A FRENCH court has today overturned the criminal convictions of the two defendants at the centre of the KanaVape case – seven years after they were first charged.
And, the verdict has been welcomed as a boost to the French CBD industry and to the nation’s hemp farmers by the cleared defendants.
In January 2018, Antonin Cohen and Sébastien Béguerie of SAS Catlab – were given a 16-month suspended sentence, and a €10,000 fine, by Marseilles Criminal Court.
The case stretched back to 2014 when the French authorities launched a legal action against the two – the makers of KanaVape e-cigarette, which used a CBD oil made from hemp flowers imported from the Czech Republic.
For The Benefit Of All
The two subsequently appealed to the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal and it referred the matter to the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).
The ECJ was tasked with determining whether CBD is a narcotic, and whether France could prohibit its importation from a fellow member of the European Union under the freedom of movement of goods rules.
In November last year the ECJ ruled that CBD is not a narcotic and that a member state cannot restrict the free movement of CBD products, and that CBD can be derived from the hemp flower.
Earlier today the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal sided with the ECJ and the defendants in the case and cleared them of the charges.
Speaking to BusinessCann after the verdict Mr Cohen, who now runs Harmony CBD and is based in Barcelona, said: “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.
Economic Opportunity For France
“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.”
In a press release Mr Béguerie said he is delighted with the victory and to be ‘finally recognised as an innovative entrepreneur and not as a delinquent’.
“In the wake of this decision I hope that France will seize the tremendous economic opportunity represented by cannabis by breaking out of its ideological posture,” he said.
His lawyer Mr Xavier Pizzaro, who also intervened before the Constitutional Council on behalf of the Union of Professionals of the CBD (UPCBD), hopes that this hearing ‘will make that France will finally start to support cannabis entrepreneurs rather than suing them in vain in court’.