New Era for Hemp Flower in France

Stephen Andrews
04 Jan 2023

The French government maintained an active ban on hemp flower on the basis that it was psychotropic. However, the country's high court has now overturned that ban, ruling that CBD has not been proven harmful and that there are legitimate uses beyond smoking.

A government ban on hemp flower in France was finally tossed away by the Council of State. As a type of Supreme Court, the Council of State is the body that advises the government on legislation and acts. 

The Council of State ruled that a general and absolute ban on the marketing of hemp in its raw form was "disproportionate." The council remarked that no solid evidence had been found that CBD causes harm. Besides smoking, hemp flower can be used as in homemade tincture or tea, or infused as oil

The French government legalised sales of hemp-derived products back in December 2021. As per regulations, CBD products must not contain more than 0.3 per cent of THC. But the ban on flower remained in place until the recent court ruling. 

"The harmfulness of other molecules present in cannabis flowers and leaves, in particular CBD, has not been established," the council said. The statement adds that CBD has "relaxing properties and anticonvulsant effects, but does not have a psychotropic effect and does not cause dependence." 

It is still unknown how the French government plans to distinguish hemp from marijuana, which continues to be illegal. France has some of the harshest cannabis laws in Western Europe, while it also has the highest number of cannabis users per capita across the continent. 

The European Court of Justice ruled in November 2020 that the ban on CBD in France, a substance already legal in many other European countries at the time, was not aligned with the principle of free movement of goods and was, therefore, illegal. 

In 2021, the highest court in the French judiciary, The Court of Cassation, ruled that any CBD product legally manufactured within the European Union could be lawfully sold in France. 

This has paved the way for CBD in France. The country currently has around 2,000 CBD shops. The industry's annual turnover is estimated to be approximately €500 million (£440 million; $534 million USD). Over half of that money comes from flower. 

The ruling from the Council of State to disregard the ban on hemp flower signals a new era for a more economically sustainable hemp flower industry in France. 

The French government now needs to adopt a strategy for fully legal hemp in the country. That strategy has to be compatible with the EU's Common Agriculture Policy. The ultimate goal would be to build a billion-euro worth industry that will generate thousands of new positions on the job market. 

Stephen Andrews