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France ends ban on sale of CBD flowers

Home » France ends ban on sale of CBD flowers

Following a legal battle that has lasted almost a year, the French Council of State (Conseil d’État) has now cancelled its ban on the sale of CBD flowers in the country after it was suspended in 2022.

France initially implemented article R. 5132-86 of the French Public Health Code on December 30, 2021. The decree regulates hemp products including imports and exports, cultivation, sales and commercial use. 

This was largely welcomed as a move that gave a new certainty to the industry – but came with the shocking blow that sales of CBD flower would be banned. In January 2022, industry bodies then mobilised to obtain a suspension of the ban.

Read more: Production and cultivation of medical cannabis now lawful in France

Organisations including The Syndicat du Chanvre (The Professional Hemp Union), L630, the Union des Professionnels du CBD and others, said that the decree banning the sale of CBD flowers would put the entire CBD sector at a disadvantage and would deprive consumers of a product which they need.

As of Thursday December 29, 2022, the Litigation Section of the Council of State has now taken the decision to cancel the ban on the sale and consumption of raw CBD hemp flowers and leaves.

Read more: Italy passes decree that could put CBD farmers at risk of jail

Additionally, judges have also canceled the obligation for hemp farmers to enter into a contract with a buyer before the start of production. 

The French Association of Cannabinoid Producers (AFPC), which represents nearly 300 hemp producers in France, defends a model based on an organic cultivation of the plant in order to to build a sustainable future for a quality French CBD industry, in the interest of producers, retailers and consumers.

President of the AFPC, Piotrowski François Guillaume, commented: “As the representative of more than 300 farms involved in the production of active hemp, the AFPC welcomes the decision of the Council, which will allow all the players in the French CBD sector, which currently has more of 30,000 jobs, to develop their activities serenely.

“The AFPC will continue, for its part, its work of exchange and cooperation with the public authorities, deploring the inaction of the traditional interprofessions of hemp on all the files relating to hemp with active ingredients, in order to develop a appropriate regulatory framework, allowing the development of a strong and prosperous French industry.”

The ban was initially made on health grounds following the publication of two small studies suggesting the dangers of CBD were unknown and linking its use to unemployment. However, these findings were in direct opposition to the 2020 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which ruled that CBD is not a narcotic and EU Member States may not ban the marketing of CBD when extracted from the whole plant. 

The decree was also in direct contradiction to a ruling made by France’s Constitutional Council on the definition of a narcotic. The ruling declared that a substance must be both toxic and addictive to be classed as a narcotic – a definition which CBD would not fall under according to the CJEU ruling.

Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, CEO of Paris-based cannabis consulting firm, Augur Associates, has also welcomed the good news, however, he highlights that France has now “just made it back to where we should have been in 2018.” 

Jeanroy told Cannabis Wealth: “There is still much to do. We need to work on and implement a regulation favourable to sustainably developing the cultivation, extraction, processing and distribution chains of qualitative wellness CBD products to consumers.

“The catalogue of available varieties needs to become broader and more accessible, and the THC limits raised to 1%.

“But before all, I think we need to stay strongly careful to curb the desire of some actors with short-term interest; to limit CBD products to the CBD molecule, for example. Or that wish to implement rules regarding the alimentary products, that will de facto exclude everyone but actors with the most financial means.

“However, the industry must continue to take the lead in regulatory innovation and can not solely rely on the judiciary. Political will and an administrative conscientisation that the wrong path has been followed for long enough must come to pass if France ought to remain a European leader in hemp.

“All these topics have been explored since 2019 by Augur Associates’ white paper on hemp wellness produced for the french Syndicat Professionnel du Chanvre (SPC).”

CEO of French Swiss Hemp, Éric Juilliat, who launched a petition against the ban which collected more than 40,000 signatures, stated: “The Council of State annulled the decree concerning the prohibition of the sale of hemp flower. Thank you to everyone who helped lift this ban in order to finally allow the development of an entire sector.

“I also think of all the anonymous people who reacted to the petition I launched in early January 2022. Thank you all.”

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