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08 July, 2024

The Greek company Hempoil® Natural Products turns to the European Commission


To the European Commission turns the Greek company Hempoil® Natural Products , asking for the harmonization of Cyprus with the European regulations for CBD.

Hempoil® Natural Products, the flagship Greek cannabis brand, the first that introduced CBD products in Greece in 2016, owner of 15 stores in Greece, Cyprus and Spain, is applying to the European Commission for the application in Cyprus of the European legal framework for CBD (Cannabidiol) products.

Hempoil Natural Products EU Commision. Cyprus EU.

Hempoil®’s appeal has already received a file number and has been deemed fit for examination by the Commission, while the European Commission’s response is expected by the end of 2024.

As the European Court of Justice has already ruled in 2020 that “a Member State may not prohibit the marketing of Cannabidiol-CBD legally produced in another Member State”, this decision must be followed by Cyprus. In the same communiqué, “the Court of Justice of the European Union notes that, according to current scientific knowledge, which must be taken into account, the CBD at issue has neither a psychotropic effect nor a harmful effect on human health.

Hempoil®, however, has experienced and is still experiencing an unprecedented situation in Cyprus, where it operates through franchise stores.

From April 2023, its stores are raided by the Cypriot authorities, who confiscate Cannabidiol-CBD products from their shelves as a controlled pharmaceutical substance.

Although announcements and informal briefings by the authorities followed, they further clouded the scene rather than clarifying it: Initially, the Cypriot authorities stated that Cannabidiol-CBD belongs to the category of medicines and has to be distributed only by pharmacies. It was then made known that pharmacies do not sell it either and that the only relevant product they are allowed to sell is the drug Epidiolex*.

The situation in Cyprus remains particularly problematic, with Hempoil® stores currently unable to make any sales, while high value goods remain seized. Cypriot traders are in despair as, while they have opened legal shops and traded legally – always in accordance with European law – products, they have subsequently found themselves being prosecuted and apologised for.

Characteristic of the prevailing ambiguity is that as Hempoil® entrepreneurs and their shops fall victim to the seizures of the authorities one after the other, one of the claims of the police was that “the cannabis in the form of tea that they trade belongs to the Novel Food category”. This happened on 25 May and only a few days later, on 2 June 2023, the relevant list of products of the European Commission was renewed, making it clear that hemp leaves for tea and beverages are “traditional food” and not “novel food”. However, the shop products seized by the Cypriot police as novel food remain seized, now as “medicinal/drug products” – and not as novel food.

At the same time, hundreds of Cypriot consumers who have been using the company’s products since 2016 find themselves in the position of unwittingly using a substance that is “illegal”… Or more correctly a legal substance, which they can buy online freely from any EU country they wish, but they are now unable to buy it from the Cypriot store where they were buying it until recently, as there, and only there in Europe, it was declared illegal.

Christos Botsis

Christos Botsis Hempoil Natural Products

Cypriots invested by following the law and are faced with the authorities of the country violating Community law.

Christos Botsis – Founder and CEO of Hempoil® Natural Products

“We have been innovating since 2016, creating the first company in Greece specializing in the sale of CBD products and having already won eight international awards and distinctions,” says the founder and CEO of Hempoil® Natural Products, Mr. Christos Botsis. Our company operates in four countries: Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Malta, constantly expanding our presence and offering quality CBD products internationally.

“We had to appeal to the Commission to solve the problem. There is a serious issue of harmonisation of Cyprus with European legislation and practice. The country ought to follow the European facts, the European legislation. At the same time, among other things, there are also monopolistic issues in the Cypriot Cannabidiol-CBD market, serious phenomena of unfair competition,” he added.

“The Cyrpiot entrepreneurs with whom we work are dealing with a difficult situation for which they are not responsible. They have invested by following the law and are facing the Cypriot authorities who are in breach of Community law. They are thus led to unbelievable suffering, considerable social, personal and family pressure and painful financial loss”, he said.

“We believe that with the intervention of the European Commission we will be vindicated. And that with the end of this suffering, we will have put another stone in the rationalization of the market for Cannabidiol products across Europe. This time, the winner will be Cyprus and its newly created market, in which we were happy to invest because of our obvious close ties with the country.”

“There is European acquis and case law from 2020, in the case of the French company Canavape, which was vindicated by the Court of Justice of the European Union. That decision has dispelled any shadows that may have existed and led to a blooming of the CBD market throughout Europe, as all EU Member States are obliged to respect it.”

Ilektra Lida Koutra

Ilektra Lida Koutra - Hempoil Natural Products

The Attorney General of Cyprus should act immediately. If necessary, we will go to the European Court of Human Rights.

Ilektra Lida Koutra – Lawyer specialized in Human Rights and Criminal Law

According to lawyer Electra Lida Koutra, who represents the victims before the Commission, “the Cyprus case is a typical violation of EU law, as it has been chiselled in case law with the Kanavape case of the Luxembourg court, so that, in principle, the European Commission is requested to initiate the infringement procedure”.

Our legal team has secured the consultation of two of the most qualified lawyers in their field. From the UK, Mr Robert Jappie, a partner at Fieldfisher, has advised on the regulatory breach.

Robert Jappie

Robert Jappie Hempoil Natural Products

EU regulations will take precedent on domestic considerations and it does not appear as if the Cypriot government has taken its international obligations into account when formulating its current position.

Robert JappiePartner in Fieldfisher’s Regulatory Group. Specialising in Life Sciences Regulation for the UK and Europe

Relief should be sought immediately through the Cypriot courts to remedy this situation. If the Cypriot court will not grant the required relief, then there may be recourse to the CJEU, where support for the application will almost certainly be found in light of the Kanavape decision.

Alexandros Clerides

Alexandros Clerides Hempoil Natural products. Cyprus.

Of utmost importance is what is mentioned in the decision of the European Commission that deals exclusively with these issues, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and specifically as stated in the report entitled Cannabis Laws in Europe, Questions and answers for policymaking, in June 2023.

Alexandros Clerides – Head of Ligitigation – Partner

From Cyprus, Mr Alexandros Clerides has also consulted on the Report to the European Commission, presenting in detail the issues in the Cypriot market.

Products such as those containing CBD for which there is no recognised risk of use in all EU Member States and no indication of risk, then these products cannot be banned. In conclusion, it is recalled from the decision itself that CBD/THC products which are legally produced in another European country and for which there is no scientific study as to any risk to human health from the use of these products, should be allowed by all countries within the European Union.

In these circumstances, the position of the Republic of Cyprus at this stage with regard to these products is in contradiction with the European Law, the existing opinions and reports and is in fact completely unjustified as it is not based on any scientific or legal opinion. The result of this attitude is that the Republic of Cyprus is causing harm to businesses and individuals within the Republic of Cyprus who wish to market, possess and use them.

The Greek company Hempoil® Natural Products , asking for the harmonization of Cyprus with the European regulations on CBD.

According to Ms Koutra, “The violation of EU law is so obvious that we consider it imperative to request the Attorney General of Cyprus to act immediately and either halt the prosecution of businessmen and the seizure of products that are legally circulating throughout the rest of Europe, or, at least, to suspend the progress of the arbitrary prosecutions until the proceedings before the European Commission are completed.

Otherwise, it would not only be an impermissible interference by Cyprus in entrepreneurship and market freedom within the Union, which is a violation of Articles 34 and 35 of the EU Founding Treaty, as well as provisions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights”, but a deliberate violation, which is of particular gravity”.

Ms Koutra, who has represented hundreds of applicants before the ECHR, believes that “aspects of this case also constitute arbitrary interference in the enjoyment of rights protected by the ECHR, for which we do not rule out an appeal to the ECHR, if Cyprus insists on the path it has taken.

We hope that respect for EU law will prevail so that the problems created by Cyprus’ attitude so far, which on the issue of cannabis isolates it and makes it an “island” in relation to the rest of Europe, will soon be solved.

This is supported by the ban on the marketing in Cyprus of industrial hemp produced in Cyprus. The European Commission will also deal with this issue.

It doesn’t take a lawyer to understand that when a person who has a licence to cultivate and produce in Cyprus has no right to sell it in Cyprus but only in the other EU countries, the current system is outdated.”

*Epidiolex (FDA-approved prescription CBD used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC).)

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Post by: Hempoil®
Hempoil® is the first cannabis company in Greece, since 2016.

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