HomeHealthOfficinal plants decree, possible misunderstandings about hemp

Officinal plants decree, possible misunderstandings about hemp

On 12.1.22 the State-Regions Conference approved the valuable scheme of the inter-ministerial decree on medicinal plants and botanical ingredients which in a single passage risks creating misunderstandings on the legitimacy of the use of hemp leaves and flowers.

There is a real risk that public officials may incur in abuses of office, if the enigmatic text of the DM - a source of secondary law - is interpreted in contrast with the EU rules in force. Before engaging in administrative disputes, it is good to clarify.

Officinal plants decree, possible misunderstandings about hemp

The draft decree interministerial refers to the 'cultivation of cannabis plants for the production of leaves and inflorescences or active substances for medicinal use'as'governed by the decree of the President of the Republic 9 October 1990, n. 309, which prohibits its cultivation without the required authorization from the Ministry of Health. '

On the other hand, ‘the cultivation of Cannabis sativa L. of the varieties allowed for the production of seeds and seed derivatives is carried out in accordance with the law 2 December 2016, n. 242, containing provisions for the promotion of the cultivation and agro-industrial chain of hemp'. The DM thus seems to neglect - as has already been noted (1) - the legitimate use of other parts of the plant for different purposes.

Cannabis Sativa L., an industrial plant

La Cannabis sativa L. - in the varieties indicated on the Common Catalog of Varieties of Agricultural Plant Species (other than those for medicinal use to which the DM refers, in the first passage mentioned above) - is qualified as'agricultural product' is 'industrial plant'. And it is therefore subject, among other things, to the aid provided for in the Common Agricultural Policy. (2) The use of all its parts and various derivatives is permitted in the EU for various purposes:

- cosmetics. The Cos.Ing. refers to extracts, CBD and CBG, flowers and leaves, oil extracted from flowers, leaves and stems, root extract, buds. In addition to hemp seed oil, (3)

- food. The Cannabis Sativa L. is often referred to as superfoods, due to the high protein content and the balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

novel food and free movement of goods

Natural CBD is the subject of numerous applications for marketing authorization as an ingredient in foods and / or food supplements pursuant to reg. EU 2283/2015 on Novel Food. On 19.11.20 the European Court of Justice - between the ballets of the European Commission and the blackberries of EFSA - affirmed the 'ban on banning' the commercialization of CBD.

Nutritional Supplements based on CBD are also regularly distributed in the internal market following the notification in Hungary, by the writer, of a dozen labels of MEDI Hemp products. And the number of food products is much greater food supplement with CBD currently marketed in the UK, pending assessments from the Food Standards Agency. (4)

Provisional conclusions

The inter-ministerial decree on medicinal plants and botanical ingredients is a very important guiding document for the correct application of European rules still exposed to wide margins of uncertainty, with particular regard to health claim relating to the so-called botanicals. (5)

It is appropriate however, clear the field of any possible misunderstanding regarding the legitimate use of the Cannabis Sativa L. - in the varieties authorized in the EU as an agricultural product - in all its parts, including the leaves and inflorescences a I use herbal tea whose free circulation certainly cannot be restricted 'by decree'. (6)

Dario Dongo


(1) Dario Dongo. Medicinal plants and botanical ingredients, the decree scheme runs aground on hemp flowers and leaves. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.6.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/piante-officinali-e-ingredienti-botanici-lo-schema-di-decreto-si-incaglia-su-fiori-e-foglie-di-canapa

(2) Dario Dongo. Industrial hemp and circular economy. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.8.19, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/canapa-industriale-ed-economia-circolare

(3) Dario Dongo. Hemp and cannabinoids, green light for the use of CBG in cosmetics in the EU. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.12.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/canapa-e-cannabinoidi-via-libera-all-utilizzo-del-cbg-nei-cosmetici-in-ue

(4) Dario Dongo. CBD, the novel food dossiers being examined by EFSA. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 15.9.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/cbd-i-dossier-novel-food-all-esame-di-efsa

(5) Dario Dongo. Health claims on botanicals, the Court of Justice clarifies. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 13.10.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/health-claims-sui-botanicals-la-corte-di-giustizia-fa-chiarezza

(6) The ruling of the Court of Justice cited in note 5 also finds extensive application to industrial hemp 'herbal tea', widely distributed among other things in Italy

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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