If the most recent court ruling in the country is upheld, the sale and use of hemp flowers, as well as CBD, will be legalized in France.
According to the French news station RFI, the French government authorized the sale of hemp-derived products containing THC of 0.3% or less on December 30, 2021, after the country’s CBD restriction was lifted a year earlier. However, catching the D8 by surprise and to their dismay, the government also outlawed the selling of hemp flowers, emphasizing its alleged psychoactive effects.
However, a high court in France lifted that prohibition after finding that CBD hasn’t been proven hazardous and that hemp flowers have beneficial use beyond smoking. On December 29, France’s Council of State, which serves as a sort of Supreme Court and advises the France government on law, declared that a blanket prohibition on the marketing of the material in its raw form was “disproportionate.” Furthermore, they found no conclusive proof that CBD was harmful. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary.
The council stated that it had not been proven that other chemicals found in cannabis buds and leaves, particularly CBD, were dangerous. According to the research, CBD has “anticonvulsant effects and relaxing qualities, but doesn’t have a psychoactive effect or cause addiction,” the council added.
The court decided that hemp flower is not a psychoactive substance. In fact, it is far from it. Asides from smoking hemp flowers, it can also be taken as a handmade tea or infused oil. Other options include flower-based vaporizers or homemade tinctures.
However, even with the latest court decision legalizing hemp flowers, questions have been raised about how the government intends to distinguish THC-rich cannabis from hemp. According to the Council of State, the solution is using rapid tests.
Based on the idea of the free movement of products, the European Court of Justice determined in November 2020 that France’s prohibition of CBD, which was permitted in several other European nations, was unconstitutional. The Court of Cassation, France’s highest court, then decided in June 2017 that any CBD lawfully grown in the European Union could be sold in France.
As stated by the professional hemp association (SPC), there are already about 2,000 CBD businesses in France. A further estimate places the industry’s yearly revenue at about $534.1 million or €500 million. In fact, flowers alone account for more than 50% of those revenues.
According to national experts, the court’s most recent decision clears the way for an “economically sustainable” hemp business that can endure the test of time. Hemp Today, a news outlet, also published that a French Senate group strongly believes that French hemp may generate an annual turnover of €1.5 ($1.6B) to €2.5 ($2.6B) and create 18,000–20,000 employment.
According to UIVEC, a French extracts trade organization, the gray market for CBD in France was predicted to be worth €200 million ($214 million) in 2021 and is anticipated to be worth €300 million ($321 million) this year. According to UIVEC, 300 and 500 hectares of hemp were planted for CBD-producing buds in 2022.
Is cannabis legal in France? This is a question you would want to ask yourself if you consider visiting the country soon. Regrettably, France continues to lag behind other countries in cannabis legalization and tolerance, despite cannabis acceptance and legality increasing globally. Despite having the greatest per-capita cannabis use in Europe, marijuana is still illegal for recreational use in France. The country is also noted for having one of the strictest cannabis regulations in Western Europe.
Even so, there has been some development in recent years. President Macron’s administration announced new regulations in 2020 that will substitute a one-time fine for prospective prison sentences. This legal change was viewed as a type of decriminalization because it was made to lower the number of court cases involving cannabis possession. Anyone who received a cannabis possession fine, however, would have the fine recorded on their criminal record. As a result, despite lighter penalties for possession, cannabis remains banned in France.
While a big part of the Western world has approved cannabis use for medicinal purposes, France did not legalize medical cannabis until March of 2022. A regulation passed by the French government earlier last year has made it legal for medical cannabis to be grown in the country and for an industry to develop around it. On March 1, 2022, the decree became law; nevertheless, bureaucrats still need to implement the new regulation completely.
The new regulation has laid down the requirements and steps for exclusively producing marijuana for medical purposes. With these developments, it is anticipated that France’s Code of Public Health will be amended to permit the thorough medical authorization of the production, cultivation, manufacture, export, import, transport, possession, and use of cannabis and its derivatives.
The law was issued two years after France’s first medicinal cannabis trials were announced. However, a pilot project didn’t start until March 2021. The experiment, overseen by The National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products (ANSM), involves 3000 people with various severe medical conditions, such as epilepsy and chronic pain. In the upcoming months, ANSM will also oversee the development of the medicinal cannabis supply chain.
As the legislation advances, court rulings are anticipated to take effect in early 2023. The government is also expected to declare hemp compliant with the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, create an industry plan, and establish specific regulations. The Council of State overturning the government’s earlier prohibition on hemp flowers seems to be a positive step towards full cannabis legalization in France.
Despite their strict and somewhat severe cannabis legislation, France is the third-largest producer worldwide and the largest grower of industrial hemp in Europe. France has been growing industrial hemp for nearly 200 years, with the nation cultivating hemp on more than 175,000 hectares.