FRANCE’S highest court has ruled that CBD – including CBD flowers – are legal in the country.
The decision referenced last year’s KanaVape judgement which ruled the French authorities had acted unlawfully in prosecuting two businessmen who imported CBD flowers from the Czech Republic in 2014 – as CBD is ‘not a narcotic’.
Although The Court of Cassation went on to say that the hemp or CBD products must originate from a fellow member state of the European Union.
In 2019 the owner of the Foxseeds CBD store received a two-month suspended prison sentence in relation to the sale of ‘flowering cannabis tops containing trace amounts of THC’.
Free Movement Of Goods
However the Court of Cessation has now ruled that the lower court had not established whether the substances seized had been legally produced in another Member State of the European Union, and rejected its decision.
The ruling has been broadly welcomed – with some caveats – by the French cannabis industry.
Patrice Spinosi, a lawyer at the Court of Cassation with previous experience in CBD cases, told Newsweed: “This judgment is important, because it definitely retains in our law that, from the moment a CBD product has been legally produced in another State of the European Union, then it cannot be subject to a qualification of narcotics. No prosecutor would dare go against this decision.”
Lawyer Ingrid Metton, who has been involved in CBD cases since 2014, said: “The Court of Cassation says that if the product is legally manufactured in a European state, with trace amounts of THC, the product cannot be qualified as a narcotic product, even if it is flowers.”
Yann Bisiou, a lecturer at the University of Montpellier and a specialist in drug law, said: “As the Court of Cassation is the highest judicial body in the country, its decision is binding. There is not a prosecutor who would dare to go against this decision.”
Trace Levels of THC?
However, one question remains – that of ‘trace’ levels of THC, which was not defined by the Court of Cassation. “It’s the next battle,” said Ms Metton. Who went on to say the precise levels will have to be determined by case law or the government.
This ruling comes as there are political moves to ban CBD flowers by President Macron’s ruling En Marche party, as Newsweed revealed in May.
“It’s a snub for the government!” insists Aurélien Delecroix, the president of the Professional hemp trade union.
“The Court of Cassation ratifies the legality of all products, including the flower. The judicial and European authorities say to the government: ‘You cannot continue on this path there’. So if they do, it’s because they do not understand anything about the subject,” he added.
However, sourcing products exclusively from the EU will be a challenge for the industry with most CBD flowers coming from Switzerland, the United States, and Italy.
Most CBD extracts also come from the US or Switzerland, with other supplies sourced from a number of EU member countries, including; Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic.
In the KanaVape case The European Court of Justice ruled that the provisions on the free movement of goods applied to the CBD, since the CBD at issue in the main proceedings could not be regarded as a ‘narcotic drug’.