The end of 2022 saw another breakthrough for the CBD Industry, with the ban on the sale of CBD flower in France being overturned by the Council of State.
On 29 December 2022, the French government authorised the sale and consumption of CBD flower and leaves, stating that as it is not a risk to public health, there is no need to prohibit it.
“The harmfulness of other molecules present in cannabis flowers and leaves, in particular CBD, has not been established,” the Council argued and added that according to scientific data, CBD has “relaxing properties and anticonvulsant effects, but does not have a psychotropic effect and does not cause dependence.”
When challenged by the argument that the ban could potentially compromise the war against drugs and make it impossible for law enforcement to distinguish between plants with and without psychoactive effects, the Council stated that rapid tests could help officers quickly identify the level of THC in a product, discerning whether it is legal.
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The 2021 ban
After the European Court of Justice declared in November 2020 that the prohibition on CBD in France was unlawful under the principle of free movement of goods, the French Court of cassation ruled in June 2021 that any CBD manufactured legally in the EU could be sold in France.
On 30 December 2021, France legalised the sale of CBD-containing products with a THC content of no more than 0.3%. While this was good news, they unfortunately, took an additional step, banning importing, exporting, selling and using CBD flower and leaves, which are similar to regular cannabis in form and appearance. However, unlike traditional cannabis, CBD is no longer regarded as a psychotropic.
The ban came into effect in 2021 after only two small studies suggested that the risk of CBD is unknown, and its use could be connected to unemployment. The many other studies regarding the potential benefits of the cannabinoid were not taken into consideration, and the ruling was directly at odds with the judgment made by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in 2020, which declared that CBD is not a drug and therefore no EU Member State may prohibit the marketing of CBD.
France lifts ban on CBD flower
Following a lengthy legal battle, the Council of State made the decision to overturn the ban on CBD flower, boosting the CBD industry and providing users with a badly needed product.
Furthermore, Judges have also abolished the requirement that hemp farmers enter a contract with buyers prior to the start of production.
Although France has some of the strictest cannabis laws in the EU, the Council's decision represents a significant advancement for the French CBD market and shows how far the country has come in the last few years.
This is an important development for the industry as a whole, since the majority of industrial hemp produced in Europe comes from France, and it is the third-largest producer of hemp in the world.
By overturning this unreasonable ban, the French government has opened the door for a booming market that has been constrained in recent years. In 2020, the French CBD market was estimated at $156 million and the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service estimate that the sale of CBD products will increase by 244% in the next decade.
Hopefully, by experiencing the benefits the CBD market will undoubtedly bring to the country, France will relax even more rules and embrace the cannabidiol industry.