Finding Reputable Banks
One of the biggest issues I hear about is banking. How can CBD sellers find a secure, accessible way to handle their financial transactions? The two main areas sellers have issues with are the following:
Setting up a business bank account
Working with online payment processors such as PayPal and Stripe
Almost everyone in our industry feels most of Europe’s banking laws need updating and reform in regards to CBD. However, it’s important to note that many believe we’ll only see significant banking reform after we see changes regarding the legality of CBD.
The Novel Food Issue
The legality of CBD in Ireland is complex. When we talk about CBD sold legally in the country, we’re almost always talking about hemp-derived CBD. It’s divided into two types:
A pure version of CBD without oil, chlorophyll, wax, or other parts of the hemp plant. It contains no traces of THC. It’s the only type of CBD sold in retail stores and pharmacies.
This type is made from the entire hemp plant. It contains waxes, chlorophyll, oils, and cannabinoids. The only way to buy it in Ireland, and much of Europe, is from online retailers. Full-spectrum CBD can have up to .2% of THC – trace amounts for sure, but still detectable.
Novel Food Issue
That trace amount of .2% THC is a big deal, legally-speaking, due to what’s often referred to as the “novel food issue.” What does that mean?
The European Food Safety Authority recently changed the classification of CBD to that of “novel food.” They developed a set of guidelines for CBD products. While not legally binding, most EU countries follow these guidelines when developing their own CBD regulations.
In Ireland, CBD is only legal if it has no traces of THC. However, if a CBD product is processed in a way that removes all traces of THC, that product then becomes subject to novel food authorisation from the European Commission. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland requires that the European Commission authorises all CBD isolate products as a novel food.
The alternative is to use cold-press processing, which produces oils and other CBD products that have a trace amount of THC. However, the problem is that those trace amounts of THC mean the product violates the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, which bars all cannabis derivatives that contain THC.
The Next Five Years & Beyond
The novel food issue traps businesses in a no-win situation, where they’re either violating Ireland’s food safety regulations or the law.
Fortunately, public opinion on cannabis use is softening. Most industry experts, myself included, believe public opinion towards both CBD and cannabis will increase in favorability during the next five years and beyond.
Changing CBD Classification
In the next five years, I predict Ireland will finally determine whether or not to add CBD into the medicinal cannabis range. If so, that means hemp-derived CBD could only be obtained with a prescription, because it would no longer be classified as a food.
Personally, I believe classifying hemp-derived CBD oils within the medicinal cannabis category would be a mistake. The medicinal part of the plant is THC, so only cannabinoids should be classified as such. Hemp-derived CBD, which is THC-free, should remain classified as a food supplement.
CBD Medicinal Claims
CBD is currently classified as a food supplement, which means no company should make medicinal claims about its use. Unfortunately, an increasing number of CBD companies make medicinal claims about their products.
I and many others in the industry worry about this trend. If CBD manufacturers continue to make medicinal claims about their products, eventually governing bodies will intervene to assess these claims. Ultimately, they might decide to reclassify CBD products from food to medicine, which I believe would harm the industry as a whole.
As a member of the Cannabis Trade Association, I will continue to remain committed to a thorough screening of every brand that joins. All CTA members are forbidden from making medicinal claims about their products.
Finally, I believe all facets of the industry will focus on developing and strengthening regulations related to the manufacturing of CBD projects.
As we see an increase in cheap CBD oils made with substandard extraction methods, it’s important to always fight for fair, consistent production standards. Poor quality CBD products tarnish the industry and turn away customers.
However, high-quality standards have the opposite effect. They entice customers and help project an image of responsibility for the entire industry.