UN Calls for Advertising Ban, HIA Calls for Δ8-THC regulation, TIGRR under Fire, France Confirms CJEU Decision

Last week, the UN World Drug Report called for a comprehensive ban on advertising cannabis, claiming that media coverage is responsible for the growing trend in adolescent cannabis use. The US HIA issued a position paper calling for Δ8-THC regulation, and not prohibition. In the UK, the TIGRR report came under fire for placing CBD food supplements in the category of over-the-counter medicines. In France, the Court of Cassation ruled the sale of CBD is legal as long as it is produced in the EU and according to the rules set by the CJEU.

UN calls for a comprehensive ban on advertising cannabis

In the World Drug Report 2021, published on Thursday, the UN called for prioritizing public health over private business through a ‘comprehensive ban’ on advertising cannabis. The report highlights a decreasing trend in adolescents perceiving cannabis as harmful and the increasing use of cannabis.

The UN finds that the decreasing perception of risk in the US is considered a spillover effect as debates over measures allowing the medical and non-medical use of cannabis extend from state to state and increase regular cannabis use. The report also states that the media coverage of the medical use of various cannabis products in many states containing claims of the medical benefits of cannabis products, including those of CBD, is responsible for this trend.

Apart from the advertising ban, the UN calls for an increase in the investments in research ‘both into the harm cannabis use poses to health and the possible medical uses of the drug’.

Increasing use of cannabis among adolescents

In the US in 2020, the daily or near-daily use of cannabis was estimated at 4.1 percent among high-school students compared with nearly 1 percent in 1991. The increase in daily or near-daily use of cannabis is more significant among 8th and 10th-grade students, and in 2020 was at its highest level
among all high-school students since 1991. The trends in cannabis use among high-school students are in stark contrast to the decline in tobacco and alcohol use. The past-month prevalence of tobacco
use among high-school students declined from nearly 12 percent in 2011 to 5 percent in 2020, while the past-month prevalence of alcohol use declined from 26 percent to 21 percent over the same period.

In Europe in 2019, of secondary school students aged 15–16 in 34 countries in Europe, cannabis is the most widely used drug, with an average past-year prevalence of 13 percent: 15 percent among boys and 11 percent among girls. There is a great variation in cannabis use among students from the country to country, ranging from an annual prevalence of 4.8 percent in North Macedonia and 5.1 percent in Iceland to 23 percent in the Czech Republic and Italy. Overall, cannabis use remained quite stable among secondary school students in Europe aged 15–16 over the period 2007–2019, with an average lifetime prevalence of about 16 percent and past-month prevalence of about 13 percent.

HIA calls for Δ8-THC regulation

On Tuesday, the Hemp Industry Association (HIA) issued a position statement emphasizing that Δ8-THC is not a controlled substance under federal law. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and its derivates that do not contain more than 0.3% ∆9-THC concentration in the US. Since the rapid proliferation combined with a general lack of regulation has sparked the entrance of substandard products into the market, the HIA calls for responsible regulation. Viewing the prohibition as a failed concept, the HIA encourages the FDA to regulate Δ8-THC and other hemp compounds, including CBD.

Also, the HIA underlines that Δ8-THC doesn’t meet the Drug Enforcement Administration’s definition of a synthetic compound like Spice or K2 because it is not chemically unrelated to THC and because it is not non-organic, as the definition of synthetic compounds provides. Even if Δ8-THC is synthetic, it is not a controlled substance, the HIA points out. When Δ8-THC is derived from hemp, including when derived from CBD, it is not a controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

As reported by the Hemp Industry Daily, other prominent hemp advocacy groups have either taken no position on this intoxicating compound or called it a threat to broader adoption of hemp products.

TIGRR report confronts criticism

After the initial warm welcome, the TIGRR independent report with its recommendations to the British prime minister confronted criticism from the industry representatives. The report called for a move of the licensing regime for CBD pharmaceutical research and CBD over-the-counter medicines from the Home Office to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and its executive agency, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) urged the report’s authors to clarify that all products derived from industrial hemp are exempt from the legislation around controlled cannabinoids.

„We do not understand why this report suggests that some CBD products should be moved into Schedule 5 over the counter, so treated in the same way as codeine, for example. We feel this is an unnecessary move to further regulate hemp-derived food products which could hinder industry growth”, said Chair of the CIC’s Hemp Group Jamie Bartley for the Business Cann.

“The report and its advisors demonstrate complete ignorance of the law and the industry as the only medicinal products available in the UK are those made by GW Pharmaceuticals. The CBD industry is a food supplement industry, not a medicinal one.”, commented Steve Oliver, Director of The Canna Consultants.

Also, the industry experts criticized the lack of clarity on how industrial hemp cultivation will be licensed, suggesting it should be through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and not through the Department of Health and Social Care.

The highest French court confirms the CJEU decision

On Wednesday, the highest French court – the Court of Cassation – ruled that the sale of CBD is indeed authorized in France, even if the product comes from another state in the European Union. Eight days after a first decision in the case of the reopening of a shop in Dijon (Côte-d’Or), the court issued a general judgment on the marketing of CBD.

In a judgment “of general scope” made public on June 23, the Court of Cassation sided with the decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) from November 2020. The sale of CBD is legal in France, even if it does not obey the three criteria set by French law, as long as the marketed CBD has been produced in the European Union according to the rules set by the CJEU. As reported by France TV, the ruling brought relief to hundreds of shop owners who nervously awaited this decision.

The highest French court had already rendered the first judgment on June 15 in which it ruled in favor of a Dijon store, which should not have been preventively closed in the summer of 2018 by the authorities for having sold CBD.

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.