As the laws governing cannabis use change, so do the laws governing the specific cannabinoids that make up the plant, namely CBD and THC, and how and where they are used. While CBD has already been regulated differently in many places, THC often remains unregulated at all when used in edible products.
It has become more common for CBD to be separated from the rest of the cannabis plant and regulated differently. The main reason for this is that since CBD does not contain psychoactive properties, it should not be treated like psychoactive substances. With more recreational markets opening up and more food-based products launched, the question of how THC in food is legally regulated is becoming more of an issue.
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Let's take a look at CBD first
CBD, or cannabidiol, is often separated from the rest of the cannabis plant, and this gives it the ability to be used in places where the entire cannabis plant cannot be. When it comes to CBD in food, this is currently regulated:
United States – When it comes to the United States, there is a centuries-old federal-state battle. CBD is not allowed to be marketed as a food or dietary supplement by the FDA. On the other hand, individual states also have the option of maintaining their own regulatory standards. For example, Florida added in January 2020 as part of its hemp program that all parts of the hemp plant are allowed in food. The new law requires all manufacturers, processors, packagers, owners, formers, or vendors to have a food permit, the process and enforcement of which is through the Florida Department of Agriculture. Other states that have passed laws to allow CBD in food include: Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, and Texas, with California potentially on the go.
EU – According to Regulation 2015/2283, CBD is a novel food whose consumption history is not yet sufficient to be legal. Therefore, it is forbidden to be marketed as a food or dietary supplement without proper authorization. This didn't do much to stop the flow of CBD products onto store shelves. The whole thing is of course confusing, as the EU allows the cultivation of cannabis plants as long as the THC content does not exceed 0.2%.
At the same time, foods and beverages made from them fall under the regulation on novel foods. To be honest, there is no legal basis for the Novel Foods Act, but it is generally used as a law by member states. An application recently filed by the Cannabis Pharma company to manufacture a dietary supplement for adults with a daily intake of up to 130 mg could soon put CBD on the list of approved foods / ingredients on the novel food list.
Canada – Canada makes it a little easier. As a country that has already legalized the entire cannabis plant – high THC or low THC – and as a country that is already putting cannabis into food, CBD is a perfectly legal additive. It didn't start that way, however, as the initial legalization still kept cannabis foods illegal. As of an update of the Cannabis Act in 2019, cannabis products can legally be used in food.
Australia – In 2018, both federal and local health officials decided that buying and selling hemp products for food was legal. However, for it to be legal, the products must contain less than 0.005% THC.
In all of the places mentioned there is already a legalization, a push or laws that are very close to him. It's not surprising that CBD is accepted in food products, but it's also not surprising that in many places this is not the case. So let's take it up again.
Everything you always wanted to know about CBD foods
Regulation of THC in foods
With the relaxation of laws regarding cannabis, CBD has appeared in more and more places and often no longer shares the same laws as the cannabis plant as a whole. This was made possible by the lack of psychoactive properties in CBD, removing it from a narcotic classification in many places. However, THC is still generally considered a narcotic. It is also a key ingredient in the marijuana plant that is becoming increasingly popular for bringing in food. So what are the laws regulating THC in food?
USA – It probably goes without saying that it is 100% illegal to use THC in a food product according to the US federal government. However, anyone who has recently bought from a pharmacy knows that there is no shortage of cannabis foods. Every resort state allows cannabis food to be purchased, and so do many medical states.
EU – In the EU, THC is legally contained in industrial hemp, which according to the law may not exceed 0.2%. Part of the hemp is grown for food under Regulation No. 1307/20131, which allows hemp to be used with the accepted amount of THC in this way. That being said, there is no actual legislation regarding THC and food, which means individual member countries can implement their own laws.
Italy is an example of this. In January of this year, the Ministry of Health confirmed that THC is now allowed in food as long as the concentration from seeds and seminal flowers is no more than 2 mg / kg, which is around 0.0002%, and oil from seeds does not exceed 5 mg / kg, which is approximately 0.0005%. While this is a formidable move that only considers and allows THC, in reality only trace amounts are allowed. This type of legislation is very different from legislation that allows foods high in THC.
Germany is another example. In 1996 it lifted the ban on industrial hemp as long as it remained low in THC. Germany has allowed limited THC in products for some time, with the current maximum level being 10-100 times lower than it was in the 1990s, resulting in negligible trace levels.
Canada – Canada, like the free states of the United States, allows foods high in THC. It is regulated by this table, which gives the maximum amount to 10 mg per pack.
Australia & New Zealand – In Australia, cannabis is technically still illegal nationwide (except in Canberra). In New Zealand, a referendum (albeit non-binding) is due next month to see if people want to legalize recreational cannabis. However, both countries met in 2017 to set the priorities of the food regulatory system for 2017-2021. As part of this, low-THC hemp seeds can be used as food and in food.
Not just to get high – the underreported medical uses of THC
These are just a few examples of where and how in the world THC is found in food. Obviously, recreational markets see most of THC in food, but even non-legal countries have found ways to get THC in food, albeit in very small, fairly negligible amounts.
Of course, the only way to get THC into your food a few years ago was to leach the THC from the plant into hot butter (usually in your own kitchen lab) and then bake some nice cookies. At this rate, "special cookies" could end up on the menus of standard restaurants around the world in a few years.
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