The Future is bright for Hemp in Europe
Thanks to its historical and cultural background, Europe has unique views on hemp, CBD and marijuana. We have written this article to give you a look at how Europe uses hemp and how CBD-related products are already a booming market. We’ve tried to give you a broad overview but there’s a lot to cover.
At HO KARAN, we are launching a skincare range of products made with hempseed oil. We are located in Nantes, a startup-friendly city on the West of France. We also have an office in Paris, at Station F, “the world’s biggest startup campus.” European hemp laws and culture affect us both negatively and positively.
On the dark side, CBD and other related substances are misunderstood and often illegal. For instance in France, where most of the industrial hemp is grown, CBD is very difficult to produce, sell, and consume. We will see later why this happens.
On the bright side, industrial hemp is accepted by the public and legal in most of the countries in Europe. In the meantime, a community of companies, activists, and individuals have gathered together because of the unfair demonization of hemp. They work hard to make hemp-related products helpful and accessible to everyone.
WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY ABOUT HEMP IN EUROPE?
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction starts with a general statement: “In the European Union, it is legal to cultivate and supply cannabis plants for hemp fibre if they have low levels of THC.”
Thanks to this law, applicable for every Member State of the European Union, industrial hemp is grown in a lot of countries. France is the leader. Surprisingly, the tiny country of Estonia comes second.
While European enthusiasm for hemp is tangible, some legal obstacles persist if you dive deeper in the subject. The European Union is a young institution and so is its hemp industry. For these reasons, there is a legal vacuum on CBD. The European regulation does not control CBD by any means, so all member states have different laws concerning growing, producing, selling, or importing products with CBD and/or THC.
That is why CBD oils are almost always produced from industrial hemp. Most member states only allow selling products with extremely low levels of THC, the cannabinoid which makes people feel high. Their laws consider that CBD oils which have a higher percentage of THC are narcotics.
Differences in laws make a complex patchwork of regulations which does not encourage research and development. Still, a lot of companies are fighting for the European Union to legalize CBD in all member states. They are already exploring CBD-related products because they see its amazing potential for the well-being of its customers. This current legal vacuum, combined to the work of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) and its members, means we can soon expect a positive shift in EU regulations.
PRO-HEMP AND PRO-CBD ORGANIZATIONS IN EUROPE FIGHT FOR BETTER ACCESS
In Europe, the central organization of hemp advocacy is the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA). It was officially created in 2005 after several years of informal association.The EIHA mission mostly consists of encouraging the development of the hemp industry, representing the industry to the EU, and the sharing of information in order to educate both lawmakers and regular people alike.
A thousand associations, national organizations, companies, and individuals involved in the hemp industry joined it because of its significant power of advocacy. These members come from all European countries and work in very different hemp sub-industries: fibers, food/animal feed, hemp shivs, pharmaceuticals, consulting, research.
Another key actor is CannaTech, a global event which took place in London this year. We had the chance to be there on October 25 and saw the exploding European and global hemp market. Its motto, “Accelerate Cannabis Innovation,” tells it all. Investors, brands, and speakers came from all continents to show and tell about their innovations. The future of hemp and CBD felt brighter than ever.
Europe is already a fertile ground for hemp and its growing fast thanks to the increasing consumption of other hemp-based products (food, clothes, hempcrete, etc.). In 2016, 33,000 hectares of hemp were cultivated on the continent, which equals about 81,500 acres. In the same year, the United States grew 9,650 acres.
EUROPEAN HEMP BRANDS ARE A SOURCE OF INNOVATION
In Europe, innovation is everywhere and affects every CBD-related industry.
Harmony Hemp is one of these activist-like companies. Based in Barcelona, it sells CBD vape juices, pure CBD, and vape pens. It focuses a lot on the quality of its products and is lobbying the government to ensure only safe CBD products are sold in Europe. Standards need to be established to ensure that only quality CBD products reach the market.
Harmony Hemp has studied cannabinoids since 2008 and wants to show to the world the powers of CBD. That is why it focuses on explaining how to use it safely and efficiently. Therefore, it is a reliable source of information.
Another interesting thing takes place in Slovenia. The Australian pharmaceutical group MGC Pharmaceuticals started to harvest cannabis there. Why is that? Because it also started a cosmetic brand based in Slovenia: MGC Derma. It focuses a lot on R&D and the potential benefits of CBD on the skin. Like Harmony Hemp, it is a trustful source of information because it is not trying to profit from the consumers’ lack of knowledge. It tries to educate them on what could solve their skin disorders.
In France, HO KARAN follows the same path. We already sells skin care products made with hemp seed oil. The benefits of our products are their high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins (A, B1, B3, E, …), proteins, minerals, omega 3 and 6 (essential fatty acids). All of that make our oil, cream, shower gel and soap very moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, and strengthening. In the future, HO KARAN hopes to explore deeper into CBD or other molecules like terpenoids, for its benefits on damaged skin.
Companies exploring CBD abound in Europe. The industry is watching the results of recent meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva (Switzerland). The topic of the meeting was the international classification of drugs, including CBD.
There, pharmaceuticals lobbyists and decision-makers who are against cannabis faced off against an experienced guest: Raul Elizalde. He is the first CEO of a cannabis company listed in the American stock exchange: HEMPMEDS. He has a vast expertise on CBD products and was accompanied by several doctors. Together, they made studies in Mexico concerning the benefits of CBD. He held a lot of influence over the meeting by showing this up-to-date research.
LOOKING TOWARD A HOPEFUL FUTURE FOR CBD OIL AND HEMP IN EUROPE
Hopefully, with research and information towards CBD always increasing, a broader public is aware of the benefits of CBD. A virtuous cycle is on its way and we hope this event will accelerate it:
On the 29th of March 2017, the EIHA said in a press release:
“Today, 100,000s of citizens already benefit from CBD, dozens of companies show double-digit growth and increasing demand.”
Now you have an overview of what is going on in Europe concerning hemp and CBD oil. The topic is so vast that we could not cover it all. Our team of experts will be glad to answer your questions. Feel free to reach us at [email protected] if you have any questions. Take note that you can only pre-order our products on Kickstarter before the 23rd of November.