CBD Flowers

French CBD Flowers

A ban on the sale of CBD flowers and leaves in France has been temporarily overturned, less than a month after it was introduced by the government.

The lights are green again for CBD FLOWERS...

The industry is celebrating after Government efforts to outlaw the sale of CBD flowers were suspended by the country's highest court...

“Our victory is historic! Once again, the government policy is seen as contrary to the law, to our fundamental principles and values.”

‘Disproportionate Measure’

They asked the court to annul the government decision arguing it created an ‘economic emergency’ with many of the hundreds of CBD stores saying almost three-quarters of their income is derived from flower sales.

The court ‘temporarily suspended’ the ban, with a statement saying: “The judge in chambers of the Council of State considers that there is 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 % would present a degree of harmfulness to health justifying a total and absolute prohibition measure.”

It concluded: “While waiting for the Council of State to rule definitively on the merits of the legality of the contested decree, the judge in chambers temporarily suspends the contested ban.”

French CBD decree suspended by Council of State...

CBD flowers can be sold again...

The French Council of State has suspended the decree banning the sale of CBD flowers.

The French Council of State (Conseil d’État) has declared that the ban on the sale of CBD flowers will be suspended.

The decision follows direct action by CBD industry bodies which mobilised to obtain a suspension of the new ban.

Although farmers no longer have to destroy their crops and extracts can be sold – small shops would be largely impacted and the European Industrial Hemp Association has highlighted the impact it will have on the CBD leaf market.

The ban, made on health grounds following the publication of two small studies suggesting the dangers of CBD were unknown and linking its use to unemployment, is in opposition to the 2020 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

It ruled that CBD is not a narcotic and EU Member States may not ban the marketing of CBD when extracted from the whole plant.

The December 31 ban on flower sales was accompanied by two pieces of positive news with French farmers now able to extract CBD from the whole plant, and the permitted THC content rising from 0.2% to 0.3%.

“The lights are green again for CBD flower” as the development is welcomed by the industry...

Good News For CBD Industry After France’s Highest Court Suspends Government Ban On Flowers.

France implemented article R. 5132-86 of the French Public Health Code on December 30, 2021. The decree regulates hemp products including imports and exports, cultivation, sales and commercial use.

This was largely welcomed as a move that gave a new certainty to the industry – but came with the shocking blow that CBD flower sales would be banned.

With flower accounting for almost three-quarters of sales this looks set to free the French CBD industry which believes it has the potential to surpass sales of €1bn within a few years.

The Government ban was announced on New Year’s Eve and within 24 hours a legal challenge was launched to have the decree dismissed.

On Friday, January 14, France’s highest court – the Council of State led by Judge Mrs Von Coester – listened to arguments from the industry through Hemp Professional Syndicate (SPC) and the Union of CBD Professionals (UPCBD).

Preserves The Industry

Whilst the ruling is provisional and based on a ‘disproportionate’ act by the Government the court sill has to rule on the substance of the decree.

It has nevertheless been warmly received by the industry which believes it indicates a favourable attitude of the court in the case.

Writing on Twitter Yann Bisiou, a specialist in drug law, and legal consultant to the UPCBD, said: “A very nice decision that preserves the sector by allowing the cultivation of #cannabis light AND the marketing of the #CBD flowers and derivatives.”

He had earlier recounted how the UPCBD executives ‘worked on New Year’s Eve and lodged its appeal with the Council of State on January 1.

Speaking at the January 14, court hearing Aurélien Delecroix, of the SPC, told the court the industry’s currently valued at up to €400m with the potential to reach €1bn ‘in a mature market’.

Representing the Government at that hearing was the MILDECA, the Ministry of Health, which argued French law only allows for the sale of CBD extracts, whilst contending that CBD is psychoactive.

Further objections included arguments that as CBD flower is often smoked and could be mistaken for THC flowers creating problems of ‘public order’.

KanaVape Precedent

The latest court case for the French CBD industry chimes with the KanaVape case which rumbled on for six years before being determined in the industry’s favour.

This had seen the French government argue that CBD is a narcotic only for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to overturn this decision and rule CBD is not narcotic.

This opened the doors for the French industry to import and sell product from across the European Union under the free movement of goods rules which apply to the 28 member states.

As for what happens next? With an Election looming and President Macron wishing to remain a tough stance on drugs there may well be further political manoeuvres, although the authorities can only challenge the ECJ decision if they prove that CBD is not safe and can be viewed a narcotic.

Not The End Of The Road

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.”

CBD leaves and flowers can be sold again

The Council of State on Monday suspended the government decree prohibiting the sale of hemp flower and leaf loaded with CBD, the non-psychotropic molecule of cannabis.

The highest administrative court had been seized by various actors in the sector wishing to obtain the emergency suspension of a decree issued by the government on December 30 and which prohibits the sale and consumption of hemp flowers containing cannabidiol (CBD).

In its order, the Council of State considered that it “does not follow from the instruction that hemp flowers and leaves with a THC content not greater than 0.30% would be harmful to health justifying a general and absolute ban on their sale to consumers and their consumption”.

A “provisional” suspension

The Council of State specified in a press release that the suspension applies “provisionally” while waiting for the authority “to rule definitively on the merits on the legality of the contested decree”.

The State will have to pay the total sum of 13,000 euros to the thirteen applicant companies. “For us it was a thorn in the side, we were desperate and it called into question the whole sector. The horizon is clearing but everything remains to be done”, rejoiced Aurélien Delecroix, president of the hemp union, one of the requesting parties.

In November 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union thus ruled illegal the banning of CBD in France, authorized in several other European countries, in the name of the principle of free movement of goods.

European justice considered that it had “no harmful effect on health” and could not be considered a narcotic, unlike its twin molecule, THC, which can be found on the black market and which has psychotropic effects.

The Cour de cassation, the highest court in the French judiciary, followed suit, considering in June that any CBD legally produced in the EU could be sold in France.

CBD industry bodies, including The Syndicat du Chanvre (The Professional Hemp Union), L630, the Union des Professionnels du CBD and others, have said that the decree, banning the sale of CBD flowers, would put the entire CBD sector at a disadvantage and would deprive consumers of a product which they need.

Éric Juilliat, CEO of French Swiss Hemp, launched a petition against the decree which has collected nearly 40,000 signatures.

Speaking to Cannabis Wealth, he commented: “While waiting for the Council of State to rule definitively on the merits of the legality of the contested decree, the judge in chambers temporarily suspends the contested ban.

And the State is condemned to pay 1000 euros to each party. A slap for Gérald Darmanin, the Minister of the Interior and the Interministerial Mission for the Fight against Drugs and Addictive Behaviors (Mildeca) caught in the act of legal inconsistency and ideological amalgamation.

“We have just won the first battle, but the war is still long.

“We have to organize a whole network, in order to be consistent with our State.

I wanted to thank all those who participated in the petition because it added to the fight of lawyers, unions and jurists who pleaded before the Council of State.

“My friends, let us all be united for the organization of this new sector.”

The decree is also in direct contradiction to a new ruling made by France’s Constitutional Council on the definition of a narcotic. The ruling declared that a substance must be both toxic and addictive to be classed as a narcotic – a definition which CBD would not fall under according to the CJEU ruling.

Speaking to Cannabis Wealth, Benjamin-Alexandre Jeanroy, co-founder and CEO at Paris-based Augur Associates, commented: “This is not the end of it but it is a step in the right direction.

“It is still a provisional judgment, so, it could take up to four or five months for a final decision. What is good is that in the meanwhile, people can get back to business – it’s definitely a win, but it’s not the end.

“But, there’s another option – they could decide to wait for the final decision and put the issue back under the carpet for after the elections.

“If we wanted to have something smart coming out of it this could be an excellent occasion to create a fairly agile and light system of distribution licenses – we could build upon the existing ecosystem and structure it and regulate it.

“That would be great but I don’t think that is what’s going to happen.

“In this game, you’re taking the wins when they come, because it’s never a “long fleuve tranquille” as we say in French – a long tranquil river – it is never like this. A win is always welcome and it’s great for small shops and small producers that want to sell to direct consumers. Prohibition itself would be quite hard to enforce.

“We have seen that they have tried to do it in 2018 – closing the shops – so we do know that a lot of people change their website server to outside of France and a lot of smaller shops took the flowers out from shops, some closed.

“But hopefully it will create a bit more stability for the upcoming months. But we’re still at the mercy of another political ruling whether coming from France or coming from Europeans institutions since France is at the head of the Council of Europe.”