new outlet with the evolution of regulations?

In July, a draft decree on the use of the entire hemp plant, leading to major changes in the sector and the markets, saw the light of day. Pending validation by the European Commission, it could come into force in early 2022 with the key to a new outlet for farmers in a more structured sector.

“From 4,000 ha in 1990 to 20,000 ha in 2021, the hemp industry is developing in France ”, began Alexis Verniau, regional development engineer for Aura-Paca at Terre Inovia, during a conference at the Tech & Bio trade fair on September 21. And regulatory changes are in the process of creating a real attraction for hemp, in particular due to the cannabidiol Where CBD, a molecule with a soothing effect, not falling under the legislation of narcotics such as Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Ludovic Rachou, president of the Union of Industrialists for the Valorization of Hemp Extracts, evokes “a market estimated at 700 million euros for CBD-based products from the first year in the event of regulatory changes, with growth of the order of 100% for dietary supplements with CBD. “

For the development of this attractive market, everything lies in an evolution of French regulations with the arrival of a new decree dated July 20, 2021. It replaces the decree of August 22, 1990, prohibiting the use of sheets and hemp flowers. In fact, the marketing of all derived products, made from hemp leaves or flowers, and therefore the whole plant, was also prohibited, in particular products, for example food, based on CBD.

A new decree authorizing the use of the whole plant

The new decree comes therefore modify the market. It has been notified to the European Commission, which must give its opinion leading to a final decree in France at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. “The draft decree provides that the authorization of cultivation, import, export and use industrial and commercial hemp is extended, under certain conditions, to all parts of the hemp plant, ”explains the government on its website.

(© Interchanvre)

More generally, this decree will allow, again according to the government, the establishment of “a global regulatory framework” in order to authorize “a secure development in France the hemp agricultural sector as well as economic activities linked to production of hemp extracts and the marketing of products that incorporate them […]. “Note that to produce hemp, it will be necessary to contract” which can lead to ubiquitous situations, “said Ludovic Rachou, who speaks of regulatory vagueness and a structuring industry. In fact, the issue revolves around the THC content, even if “to divert a field of hemp, you would have to smoke it whole!” He exclaims.

Limit distortions of European competition

According to the regulations, hemp must have a THC content less than 0.2% in France. However, the level of CBD in the plant is positively correlated with the level of THC, leading in certain European countries to “chemical treatments to lower the level of THC in the plant”, observes Ludovic Rachou. In addition, in Italy, the legal rate is 0.6% of THC, in the plant, while in Switzerland, it is 0.1%. Looms on the horizon of distortions of competition that Europe will have to face. “It is very likely that the rate will be between 0.2 and 0.3% in the future,” comments Ludovic Rachou. As for the extraction of CBD, the regulatory framework is not yet known but it will be impossible to do this in your garage because you have to separate the CBD from the THC ”. But the hemp market isn’t just CBD. Thus, the sector through fiber clearly aims to “compete with cotton”, according to Ludovic Rachou, who recalls that hemp was replaced by nylon at another time, with the loss of know-how. “Hemp oil is not very competitive. The seed, rich in proteins, faces strong competition from quinoa or chickpeas and here again the THC content, with regulatory discussions, will have an impact on its use (debate on analysis methods and margin of error) ” , he observes. The major stake therefore remains the valorization of fiber and CBD with in the background, the question of THC.

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