CBD & Cannabis Cosmetics: What is the legal situation in the EU?

When looking into the market one will soon realize that the number of products containing Cannabis contents is constantly growing, ranging from tea, to soft drinks, chewing gum, even jam, lubricants and much more. In particular, cosmetic products containing CBD have become a hype on its own.

What is CBD?

It is the abbreviation of Cannabidiol that is one of more than 100 reported varieties of cannabinoids found on Cannabis plants. There are lot of effects connected with Cannabis, however, the well-known psychoactive effect is not related to CBD but to Tetrahydrocannabiol (THC).

The origin is crucial

In entry no 306 of Annex II of the Regulation 1223/2009 [1], the following can be found: “All substances listed in Tables I and II of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs signed in New York on 30 March 1961“.

Looking into this Single Convention, the following entry can be found: “Cannabis and Cannabis resin and extracts and tinctures of cannabis”.

Therefore, entry no. 306 is referring to the actual plant, which is in consequence completely prohibited for use in cosmetics. However, CBD and THC themselves are not included in these Tables.

WHO Expert Commitee: Proposals are submitted

In January 2019, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommended the following to the United Nations (UN) [2]:

  • Preparations considered to be pure CBD should not be scheduled.
  • Pure THC shall be added to Schedule I.
  • „Extracts and tinctures“ shall be deleted.

As a further proposal, the entry for the committee suggested a threshold of 0.2% THC for “preparation containing predominately cannabidiol”.

Still a long way to go

The proposal is still under discussion and further outcomes must be certainly awaited.

It can be said that CBD may be used for cosmetic products; however, it shall not be produced from its natural source that is currently considered as narcotic drug. This is well depicted in the CosIng database[3][4]where two entries for CBD established a clear difference between synthetically produced (allowed) and naturally derived (prohibited) CBD.

Despite the social and political acceptance in many countries, it will be interesting to see where the way of CBD products may lead to.


[1] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/de/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32009R1223

[2] https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/UNSG_letter_ECDD41_recommendations_cannabis_24Jan19.pdf?ua=1

[3] https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.details_v2&id=93486

[4] https://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/index.cfm?fuseaction=search.details_v2&id=96287

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