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Competent and Connected Clusters Unfold the Hemp Industry Potential for the European Bioeconomy

Newsletter – Issue #3 April 2023

The Competent and Connected Clusters Unfold the Hemp Industry Potential for the European Bioeconomy (HempCluB) project is an EU COSME project bringing together 7 clusters and association to unlock the potential of hemp by creating EU value chains for biobased applications and new business opportunities for primary producers and chemical companies.

A new interactive map to connect EU operators in the hemp value chain 
The HempClub project released the first special interactive interface map dedicated to EU hemp organizations operating at different steps of the value chain, with the aim of acting as a point of reference for companies and other organizations that are searching for a partner or collaborations in the sector, including members-clusters relationship.
Organizations can be searched by filtering for country, position in the value chain (e.g. primary producers and farmers, producers of intermediates or final products, R&D organizations, consulting services, distribution & retail, clusters/associations) and application sector (e.g. cosmetic, pharmaceutical and CBD products, food and feed, recreational, fibers and textile, construction, hemp farming). Clusters and cluster members are also covered by the map.
Circular bioeconomy conference: enabling sustainability and resilience 

The third working group of the HempClub project was organized on February 15, 2023 in collaboration with the University of Milano Bicocca aiming to demonstrate how circular bioeconomy models can respond to the challenges of today's world, including the energy crisis, raw material shortages and climate change. During the conference, concrete case studies were presented in the form of funded projects that, through research and innovation, aim to overcome these challenges, and companies that, by pursuing sustainability and circularity in their productions, have developed resilient business models to the moments of crisis faced in recent years. The conference also included a focus on hemp aiming to demonstrate its potential in the production of bio-based and circular products. Counting 83 registered participants, the event was a great opportunity to create networking within the research community of the EU bio-based value chains!
Bioeconomy Business Exchange 13-15 February 2023
10 visiting organizations, including SMEs, technological centers and clusters, took part in the three-days exchange organized in Milan by Consorzio Italbiotec. The exchange, focusing on bioeconomy in general, was a great opportunity for participants to create new collaboration opportunities, learn more about the potential of hemp in the EU bio-based value chains and meet local stakeholders. Participants had indeed the opportunity to visits Senini Group, a company operating in the building sector with a production line dedicated to hemp bricks; Vegea, working in the bio-based textile sector; Prigen, developing innovative cosmetic formulations with hyaluronic acids.
Italy - Ireland Exchange 20-22 March 2023  
SPRING, one of the HempClub partner, organized an exchange with the Irish Bioeconomy Foundation. It was a great opportunity to create networking between the members of the two organizations and build a common path for future development!
Indica Sativa Trade Fair Business Exchange 13-15 April 2023  

The HempClub project took part to the Indica Sativa Trada Fair in Bologna with a small delegation of three international participants that had the opportunity to know the local reality of the cannabis and hemp sector in Italy. During the fair, one of our partners - Federcanapa - represented the industrial hemp sector for the first time. On this occasion, an interesting workshop took place, which showed the different value chains and applications of industrial hemp and the financing opportunities for this sector. The international delegation had also the opportunity to interact with local stakeholder including: Azienda Agraria Sperimentale Stuard (Parma, Italy) that showed them their variety of products and their pilot plant to macerate hemp for textile use and presented the Caterpillar project, which aims to diversify production and increase the profitability of this crop; La Banca della Calce (Bologna, Italy) that showed them how hemp can be used in the construction and building sector and the important properties and applications that lime has in this sector and Canapa Eco (Bologna, Italy) that showed them how hemp can be used for the production of various products (clothing, bags and accessories, cosmetics and detergents).
Internationalization and networking workshops

Between January and April 2023, CZECHEMP organized four webinars on internationalization and networking aiming to open the dialogue on the main challenges and opportunities of industrial hemp, as well as stimulate the co-creation of market solutions based on the properties of hemp and proposals for overcoming regulatory gaps. The workshops included a first session of training by an industrial expert and a second part of open discussion within the participants. The topics of the workshops were:
  • 24th January: Technical hemp growing & processing (Hana Gabrielová, CzecHemp)
  • 31st January: Hemp seed and flower utilization in food products (Miloš Beran, Prague Food Research Insitute)
  • 28th March: Medical cannabis value chain (Václav Trojan, St. Anna Hospital Brno)
  • 18th April: Hemp use for cosmetics & future aplications (Petr Kaštánek, University of Chemistry and Technology Prague)

 Barcelona Cannabis Festival
With nineteen years of experience, the Barcelona Cannabis Festival  Spannabis is considered one of most famous cannabis festival in Europe, which  usually brings together a huge number of producers, researchers and entrepreneurs associated with horticulture, cultivation and cannabis products. Barcelona’s largest cannabis fair and world cannabis conference took place on 10-12 March 2023, at the modern Fira de Cornellá exhibition centre, where hundreds of international exhibitors, thousands of professionals and visitors from the cannabis sector had the opportunity to attend conferences, to visit stands, to consult information on services and products, to exchange opinions, to create new contacts and search for potential clients.
World Cannabis Conference 
Together with Spannabis, the ninth edition of the World Cannabis Conference explored  the different dimensions of this controversial plant through thematic blocks in forum format, and also specific conferences featured by scientific, medical and political personalities as well as relevant agents of the cannabis sector.
Future Cannabis Strategies Europe 25-26 January 2023 
The conference brought together strategic business leaders from the European Consumer-Facing Cannabis market and explored the CBD industry including Cannabis Products & Devices, Beverages, Cosmetics & Nutraceuticals, together with solution providers.
The panel discussion focused on the challenges associated with creating competitive and innovative products, assessing the best strategies to achieve commercial success and analysed a new niche in the market: vapes and CBD oils, while interactive roundtable sessions offered the opportunity to share best practice and develop solutions to critical challenges facing the industry as a whole. It has been also emphasized the importance of educating both the trade and consumers.
 Cannabis Capital 2023: Industry Market Report 
New Frontier Data is the premier data, analytics, and technology firm specializing in the global cannabis industry, delivering solutions that enable investors, operators, advertisers, brands, researchers, and policymakers to assess, understand, engage and transact with the cannabis industry and its consumers.
The report shows that in 2021, the US cannabis industry received over $12 billion in capital raises across all sectors. However, in 2022, economic headwinds and dampened expectations for federal action resulted in a decrease in North American capital raises to $4 billion. The report highlights that the United States continues to attract the majority of investor capital and drove the majority of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2022, mainly in the fields of cultivation and retail, which are the leading sectors. 
Although North America remains the epi-center of the global cannabis economy, Germany’s recent announcement of a parliamentary agreement to legalize the plant for adult use has positioned the country to take Europe’s lead in cannabis liberalization. Implementation of adult-use sales in the country will likely expedite the transition of other European countries from restrictive medical-use programs to full adult-use markets.
It is definitely a complex report, rich in information and original data, which you should not miss, especially since you can download it for free!
 2nd International Congress on Clinical Trials on Cannabis
The event took place on 15th-16th of February 2023, in Hilton London Canary Wharf, South Quay Square, Marsh Wall, London, UK  and focused on the therapeutic implications of cannabinoids, clinical experience and last progress in their application and uses.
The congress included a number of oral communications organized in seven communication  sessions, respectively: Prescribing Medical Cannabis (Session I); Emerging Clinical Applications I (Session II); Leading Industry (Session III); Regulatory (Session IV); Non RCT Methodologies (Session V); Emerging clinical applications II (Session VI)  and UK in focus (Session VII), where a number of 17 communication  were presented by professionals from 12 countries. The original research (10 communications) were presented in two special sessions (one on each day of congress), while the round table (Session VIII) was dedicated to clinicians and researchers who shared their experience and commented on the challenges they face in different fields of activity, such as chronic pain, psychiatry, neurology and palliative care.
The Cannabis Summit
The Cannabis Summit is a premium B2B conference for industry leaders and professional service providers that focuses on the areas that matter in the evolving European cannabis market
First summit of this year took place in Dublin on 25th of February 2023 and it was extremely informative on the legal, policy & scientific levels, putting together a world-class array of speakers and the Irish and International entrepreneurs. A Cannabis review was set up in the First Panel, followed up by discussion of the The European Legal & Regulatory Environment 2023 (Second Panel) and How Europe can learn from North America policy rights and wrongs (Third panel). Some of the famous legal experts, brightest policy minds and industry's most influential voices convening in the RDS have discussed openly about the global cannabis industry, but also about the Ireland's strategic position, looking to have a smart, reasonable and compassionate approach to cannabis.
News in European regulation of industrial hemp 
Since January 1, 2023 two important changes have been in force in European Union:
1.    new THC limit for industrial crop: increased from 0,2% up to 0,3% as in the United States. This limit is in force not only for the crop on the field but also for the import export of hemp biomass.
2.    THC limits in hemp food Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 (‘maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs’) has set for the first time all over Europe a maximum of THC levels of 3.0 mg/kg for dry products such as flour, proteins, seeds, snacks and 7.5 mg/kg for hemp seed oil, plus probably a 50% tolerance due to uncertainty factor. The industry is benefiting from having certainly around-limit allowances, because the new limits are mandatory for all Member States.
A sentence against a restrictive decree in Italy
The administrative Court of Lazio Region granted the appeal of various hemp companies and associations against the restrictions imposed to hemp use from a governmental Decree of May 2022 and forced the Italian Health Ministry to cancel this restriction.
The Decree in question was on Officinal Plants and admitted for the first time the species Cannabis sativa L. as officinal, but with a special comma stating that only the production of seeds and seed derivates is ruled from the industrial hemp law, meanwhile the production from leaves or flowers is under the drug
law and requires special authorization from the Health Ministry. The Court, after have asked the Health Ministry to exhibit proofs on unsafety of this parts of the plant, sentenced that this comma was anti-constitutional and against European laws on industrial hemp.
Temporary rules for CBD as food supplement in France 
French authorities have approved in March 2023 temporary guidelines which allow CBD products to be declared as food supplements and remain on the market pending authorization under the EU’s food safety program. CBD products can continue to be sold this year if they meet criteria of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which the French reference in the temporary guidelines. EFSA, which is now in the process of considering applications from EU producers of CBD as a new (or “novel”) food, requires food products to contain less than 1 microgram per kilogram of body weight of THC; any amount above that level is considered a contaminant and is therefore prohibited from being included in any product formulations.
Also, under the temporary guidelines set separately by the French, the CBD content in individual products may not be more than 20%, and daily dosage is limited to 50 milligrams. The temporary framework in France places responsibility for meeting those requirements on CBD distributors. 
HHC banned in Austria
Austria has decided, as Finland, to ban HHC (hexahydrocannabinol). The Austrian Ministry of Health decided on 23 March 2023 to include HHC in the New Ordinance on Psychoactive Substances (NPSV), since there is still a lack of scientific data on the potential consequences of its consumption on human health,. This regulation prohibits the production and trade of synthetically produced HHC products, but possession and consumption remain unpunished.
We remember that HHC has a molecular structure very similar to THC, but its effects are still largely unknown, also because there are two isomers of HHC and often they are variously mixed in the production process. Like THC and CBD, HHC can be naturally produced by the cannabis plant and arises through the process of natural degradation of THC, although this results in very residual amounts, making the compound used in the various HHC products available on the market is obtained by laboratory processes of hydrogenation of cannabis extracts, thus making it a semi-synthetic product.

Next planned exchanges
  • Topic: Create valuable networking opportunities in the agrifood sector by bringing together different operators of the value chain around Europe and by participating in an international recognized food fair that will take place in Milan, the "Tutto food" fair.
  • Duration: 3 working days
  • Where: Milan (Italy)
  • Host: Consorzio Italbiotec
  • Activities: lectures, plant visits, workshops, B2B
  • Lump sum for each participant: €450
CannaPortugal 2023

CannaPortugal 2023 - II International Hemp and Cannabis Expo will be held in Lisboa on 19-20 May 2023.
Expo Internacional CannaPortugal 2023 aims to add value to the cannabis industry, in general, and hemp, in particular, contributing to the consolidation of companies and economic growth in countries, without forgetting the positive impact that all cannabis activity has on Humanity and on the Planet.

Co-funded by the COSME programme of the European Union
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