Last week, the European Commission (the “Commission”) retracted its preliminary position on treating hemp-derived cannabidiol (“CBD”) and other extracts derived from the flowering tops of the Cannabis sativa L. plant as narcotics under the U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961 (the “Single Convention”). We were relieved to see this development; faithful readers of this blog may recall us explaining how problematic the Commission’s preliminary position really was.
The Commission’s change of position stemmed from the recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”)—Europe’s highest court—that CBD derived from the entire hemp plant is not a narcotic under the Single Convention; and thus, should be freely traded between European Union (“EU”) member states.
Although the CJEU acknowledged that “a literal interpretation of the provisions of the Single Convention might lead to the conclusion that […] CBD […] extracted from a plant of the Cannabis genus […] constitutes a cannabis extract [….]”, the court also pointed to the fact that:
since CBD does not contain a psychoactive ingredient in the current state of scientific knowledge … it would be contrary to the purpose and general spirit of the Single Convention to include