Ask Our Experts: A Legislative Landslide for Cannabis and CBD


Q: From the U.S. House of Representatives passing the MORE Act, to the European Commission ruling on CBD, and the United Nations confirming World Health Organization recommendations for medical uses, what are the upshots from last week’s landmark legislative actions for the legal cannabis industry?


By New Frontier Data staff

A: Last week represented a legislative landslide for the legal cannabis industry worldwide, though the practical effects will vary broadly for now.

To close out the week, the United States House of Representatives on Dec. 4 passed an historic bill to end the federal prohibition on cannabis. Though momentous in its support of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, the action will remain symbolic unless the U.S. Senate takes a dramatic turn from its oppositional stance. The act would effectively legalize cannabis by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leading the way to cooperative federal-state regulation of cannabis programs while stopping short of requiring states to legalize the plant.

Two days earlier, the United Nations (UN) Commission on Narcotic Drugs voted on Dec. 2 to reclassify cannabis from the strict Schedule IV list that categorized it as a dangerous, highly addictive drug (i.e., akin to heroin). While cannabis remains listed as a controlled substance, the action ease previous restrictions on medical uses and research. The move immediately sparked calls for legalization in India and elsewhere.

The same day, the European Commission (EC) revised its earlier position that cannabidiol (CBD) should be treated as a narcotic, a stance that would have effectively forced prohibition of the use of CBD in foods and supplements. Instead, the decision encourages. The reversal instead gives a green light to Europe’s hemp industry, assuring processors and manufacturers that CBD and novel foods including infused edible products can remain available on the EU market.

The EC’s deviation from its preliminary decision – which had been touted as an existential threat to the continent’s nascent CBD industry – is the result of an earlier ruling from the European Court of Justice, which found that France’s CBD ban violated EU law.

The EC’s decision has been met with widespread relief from industry stakeholders, who see it as an end to a flurry of regulatory activity throughout the year that threatened the viability of CBD in Europe, whose industry stakeholders now feel assured that their products will not be banned from the EU market.

“Ostensibly, CBD’s situation in Europe is now secure, and companies seeking novel food authorization from officials can now proceed unmolested,” observes data analyst Trevor Yahn-Grode of New Frontier Data. As the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) stated in welcoming the decision, “[n]ow that CBD can be qualified as food, the EIHA novel food joint application is perfectly set up for achieving safety assessment and standards for our growing industry. We also welcome the vote of the United Nations, which leads to a modern and sound scientific approach regarding cannabis in general.”