THE French government is pressing ahead with moves to outlaw the sale of CBD flowers despite recent decisions to the contrary by its own domestic – and Europe’s – highest courts.
During the first half of 2021 President Macron’s ruling En Marche party has been looking at the how it will respond to last year’s KanaVape ruling.
To quickly re-cap, in November last year, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), ruled that France had acted unlawfully in prosecuting two businessmen who imported CBD extracted from Czech hemp flowers; ruling, in the process, that CBD is ‘not a narcotic’.
And, last month France’s highest court The Court of Cassation ruled that CBD – including CBD flowers – are legal in the country as long as they originated from a fellow member state of the European Union.
Now, France has unveiled draft proposals which will regulate all parts of the hemp plant whilst also prohibiting parts of it to consumers.
No CBD Flowers
The draft regulations authorise industrial activities from all parts of hemp, and therefore permit the extraction of cannabidiol (CBD).
However, the go on to say the sale to consumers of ‘flowers or raw leaves under all their forms, alone or in a mixture with other ingredients, in particular as smoking products, herbal teas or potpourris, their possession by consumers and their consumption’ is prohibited.
This will effectively mean that only farmers and those in the early stages of the supply chain will be able to touch hemp flowers and leaves.
In its ruling the CJEU dismissed France’s earlier arguments that the CBD flower ban related to ‘public health reasons’ and in order to pursue this new tack the French Government has signified ‘reasons of public policy’.
These new proposals will modify the decree of August 22, 1990, which governs the cultivation of hemp in France. This has become obsolete since the judgment of the CJEU. The draft new laws are open for consultation until October 21, 2021.
Unrest in CBD Community
Naturally, the new proposals have been met with some opposition.
David Aran, owner of CBD’eau, which has over 100 stores in France, said. “I’m not going to let it go!. The share of flowers is significant. This represents 60% of sales in our stores. If we ban the sale of flowers, many shops will go out of business.”
Will consumers who are used to consuming their CBD in a joint or herbal tea shift to oils and other finished products? “I do not think so,” he added. “The people who buy the oils are rather elderly people, with health problems.”
Aurélien Bernard, Founder of Newsweed, said: “Despite last year’s KanaVape decision the French government is maintaining its hard line stance on cannabis – even for CBD flowers.
“CBD sales represent at least €100m a year, with flowers around 70-80% of this. There are around 1,000 physical CBD stores – and maybe as many online.
“However, the interdiction is likely not to happen. The only goal of the government is to make themselves look tough in the run-up until the next Election, and there is little chance that any legislation will be passed before next May.
“Even if it is approved by the French parliament than the European Union will be allowed to comment on the proposal – a delay which will take at least a further three months – and in that time French businesses will highlight the KanaVape ruling to both the European Commission and the French authorities.”
French companies are able to make representations directly to the European Commission, if for example the rules could create obstacles to their activities.
For example, because the measure creates discrimination between domestic and imported products, because it is excessively heavy, or it does not comply with EU law, he went on to say.