In terms of CBD legislation, the authorities will have done everything for us. From the shadow zone (or, should we say, complete penumbra) from the beginnings, to the admission of the legality of the molecule, through the often aborted attempts to ban certain products, even if it means annoying the European Commission by the way. In 2022, the legal framework is certainly still vague, but we are still starting to see it a little clearer. So much the better because the number of sellers and consumers of cannabidiol continues to grow, with an ever greater enthusiasm and more than interesting economic opportunities. Rather than looking back over more than three years (since the 2018 boom) of twisting legal saga, here are the five key points to understand everything about the legal situation of CBD in France in 2021.
In this section:
1. CBD is 100% legal in France
In the beginning, there was nothing.
This statement, to say the least historic, can however be cheerfully reused regarding the fate reserved for cannabidiol by French law. There's still not much, since the CBD molecule is neither addictive, nor psychoactive, nor responsible for known notorious side effects. However, it is not really for these reasons that French law does not mention CBD, but rather because the molecule is still little known. The amalgamation has therefore long been made between THC and cannabis itself or, as named in theOf the 22 August 1990 applying article R. 5132-86 of the public health code for cannabis, “Cannabis Sativa L.”.
With the craze around CBD, the MILDECA (Interministerial mission for the fight against drugs and addictive behavior) had to provide details: " CBD is not a narcotic ". A CBD product must, however, respect certain rules including being extracted from an authorized variety of hemp and not exceeding, for the moment, the maximum THC level of 0,20%.
2. The authorized THC level should increase to 0,3% in 2023
We devoted a full article to the announcement of the news: the European Parliament expressed itself in favor of a increase of the authorized THC level from 0,2% to 0,3%. As is often the case in the bureaucratic maze of the European Union (EU), this decision is part of a long and complex process involving first the submission of the proposal and then the favorable vote of the European Parliament. These steps have already been validated since the amendment has been approved on October 23, 2020. It remains for MEPs, the European Commission and member states to negotiate together to see the final decision best applied (or not) in 2023.
For both consumers and sellers of CBD, this decision means finally align on the one hand at the European level, then with the biggest competitors on the market (China and the United States). Ultimately, this should allow more varieties of CBD hemp to be authorized and, as a direct consequence, to obtain a more competitive market, with more and better products.
3. Medical cannabis is coming slowly (but surely?)
Long refractory to therapeutic cannabis, the French Government has agreed to carry out a first large-scale experiment on human patients in order to perhaps, eventually, authorize the prescription of cannabis (CBD and / or THC) for therapeutic purposes. The kickoff of this test was given by the Minister of Solidarity and Health, Olivier Véran, on March 26, 2021 at the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital. For two and a half years, 3000 patients will take part in the study carried out jointly by 215 voluntary structures selected by the ANSM, the National Agency for the Safety of Medicines and Health Products. The first results should be communicated from September 2023. If they are conclusive, the door would then be open to cannabis for medical purposes in France, which seems likely given the conclusive results obtained by other countries that have carried out similar studies and have since authorized therapeutic cannabis (Canada, USA, Switzerland, Israel in particular).
4. The sale of CBD flowers and herbal teas in the gray area
According to French law, only fibers and seeds authorized varieties of hemp can be exploited commercially, that is, sold, bought and used freely. This by definition excludes the leaves and flowers, yet the parts richest in cannabinoids, including the much sought after CBD. This rule remains valid, in the eyes of French law, even if the legal THC rate is respected. This is where the main gray area remains since European legislation does not make a distinction between the different parts of the plant, therefore allowing leaves and flowers.
Technically, European law prevails : a member state cannot prohibit the marketing of a product authorized at European level, in which case the country contravenes the free movement of people and goods constituting the very essence of the Union. France has only one card to play: that of protection of public health. Pending a decision at European level, the legality or not of the sale of CBD flowers and infusions therefore remains a question mark.
5. France has an interest in aligning itself with the EU
The question of the protection of public health is obviously valid since general well-being must take precedence over any commercial approach. However, if the side effects of cannabis should not be neglected, CBD does not cause any known side effects to date. Standing up to the EU, France is thus self-sanctioning economically, failing to exploit a buoyant market and delaying the development of quality CBD products produced in France. A paradox when we know that the country is the leading European hemp producer.