Industrial hemp industry call for international legislation update and harmonisation
The global hemp derived food and food supplement industry is developing from a niche market to mainstream markets. Many regulations and legislation must be updated based on the latest scientific evidence to sustain the industry’s current double-digit growth rate, to attract new investors, create jobs and to enhance the development of consumer safe products. A big chance Europe should not miss participants at the 14th International Conference of the European Industrial Hemp Association were told.
Held in Cologne, Germany in early June, the 14th International Conference of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) attracted 330 participants from 44 countries. The two-day event discussed the latest technological developments, new products, market volumes and strategies along with workshops for EIHA members that took place the day before the conference.
Industrial hemp shows an impressive worldwide growth with the main cultivation areas found in China, Canada and the European Union (EU) and commercial cultivation of industrial hemp in the US starting this year. In Europe, the cultivation area increased from 8 000 ha in 2011 to more than 33 000 ha in 2016. This development is mainly driven by the growing demand from the health and super food market as well as from the demand for active plant ingredients as food supplements.
In “The Cologne Declaration on Industrial Hemp”, signed by 191 of conference participants, the hemp food industry highlights the key issues facing the sector. The signatories urge policy makers to develop a “reasonable and harmonised legislation on non-psychotropic cannabinoids such as CBD and hemp extracts as food supplement ingredients as well as pharmaceuticals” in Europe and elsewhere to ensure that “consumers are protected, to sustain the industry’s current double-digit growth rate, to attract new investors, create jobs and to boost development of safe products”.
According to the Declaration, reasonable and harmonised legislation on Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychotropic cannabinoid, guidance values for hemp food in all Member States of the EU is needed, especially to meet competition from producers from countries with more favourable framework regulations such as Canada, USA and China, that are already penetrating the European market.
Furthermore, in contrast to the rest of the world, the only hemp varieties certified for cultivation in the EU are the ones which contain less than 0.2 percent THC in the upper third of the crop. The signatories urge policy makers to create European legislation allowing for industrial hemp to possess a THC content below 0.3 percent in harmonisation with the rest of the world to create a level playing field especially with Canada and the USA.
Call to update UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs
The signatories also called for an end to the ban on the cultivation of industrial hemp in the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. According to the signatories, the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs makes no differentiation between marijuana, medical hemp and industrial hemp, the latter without any misuse potential.
Despite the exemptions as per paragraph 2 of Article 28, the signatories refer in particular to the implementation of Article 22 of the Single Convention. This article creates provisions for national governments not only to limit the production of illicit cannabis but also to ban the cultivation of industrial and medicinal hemp. EIHA and the signatories appeal to the UN to revise and update Article 22 of the Single Convention by excepting industrial and medicinal hemp.
The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) is a consortium of the hemp-processing industry. It represents the common interest of industrial hemp farmers and producers, both nationally and on a European level. EIHA is the only European consortium in the industrial hemp sector.
This sector includes, amongst other things, the use of hemp fibres, shavings, seeds and cannabinoids. Originally founded as an association for the European hemp industry, a quarter of the 130 EIHA members are based in countries outside the EU.