Press release, Prague, 27 April 2023 – On 25 April, the Ministry of Agriculture informed through a press release that CBD and other cannabinoids derived from hemp are not approved for use in food and therefore the State Agricultural and Food Inspection Authority (SZPI) will ban them. Experts, economists and entrepreneurs in the cannabis sector have criticised the move, considering it illogical and unnecessary.
There are a number of reasons why this is an unnecessary and, moreover, unenforced step by the Czech authorities. Although the Ministry of Agriculture refers in its press release to the EU regulation on so-called novel food, this is not a legally binding regulation from the EU side, but only a recommendation. Individual Member States can therefore judge for themselves what is and what is not a novel food.
“Regarding novel foods, we have evidence in collaboration with the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) confirming that CBD and other cannabinoids should not be labelled as novel food. If something should be labelled as a novel food, it can only be highly concentrated isolates, most often in powder or crystal form. But not plant extracts produced by traditional methods. Our goal is to ensure, in cooperation with the state authorities, that only safe products that meet the food quality requirements reach the market,” said Hana Gabrielová, President of CzecHemp.
The use of plants and extracts from industrial hemp for industrial, food and cosmetic purposes is enshrined in Czech legislation. Further studies are needed to determine the safety of concentrated cannabinoid isolates, but e.g. CBD extracts from industrial hemp are considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It would be great if the Ministry of Agriculture clarified exactly what it considers to be a novel food and, as part of this work, should make a clear distinction between traditional hemp extracts containing naturally occurring cannabinoids and highly concentrated isolates. “EIHA has a long-standing collaboration with CzecHemp and will promptly share with the Czech authorities all relevant documentation, analyses and primary sources that clearly confirm that plant cannabinoids have been part of our ancestral diet for many centuries,” said EIHA Executive Director Lorenza Romanese.
The unexpected move by the State Agricultural and Food Inspectorate also surprised the national anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Voboril, who is also heavily involved in CBD regulation and who certainly does not want to go down the road of further bans. “We are currently preparing a proposal to create a completely new category of psychomodulatory substances, which would also cover CBD hemp and products with up to 1% THC. I was not informed in advance of this activity by the Ministry of Agriculture. It would have been better if the Government Office had been consulted. I was a bit surprised and it is not good,” said Jindřich Vobořil when we asked him for a comment.
Moreover, the current government claims that it does not want to curtail functioning industries that bring money to a tight budget. “The cannabis sector with CBD and other cannabinoids is worth hundreds of millions of crowns in the Czech Republic, and banning it would harm more than 100 companies with hundreds of employees,” says Jan Martin Paďouk, co-owner of one of these companies, CannaCare, and vice president of CzecHemp, and continues, “Foods prepared from cannabis to contain phytocannabinoids are a traditional thing in our country, precisely because of their health-promoting properties. We expect the responsible authorities to heed the long-standing call from experts to ensure quality control of CBD products on the market, instead of banning the entire segment, effectively opposing current scientific knowledge, including the WHO conclusions.”
The Czech Hemp Cluster CzecHemp is an industry cluster bringing together non-profit organisations, educational and research institutions and businesses active in the hemp / cannabis sector with the aim of developing the hemp / cannabis industry in the Czech Republic and across the globe.
Hana Gabrielová, President: tel.: +420 777 027 012, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lukáš Hurt, Manager: tel.: +420 730 128 319, e-mail: email@example.com