In a shocking move, Italy has become one of the most restrictive countries in Europe when it comes to the sale of Cannabidiol (CBD) obtained from hemp varieties of the cannabis plant.
Reported in Hemp Today, The decision by officials is to classify CBD products as narcotics and to ban everything including oils, vapes and any other products not covered by the Novel Foods ruling which had banned CBD in edibles.
Italy has been in CBD limbo since a new more Conservative Government came into power in 2018 and made moves to prohibit the beneficial cannabinoid from general sale. Interestingly, this latest ruling does “cause apparent conflict in Italy following a separate recent decree from the Agriculture Ministry that listed hemp flowers for “extraction uses” as an agricultural product, and not a drug” (Hemp Today)
Up to March 2019 customers could by CBD over the counter in all its various forms in Italy. Then after a ruling banning hemp derivative sale, CBD was still available widely online and imported from other Countries in Europe relatively easily. Prohibition Partners reported at the time that: “The Supreme Court of Cassation said existing laws do not permit the sale or transfer, for any reason, of products ‘derived from the cultivation of cannabis’, and that products currently on sale including oil, leaves, inflorescences and resin must be removed from shelves.” After this point CBD remained on sale online, but not in high street shops.
But now the Government has gone further.
It is unclear how the Italian Government plans to handle the vast quantities of CBD imports that will inevitably be occurring daily regardless of any rulings.
Some have wondered if this could be the influence of giant medical players in the cannabinoid industry. Hemp Today reports “Observers have noted that the decree establishing narcotic status for CBD is, in part, preparation for the introduction of Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug whose manufacturer, UK-headquartered GW Pharmaceuticals, has requested authorization to begin selling that product on the Italian market. GW is slowly expanding its distribution of Epidiolex in Europe, with rollouts also afoot in the U.K., Germany, Spain and France.”
Whatever the reason, this ruling could cause serious issues for Italian patients currently self-medicating with cannabidiol who will now be forced to source their medicine illegally. On the other hand, this will move CBD more in line with other cannabis products already illegal due to THC content, so rather than removing the product officials will simply be faced with impossible enforcement due to the many bordering countries still selling CBD online and in shops that can be travelled to from Italy.
This news from Italy follows the recent signs that the European Union is moving towards regarding CBD and other hemp extracts as narcotics. Hopefully, the well-established CBD industry and its various regulatory boards throughout Europe can push back on this to ensure CBD access for everyone who requires it.