The cannabinoid has burst onto the local cannabis scene in little over a year. Its ability to help with anxiety or pain management is not going unnoticed and the world seems to be openly embracing cannabis as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.
Now Europe is set to be next on the list for CBD. Although the relationship is more confusing than what we’ve experienced here. The European countries all have different laws when it comes to CBD, even though they sit under a single EU umbrella.
The various regulations between these countries are what CBD legislation is struggling with. They’re holding back this cannabinoid and companies from making major progress. However, these may only just be temporary hindrances. It is estimated that the European CBD market will grow by 400% by 2023. In 2018 the EU market was worth an estimated 318 million U.S. dollars. With the largest markets being the UK, Austria, Spain and Switzerland.
Much like South Africa, there are some grey areas in the context of safety and regulation regarding CBD. A recent development in the regulation of the food industry has only made things more confusing for those in the EU. This ruling essentially states that food (or any substance) that was not common in the EU prior to 1997, must obtain certain approval certificates. So CBD has numerous hoops which it will have to jump through before being sold legally.
Looking at Austria, which has had a promising market thus far, is taking steps backwards now. Regulators request that CBD no longer be sold in pharmacies. Ireland is also taking numerous CBD products off of their shelves.
These confusing regulations are taking their toll on various retailers. The CEO and founder of Harmony, Antonin Cohen, believes that the EU could use some help from North American industry experts and investors. He said in an interview, “If we don’t get European entrepreneurs and investors together, Europe will be late to the party. Let’s learn from the U.S. and team up to develop a sustainable market.”
Everyone is trying to make a market out of CBD at the moment. Whether Europe will be able to do so successfully with a regulated market remains to be seen. South Africa will get a better understanding of the regulatory framework around cannabis come March of this year. Once the State of the Nation Address and Budget Speech is announced.