Authorities in France have tried and failed on a pair of high-profile occasions to ban CBD products across the country. The archaic-sounding argument against the hemp-based and low-THC products goes something like this: getting rid of the plant reduces the risk to public health because it ensures people don’t confuse CBD products with THC products. It also helps police in that regard.
Essentially, to make sure people don’t mistake hemp for cannabis, officials simply want to ban both. And a new law enacted this month has moved France’s CBD prohibition plans halfway to full reality.
A new government decree states that the direct sale to consumer of CBD flowers or leaves, either for smoking or drinking in tea, was banned as of the turn of the new year. The new law allows only the growing and industrial and commercial use of hemp. Products that do not contain whole leaves or flowers to smoke or drink will still be allowed.
“The government is demonstrating its absolute ignorance of the subject,” said Yannick Jadot, an environmentalist and politician who represents France in the European Parliament. Jadot added his country’s officials have been “ineffective and dangerous” in developing policies that repress legal cannabis.
Jadot is one of at least a dozen challengers to incumbent Emmanuel Macron in April’s presidential elections. Macron has done little to support legalization during his four-year term in office, with the exception of setting up a public consultation on the plant early last year.
France still has some of the harshest cannabis laws in all of Europe. The plant has been banned federally since 1970, and authorities still don’t allow medicinal use. Most importantly, there’s no distinction in the law between personal use and trafficking.
So while many countries across the continent — like Malta, Germany, Luxembourg and Italy — have legalized cannabis or at least drafted bills to do so, France is going in the opposite direction.
The new law comes just over a year after the European Court of Justice ruled that France could not ban the sale of CBD produced in another EU member country. The court ruled that CBD was not a narcotic, and has neither a “psychotropic effect nor negative effect on human health.”
France also briefly banned CBD back in 2018 while clarifying its federal regulations.