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Victory for Kanavape as charges dropped by French court

After seven years of battle, the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal has dropped its charges against Kanavape.  

The Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal has now dismissed all criminal charges against Antonin Cohen, former co-director of KanaVape, for marketing the CBD vaping product. Latham & Watkins secured the victory for Cohen. 

The decision confirmed the landmark ruling made in November 2020 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which said that CBD is not a narcotic due to the fact it “does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health” and that EU Member States may not ban the marketing of CBD when extracted from the whole plant. 

Cohen commented: “You have to take risks in order to make progress on complicated issues. Thanks to my win in this case, the law is changing, for the benefit of all. This will help to protect public health by allowing French citizens access to CBD products that fall within the regulations. 

“It will also improve the French economy: farmers will be able to harvest hemp flower, laboratories will be able to extract CBD, and brands will be able to launch new “Made in France” products. This is an important win, but the work continues. 

“France is hampered by dogmatic and electoral postures that are disconnected from people’s needs. The law prohibits the use of many plants that have been used by humans for thousands of years. My goal is to make some of these natural substances more accessible as they can bring important benefits to people’s lives.”

The Kanavape court case began in 2015 when Cohen and co-director Sébastien Béguerie were prosecuted for breaking French law by selling vapourisers containing CBD oil extracted from the whole cannabis plant. Kanavape, however, said that it legally extracted the CBD in the Czech Republic. In a judgment from the Marseille Criminal Court in early 2018, Cohen was found guilty on several charges of infringement. The case led to the overruling of the initial judgement when a 2018 appeal concluded the ruling contravened the principle of free movement of goods within the EU. 

After the charges were dropped, Latham & Watkins, stated: “As a consequence, France must change its current regulations in order to provide an adequate and proportionate framework for the marketing of CBD extracted from the whole hemp plant. To that end, a draft French Order modifying the present rules has been submitted to the European Commission and is under review.”

Latham & Watkins partner, Eveline Van Keymeulen, stated: “This landmark decision wholeheartedly endorses the CJEU KanaVape ruling and confirms for once and for all that the French CBD ban – and any unproportioned restrictions on the marketing of CBD – is contrary to EU law. I am delighted that my client’s seven-year procedural saga ends today and that justice has been done. 

“The Court hereby sends a clear signal to the French competent authorities not to interpret the KanaVape case law in a minimalist way, and I hope the revised regulations will provide much needed clarity and certainty around the marketing of CBD products in France and Europe.”

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