of food regulation specialists, Hylobates Consulting, said:

“What matters is that the end products are novel.

“This is the standard interpretation of EU law.

“It is also not relevant that solvent extraction or CO2 extraction, used to produce the extracts, are not novel processing method.”

Markrell’s Cannabis Law team stressed that the ruling could have wide ramifications for the CBD industry and consumers.

Team head Elliott Rolfe said:

“This is good news for German pharmaceutical companies but potentially very bad news for CBD companies and food businesses selling CBD containing consumables, who may now have to go through a lengthy marketing authorisation process before continuing to sell their products in Germany.

“This is a growing concern that other nations may feel pressured to follow suit as a result of this decision, which could have wider implications for the EU’s fast-growing CBD industry.

“Many businesses will find it strange and frustrating that these hemp extracts, that have an identical chemical profile to hemp-based foods that have been consumed for thousands of years and deemed non-novel, are being treated as novel by certain regulators and courts.”

CBD as a novel food

The term novel food defines foods that do not have a significant history of consumption in the EU prior to May 1997.

Novel foods require authorisation before they go to market to ensure that they are safe for consumers, properly labelled and in no way nutritionally harmful.

CBD was added to the Novel Food Catalogue by the European Commission (EC) in January this year.

The same month, the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) warned that it was to crack down on CBD food and supplements that failed to comply with EU Novel Food regulations.