Clarification Released on Hemp Leaves in the European Union

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Hemp leaves, when separated from the flower, are now considered traditional foods by the European Union.

On Friday, June 2nd, 2023, a European Commission officially revised the Novel Food Catalogue to remove hemp leaves from the classification of a “novel food”, four years after the original decision to classify them as such (1). A “novel food” is defined as food not consumed in Europe before 1997 and needs to be approved by the European Food Safety Authority before being sold (2). Now considered a “traditional food,” hemp leaves can be legally sold in European Union (EU) countries as tea and herbal infusions (1,2).

“A history of consumption in the EU has also been demonstrated for the water infusion of hemp leaves (when not accompanied by the flowering and fruiting tops) consumed as such or as part of herbal infusions. Such use(s) is (are) therefore not novel,” the updated Novel Food Catalogue now states (1).


Last year, the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)–a membership organization comprised of mostly farmers, processors, and manufacturers that provides guidance on hemp-related decision-making– had submitted arguments that hemp leaves had been consumed in Europe before 1997 (3).

“I am delighted that the initiative we started in 2022 as EIHA has resulted in such a positive outcome,” President of EIHA, Daniel Kruse said (1). “This is a significant achievement for our sector, clearly demonstrating that a collective industry effort is essential for normalising the hemp plant and its products.”

“These changes will bring much-needed legal certainty, eliminating any doubts surrounding the open marketing of hemp seed-derived food and leaves for water infusion throughout Europe,” said EIHA’s managing director, Lorenza Romanese (1). “This will generate revenue for farmers and business operators.”


  1. Sinclair, S. Hemp tea no longer classed as novel food under EU law (accessed Jun 13, 2023).
  2. Clarification on legality of hemp leaves in EU should boost tea market (accessed Jun 13, 2023).
  3. (accessed Jun 13, 2023).