CBD and Cannabis Laws in France
The French Government have backed a policy to release a public survey, in order to understand what the public’s view on recreational cannabis use in the country is.
The plan, supported by French MPS, is to set up an online questionnaire in order to understand public opinion on the use of the drug recreationally. It is expected to have 5 or 6 questions and to be available for a month, through a government website. The plan is then to publish these results in March or April. It is also understood that these results would have an impact on the legalisation of medical cannabis within the country.
Up until this point, French laws surrounding cannabis and CBD have been strict, and controversial. The French Government has enforced regulations on CBD and Cannabis that have been stricter than the laws of the EU itself. Despite its title as the largest hemp cultivating country in Europe, French laws on CBD have prohibited CBD that has been extracted from the whole plant.
The French law only permitted CBD that had been extracted from the seeds or fibre of a hemp plant. As these elements of the plant contain very little CBD, extraction was extremely limited. In 2014, the company Kanavape was prosecuted in France for selling and marketing products that contained CBD extracted from the whole plant.
After this prosecution, Kanavape appealed to the CJEU (Court of Justice for the European Union). In November of 2020, the CJEU ruled that ban on this product, and subsequent prosecution of Kanavape, went against EU law. The reason for this ruling was two fold. The court ruled that as this law did not prevent synthetic CBD production, it was not an appropriate way of consistently monitoring CBD use and sales within the country. Moreover, it stated that the French guidelines were contradictory to other EU member states, which went against EU rulings on the free movement of goods.
The change in regulations in France surrounding CBD is not the only positive change for the Cannabis Industry to take place within the country. The French Minister of Health, Olivier Veran, signed a decree in October 2020 regarding medical cannabis. The proposal is a pilot scheme, running for 6 months with around 3000 patients who suffer from chronic pain, epilepsy or other conditions. These patients would be supplied with free medical cannabis. This scheme will be incredibly closely monitored, and patients will be receiving set amounts of products approved by the National Medical Safety Agency in France (NMSA). Medical cannabis is not yet readily available in France, but if the results of this trial are successful, it seems to be a step in a positive direction.
The change in French law regarding CBD extraction, and the new pilot scheme, seem to have contributed to the initialisation of the government survey. France is believed to have the highest rate of cannabis consumption in Europe, with cannabis consumption occurring in not only big cities (as it was a decade ago) but within the rural areas too. Despite the current illegality of recreational cannabis use, the popularity of the drug amongst French citizens has clearly been noted by French MPs.
Although it appears that the French are still a long way from fully legalising Cannabis in their country, it adds another positive shift in French Cannabis for those in the industry.