Italian Health Ministry Reverses Course On CBD “Narcotic”

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If you are confused about the state of regulation in the EU, don’t feel bad. Everyone is as the rules and regulations do a few 360’s in public in Italy over the course of mere days

As frustrating as the drama is in the EU over the classification of cannabinoids, notably CBD, as a “narcotic,” the soap opera unfolding in Italy in the last few days is almost a welcome bit of humour. Call it the Spaghetti Western of cannabis reform, with a focus on the spaghetti side.

A Brief Timeline of the Canna-Flavoured Dolce Vita Afoot

For those who are confused, here is the brief timeline of events. The humour is clearly seen by reviewing it backwards.

On October 30 last week, the Ministry of Health officially declared that CBD is not a narcotic. 

A mere two days before, the same agency suspended the decree in force previously, with the stated intent of studying whether higher concentrations of CBD impact its supposed “narcotic” effect. Given what went down two days later, it seems the Italians can be efficient at some “studies” when they want to be.

And a mere five days before that, the Ministry of Health had outlawed CBD for the commercial market, singing a song out of the European Commission’s hymn book. But also effectively killing the very same “Cannabis Lite” industry that has continued to flourish in hard Pandemic hit Italy. 

Oops. Funny about that.

The Pharmaceutical Conversation Is Confusing A lot Of The Debate

Here is the first thing to understand. Beyond any muddles about scientific evidence proving efficacy, established pharmaceutical company lobbyists have done their jobs well. Namely confuse the situation, and for their benefit.

Here is one of the biggest culprits.

GW Pharmaceuticals, based in the UK, has sold the story to European regulators that one of its drugs, Epidiolex, is a “narcotic.” Naturally, calling a CBD extract mixed with berry flavoured syrup as such, justified the high price tag along with the exclusion of similar, perhaps more effective tinctures from reaching British patients (see Billy Caldwell). Not to mention a whole bunch of European ones.

Theresa May’s husband would not be so interested in holding the majority of shares of any company that failed to meet earnings expectations after all.

However, the well-placed political shareholders of GW Pharma are not the only reason this conversation has continued to stay so stupid for so long. Many regulators really do not understand the differences between cannabinoids. Much less have apparently ever been exposed to a patient who consumes THC on a regular basis and does not live life on a couch. And by this point, that fault lies in the stars of the cannabis industry itself.

At least in Italy, the Health Ministry did not put off the CBD discussion, much like what happened also last week just across the border in Germany. Not to mention Emmanuel Macron’s continued politically expedient contortions in France. 

That all of this confusion occurred almost simultaneously to what was happening as France accedes to medical utility and German Bundestag failed to move forward on a recreational cannabis reform bill while bemoaning how outdated Prohibition has become, demonstrates clearly how much the entire debate is in flux across the continent. And further, on the totality of the plant itself – not just the parsing of cannabinoids. 

It also clearly signals that the entire conversation is also ramping up a notch across Europe. No matter the short term mixed signaling going on even within the same federal agencies of countries, let alone at the Parliamentary level and certainly across borders.

Big things are happening in Europe on the cannabis front. Be sure to book your tickets to the next International Cannabis Business Conference, landing in Europe again, post-Covid, in 2021.

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