By Emily Ledger
Legislation around CBD, hemp, and cannabis is perhaps as diverse in member states of the European Union as throughout much of the rest of the world. Although the majority of EU countries allow the cultivation of hemp and the production of CBD, there are some that have gone against this generalisation.
France’s CBD Guidelines
Despite being the largest cultivator of industrial hemp in Europe, France currently has some of the strictest restrictions on hemp and cannabis usage. These restrictions include a blanket ban on CBD production and imports. Similarly to the UK, French regulation only permits CBD products to be made from the fibre and seeds of the hemp plant.
In addition, imported products which contain extracts from the whole plant – the flowers and leaves contain the highest concentration of CBD – are also prohibited. On this front, the legislation of France and the UK differ, as the UK permits the import of CBD products. There are some critics of France’s current CBD guidelines, including a European Court Advisor.
What is the Controversy?
In 2014, the owners of CBD products line, Kanavape, were convicted for a criminal offense for using whole plant CBD extract imported from the Czech Republic in their products. The owners of the company Sébastien Béguerie and Antonin Cohen, appealed the conviction and the case has now been referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
We may have received some hint at the way the appeal may go, as one European Court Advisor has given their legal opinion. According to Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev, France’s legislation may contradict current EU law that permits the free movement of goods through member states.
Owner of Kanavape, Antonin Cohen, has said:
“From a personal point of view, this opinion is a real relief. It is very difficult to combat these legal challenges for so long but I have pursued this approach because it is vital to create clear regulations to protect the health of consumers and to support the competitiveness of French and European companies in a global industry that is growing very fast.”
The decision of the court, however, remains unclear as the final decision on the case is not expected until September. Nonetheless, if the opinion of Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev is reflected in the decision, the case could set an important precedent for the future of Europe’s CBD market and relevant legislation.