Production of CBD Cosmetics in the EU

Until recently, the production of CBD cosmetics was limited because of the legislative restrictions that took place in 1961 and the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. In the Convention, the UN defines cannabis as a narcotic drug, including the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant from which the resin has not been extracted. This definition excluded the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops, but the Cannabis plant is defined as any plant of the genus Cannabis, which made things a bit more difficult for the producers of hemp and hemp products.

The cannabis was regarded ”consumed” when it had been supplied to any person or enterprise for retail distribution, medical use, or scientific research, and by article 19 of the Convention, subdued to detailed screening by the member states and the UN.

Following this regulation, the European Commission has listed cannabidiol in its Cosmetic ingredient database (CosIng) as prohibited from use in cosmetic products. It stated that cannabidiol, if prepared as an extract or tincture or resin of Cannabis, is forbidden in accordance with the Convention.

Uncertainty for CBD Cosmetics

With the development of the CBD industry in Europe, this leads to different interpretations. Some believed that, by this entry in its CosIng list, the European Commission forbids the production and retail of CBD cosmetics in general, while some producers opted for the isolates as a perfect solution for the cosmetic industry.

After a long struggle that resulted in confusion and disturbances in the market, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) pushed the EU Working Group on Cosmetic Products to advise the European Commission towards harmonizing regulation. EIHA’s proposal for CosIng suggested that extracts from industrial hemp and pure CBD should be prohibited from use in cosmetic products only if they are not manufactured in compliance with the laws in a country of origin.

Industrial hemp (expressis verbis seeds and leaves) and any products or ingredients derived from industrial hemp are clearly excluded from the scope of the Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs, EIHA stressed in their proposal.

CBD Cosmetics Greenlighted in the EU

As a result of this lobbying, in 2019 a new entry was included in the CosIng database: Cannabis Sativa leaf extract, with no cosmetic or other restrictions. This opened the way to mass production and retail of CBD cosmetics in the European Union.

Ilesol Pharmaceuticals guarantees immaculate legality of its products. The contracts with our suppliers bound them to provide us with a hemp leaf exclusively. The whole range of our products is made of leaf extracts produced from the certified organic Croatian hemp.

Reviewed by Sasha Bajilo, founder of ILESOL Pharmaceuticals, an industrial scale producer of CBD products and formulations. Expert on Hemp/Cannabis policy, member of the Croatian Ministry of Health regulatory commission for medical cannabis.