EUROPEAN COURT FINALLY AUTHORISES CBD IN FRANCE

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Last week the EU Court of Justice overruled the French ban on cannabidiol (CBD) arguing that CBD is not a narcotic and had “no psychotropic effect or harmful effect on health”.  This long-awaited decision is a big win for the CBD market in France and is significant for the future of CBD in the European Union – especially given that this ruling will undoubtedly influence the European Commission’s current review on whether to classify CBD as a narcotic rather than a novel food. The Kanavape case In July 2014, the French government launched a first offensive against CBD, bringing several people involved in the cannabidiol trade to court. This was notably the case of Sébastien Beguerie and Antonin Cohen who, in December 2014, launched Kanavape, a CBD electronic cigarette containing less than 0.2% THC. They were sentenced in January 2018 by the Marseille Criminal Court to 18 and 15 months suspended jail and a € 10,000 fine. The two men appealed and, to everyone’s surprise, in October 2018, the Aix Court of Appeal refused to rule and let the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decide on the possible incompatibility of European and French rights, the first one being more permissive than the second one[1]. Kannavape used a CBD oil made in the Czech Republic extracted from the plant in its entirety (leaves and flowers included) and sold it in France under the principle of free movement of goods in the internal market of the European Union. However, the French ministerial decree of 2014 only authorized the use of seeds and fibers. The Aix Court of Appeal deferred to the Court of Justice of the European Union[2] on account of the fact that any restriction on the free movement of goods within the EU can only be justified…

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