On the 31st December 2021, French authorities presented the nation’s CBD vendors with a very unwanted gift, the banning of the sale of CBD flowers and leaves in all forms.
The industry fought back immediately, with the Union des Proffesionnels du CBD filing an injunction in the courts on January 1st against the new ruling, working through the night of New Year’s Eve to do so. Their argument was that as the EU classified CBD as non-narcotic, and as France is a member state of the EU, CBD should be treated no differently in their country.
On Friday 14th January the French Supreme Court ruled in favour of the CBD industry by temporarily suspending the ban while the Conseil d’État (Council of State) investigated further.
The Conseil d’Etat’s decision reads, “The judge in chambers of the Conseil d’État considers that there is a serious doubt about the legality of this general and absolute prohibition measure because of its disproportionate nature.
”Indeed, it does not appear, at the end of the contradictory investigation and the exchanges which took place during the public hearing, that the flowers and leaves of cannabis sativa L. whose THC content is less than 0.3 per cent would present a degree of harmfulness to health justifying a total and absolute prohibition measure: this threshold is precisely that retained by the contested decree itself to characterize the cannabis plants authorized for cultivation, importation, export and industrial use.”
The French CBD industry, which includes approximately 1800 vendors, celebrated the suspension of the ban. One of the main arguments put forward by the industry when the ban was announced was that CBD flower sales represented the majority of sales in these specialist shops.
Speaking to BusinessCann, Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, of Paris-based cannabis consultancy Augur Associates, said: “This result is great news for all businesses that faced having their livelihoods taken from them by the government actions. But it’s in no way the end of the road. We will have to see how things unfold but I believe the Government will look for another baseless argument. As long as the government wishes to show it is ‘tough’ on drugs” – whatever that means – we can throw out any rational, data, or even legal argument, it won’t make them change their position. Not during an election campaign.”
“cannabis” (except in the expression “cannabis resin”) means any plant of the genus Cannabis or any part of any such plant (by whatever name designated) except that it does not include cannabis resin or any of the following products after separation from the rest of the plant, namely—
(a) mature stalk of any such plant,
(b) fibre produced from mature stalk of any such plant, and
(c) seed of any such plant;]
“cannabis resin” means the separated resin, whether crude or purified, obtained from any plant of the genus Cannabis;
Despite the UK having a CBD industry worth an estimated £690m, the current law means UK farmers who legally grow hemp for the CBD and fibre markets at present have to destroy up to 80% of their crop. In a report entitled Pleasant Lands, campaigners have called on the government to adopt a Swiss-style model which would allow farmers to grow hemp crops with THC levels up to 1%, wirth the ability to extract CBD from the whole plant, not just the stalks and seeds.