France’s ban on hemp-based CBD products goes against the EU laws on the free circulation of goods. This is the legal standpoint expressed on Thursday, May 14th 2020, by a counselor to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Were the EU court to act accordingly, there would be a very relevant precedent from now on, and this would affect the CBD industry in Europe substantially. European citizens brought to court for matters related to the hemp business would be able to bring said precedent up and have more leverage to pass such legal provisions in other European countries.
The Court of Justice is expected to express itself on the matter this fall. Most of the times, the court’s ruling goes in accordance with the received advice.
Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev pointed out that EU law on the free movement of goods forbids France or any other European state from being able to restrict the import of CBD from another EU member state, in the cases when said oil is produced by whole hemp plant extraction. Hemp cultivation is legal in France, but the country’s law restricts the plant’s legal uses as far as flowers and biomass go, leaving out only fiber and grain components.
Tanchev noted that in case CBD oil was considered a narcotic drug, it would not fall within the scope of EU laws on the movement of goods. But he objects that this is not the case.
According to the Advocate General, the French justice system needs to take a stance on whether any risk associated with the effects of CBD has been unveiled or researched.
Were the French court to discover the existence of said risks, adopting an alternative measure, like limiting allowed CBD concentration in products, would be more suitable. The reason is that, in such a way, the law would still not disrupt EU regulations on the free circulation of goods.
The case arose with a quarrel in France over the commercialization of a CBD vape by the brand Kanavape, which contained products imported from the Czech Republic.
Kanavape’s former manager and co-director, Antonin Cohen and Sébastien Béguerie, were found guilty of criminal offence by the court of Marseille. The sentence was pronounced on the grounds that the CBD oil in the vape products was a product of whole plant extraction. The case had been redirected to the EU tribunal by the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence in France.
The EU’s Court of Justice interprets EU law to ensure its homogeneous application in all European countries, and takes care of settling legal disputes among national governments and EU institutions.