By / February 16, 2021

Cannabis: parliamentarians call for rapid relaxation of CBD regulations

A parliamentary report, published on Wednesday 10 February, calls for France, Europe’s leading hemp producer, to move away from a practically absurd situation, and offer more flexible regulations on “wellness cannabis” (or CBD), thus seizing the opportunity to develop this fashionable market.

Shops selling CBD products (foodstuffs, oils, cosmetics, e-cigarettes, herbal teas, flowers for smoking or inhaling, etc.), to which relaxing virtues are attributed, are flourishing throughout the country: there are nearly 400 such shops in France today. The means there are almost four times as many CBD shops as there was two years ago, according to the Hemp Professional Union (SPC).

Impossible to obtain CBD supplies in France

However, these traders may be liable to prosecution and cannot obtain their CBD supplies from French hemp producers. Used in textiles and construction, in particular, under the French 1990 Narcotics Order, the exploitation of the leaves and flowers of the plant which naturally contains CBD, the non-psychotropic molecule of hemp is prohibited.

The authors deplore the fact that CBD is “the collateral victim of the essentially safe approach to cannabis in our country,” therefore CBD suffers from its “narcotic” cannabis cousin’s image (with a high THC content, the psychotropic molecule).

Overcoming the absurd CBD situation

In order to overcome the CBD situation, to lift the brake on the economic development of the sector, and to “guarantee the consumer total safety” on products derived from CBD, the parliamentary information mission on the use of cannabis formulated twenty proposals in its report published on Wednesday 10 February.

In particular, the authors recommend “authorising the cultivation, import, export, and use of all parts of the hemp plant for industrial and commercial purposes, including the flower.”

The mission also wants the threshold of 0% THC in finished products to be abolished and another maximum threshold to be defined for hemp crops. “Ideally between 0.6%” and 1% for overseas territories located in warmer latitudes.”

In contrast to several European countries, France only allows the cultivation and marketing of hemp fibers and seeds, provided that their THC content is less than 0.2%. Finished products (foodstuffs, etc.) must be free of THC, and the use of other derived substances like THC is banned.

What will the government do with it?

The French regulation against CBD was ruled illegal on 19 November 2020 by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). In the name of the free movement of goods, CBD cannot be prohibited in the EU, unless the risk to public health “appears to be sufficiently established.”

The ECJ also ruled that CBD has no psychotropic or harmful effect on health and that it cannot be regarded as a narcotic drug or medicine. This removes the ‘risk to public health’ escape clause that France might have been able to use.

“This parliamentary report on CBD is a step in the right direction. France, which was in a particularly damaging situation, is going to be able to gain a foothold in this new sector and try to make up the ground it has lost so far,” Aurélien Delecroix, president of the French Hemp Trade Union (SPC), told AFP.

A fruitful CBD and hemp market

According to the union, the French market, which is still young compared to those of Great Britain, the United States, or Switzerland, is between 150 to 200 million euros today. It could reach much further, though; a billion euros by 2023 is possible if the legal uncertainty surrounding it is removed.

The ball is now in the court of the Mildeca (Interministerial Mission for the Fight against Drugs and Addictive Behaviour), which is studying “how to take into account the judgment of the CJEU”, says the parliamentary report on CBD.

“The problem is not that it is moving fast, but that it is moving in the right direction” stresses Ludovic Mendes, the LREM deputy from Moselle, thematic rapporteur on “well-being” CBD.

“We know that Mildeca is not necessarily in line with some of our proposals, such as the revision of THC rates or the exploitation of the flower. It can always find something blocking. We are very vigilant, that’s why we are making proposals,” he adds, considering that in the current state of the legislation, it is “entrepreneurial freedom that is being called into question.”


(Featured image by Rick Proctor via Unsplash)

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