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Court in France Tosses Out Ban on Hemp Flower

CBD in France is now legal, and hemp flower too. This was the most recent court ruling.

French outlet RFI reports that On 30 December 2021, the French government legalized the sale of hemp-derived products containing CBD with 0.3 percent THC or less, after the country’s ban on CBD fell apart a year earlier. However—potentially to the dismay of D8 and hemp flower lovers—the government also banned the sale of hemp flower, citing its supposed psychotropic effects.

A high court in France overturned the ban and ruled that CBD is not harmful. There are other legitimate uses of flower than smoking. 

On December 29, France’s Council of State, the body that advises the government on legislation and acts as a type of Supreme Court, ruled that a general and absolute ban on the marketing of the substance in its raw state was “disproportionate.” They also didn’t find solid evidence of harm from CBD. If anything, there’s evidence of the contrary.

“The harmfulness of other molecules present in cannabis flowers and leaves, in particular CBD, has not been established,” the council said. The council added that evidence suggests CBD has “relaxing properties and anticonvulsant effects, but does not have a psychotropic effect and does not cause dependence.”

In other words, the court ruled that hemp flower should not automatically be categorized as psychotropic—rather it’s far from it. You can make your own teas or infuse it with oil. Other options include vaporizing flowers or making tinctures at home.

Concerns Over Distinguishing Cannabis

Although the court has granted flower permission, there were concerns about how the government intends to separate hemp and THC-rich cannabis. These two substances are almost indistinguishable from one another. The Council of State considered that the THC level “could be controlled by means of rapid tests.”

The European Court of Justice ruled that the prohibition on CBD in France (which was already legal in many other European countries) was unlawful based on principle of free trade of goods.

The Court of Cassation in France, the highest court of the French judiciary, decided last June that CBD legallly produced in the European Union can legally be sold in France.

RFI reported that France now has around 2,000 CBD shops according to the SPC professional hemp association. In addition, the industry’s annual turnover is estimated at around €500 million, or $534.1 million USD. The flower industry accounts for more than half these sales. 

Experts in the country say that the court’s latest ruling gives the green light for an “economically sustainable” hemp industry that can withstand the test of time.

Hemp Today reports that French hemp could bring €1.5 ($1.6B USD) to €2.5 billion ($2.6B USD) in annual turnover and result in 18,000-20,000 jobs, according to a French Senate group.

The French gray market for CBD was about €200 million ($214M USD) in 2021, and is expected to reach roughly €300 million ($321M USD) this year, UIVEC, a French extracts trade group, estimated. UIVEC estimates that approximately 300 to 500 hectares of cannabis were planted for CBD production in 2022.

The rules are expected to roll out in early 2023 as the legislation moves forward, and the government is expected to declare hemp compatible with the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, develop a strategy for the industry, and set specific regulations.