Austria’s Minister of Health ordered businesses to immediately stop selling CBD food and cosmetics because the products fall under the European Union’s definition of “novel food.”
Cannabidiol is explicitly included in the EU’s novel food catalog, which means individual member countries may limit the marketing and sale of it without specific authorization.
Business association Cannabis Austria CEO Stefan Wolyniec said the process of obtaining approval for a novel food could cost up to half a million euros, according to Austrian newspaper Kurier.
No new legislation was passed to ban CBD products; rather, it is a new interpretation of the existing rules.
An unforeseen move
The notice to stop sales of CBD foods and cosmetics took many by surprise.
Aida, a popular chain of espresso bars and pastry shops based in Vienna, announced on its social media accounts last week that it would give away remaining CBD products in its shops – rather than destroy them – and halt future sales to comply with the government position.
That said, the company plans to protest the move by selling nicotine brownies.
CBD sold as essential oils is not affected by the ban, nor is the sale of hemp flowers, provided that the amount of THC doesn’t exceed 0.3% after decarboxylation and certain labeling requirements are adopted.
The Austrian food safety agency visited Magu-CBD and asked it to “immediately stop the sales of CBD-containing food such as cakes, dietary supplements, and teas,” CEO Sofie Sagmeister told Marijuana Business Daily.
To continue selling flower, the cannabis products manufacturer will add a warning label to its products.
“We have packaging material which became obsolete overnight, costing us 40,000 euros ($45,500),” Sagmeister said.
“Of course, we see the necessity of regulating CBD, especially regarding youth and consumer protection as well as long-needed quality standards. The whole CBD industry of Austria is agreeing on those points,” she added.
“But following the advice of the food authority to switch sales to ‘aroma products’ would make us seem noncredible. We want to continue selling certified and tested products for human consumption, prioritizing the safety of our clients.”
Smoking products will not be banned but are likely to be subject to laws to prevent youth usage. Like e-cigarettes, these products will be for over +18 and come with warnings.
The shipping and postage of smoking products will also be restricted, meaning global distribution will be banned.
It’s not just the CBD market that has been targeted in Austria. Earlier this year it was reported that the government wants to impose a ban on cannabis seeds and cuttings, which are currently legal in Austria and are a big part of the European multi-market distribution channels.