In December 2021, the French government legalized the sale of CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC. It all seemed great until they also banned the sale of hemp flowers and leaves, ultimately leaving oil, edibles, and topicals (processed hemp) legal for sale.
On Thursday, December 30th, the Council of State – the body that advises the government on legislation and acts as a supreme court for administrative justice – ruled that a general and absolute ban on the marketing of the substance in its raw state was “disproportionate,” RFI reports.
CBD flowers and leaves are presented like regular cannabis, generally in the form of a dried green plant ready to be crumbled and smoked.
But unlike traditional cannabis, which contains THC, CBD, which can already be sold in oil or herbal tea, is no longer considered a psychotropic drug by the French justice system, even in its smokable form.
France’s highest court ruled that the sale of CBD in leaf and flower form does not “create a risk to public health” that could justify its ban. “The harmfulness of other molecules present in cannabis flowers and leaves, in particular CBD, has not been established,” it claimed.
The council also argued that CBD has “relaxing properties and anticonvulsant effects, but does not have a psychotropic effect and does not cause dependence,” according to scientific data.
One of the arguments against legalizing hemp flower and leaves was that law enforcement wouldn’t be able to distinguish between plants with or without “narcotic properties.” This would make their jobs infinitely more difficult to crack down on drugs. The Council of State decided that THC levels “could be controlled utilizing rapid tests.”
According to CBD industry representatives, the ruling now makes it possible to launch an economically sustainable hemp industry in France. This is huge because France’s highest appeals court ruled in 2021 that the sale of CBD is not illegal if it has been legally produced in a European member state. So, this most recent decision means France may be the epicenter of Europe’s hemp industry.
In November 2020, the European Court of Justice ruled that the ban on CBD in France, which was authorized in several other European countries, was illegal in the name of the principle of the free movement of goods.
According to the Professional Hemp Association, France has nearly 2,000 CBD shops. The sector’s annual revenue is estimated at around €500 million, or $604,900,000.00 USD, more than half of which comes from hemp flower alone.