On February 4th, the European Union (EU) General Directorate for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs added cannabidiol (CBD) “from the extract or tincture or resin of cannabis” as a legal cosmetic ingredient to its CosIng guidelines.
CosIng is a database of cosmetic regulations that expressly provides for permitted and illegal ingredients and defines their special purposes and functions.
This latest revision of CosIng follows the most recent landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), according to which CBD extracted from the entire hemp plant is not a narcotic in the sense of the UN Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. and should therefore be traded freely between EU member states.
Up until this revision of the CosIng guidelines, only synthetic CBD was expressly permitted as a cosmetic ingredient in the EU database. Now the regulation stipulates that herbal CBD can perform the functions of anti-sebum, antioxidant, skin conditioner and skin protectant.
This regulatory change is another promising step in the development of a unified regulatory framework for the sale of CBD cosmetics (and other categories of CBD products) in the EU.
Although CosIng is not legally binding, this database serves as a guideline for EU member states when adopting national regulations for cosmetic products. The aim is to harmonize the national cosmetics laws of the EU in order to facilitate the free movement of goods within the EU member states.
Similar to the US states, however, the EU member states have passed their own CBD laws and regulations that are not necessarily in line with CosIng or those implemented by other member states.
For example, some countries only allow the sale of CBD cosmetics that are THC free and derived from seeds or fibers within their borders. while others took a milder approach and allowed up to 1% of the THC in their finished CBD products. To further complicate matters, each country has its own manufacturing, labeling and marketing requirements.
This patchwork of Member State regulations is forcing manufacturers and distributors of CBD products to adhere to a range of regulations in every country where these products are lawfully sold. As a result, it is almost impossible for these companies to trade their products freely within the EU due to the multitude of often contradicting regulations of the EU member states.
Such a harmonization should be imminent, however, as the ECJ ruling, unlike CosIng, is binding for all EU member states. This means that EU governments opposing the sale and marketing of CBD cosmetics will have to change their laws and regulations.
Of course, such legislative changes will not happen overnight. Still, the ECJ ruling and recent regulatory changes to CosIng represent significant steps toward creating a more competitive European CBD market that may even facilitate the dismantling of international trade barriers.