Cops’ clueless policy on CBD draws rebuke from German association

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A threatened crackdown on CBD sellers by local German police again shows the need for clear – and clearly communicated – rules for the popular hemp compound, the Cannabis Industry Association (BvCW) has warned.

Police in the German city of Essen, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, incorrectly stated that “CBD hemp” is illegal and punishable, warning that violations could bring “imprisonment for sellers not less than one year.”

The “ability to consume and thus the abuse for intoxication purposes” is “obvious,” the law enforcement agency also wrongly suggested.

‘Unnecessary uncertainty’

“Such messages stir up unnecessary uncertainty,” said Jürgen Neumeyer, BvCW managing director. “It is obvious that we finally need a decent legal regulation.”

BvCW said the police statement ignores a ruling in March by Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (BGH) which found the sale of hemp flowers and leaves to end customers is not prohibited in principle. That ruling came as the court annulled charges against a group of Braunschweig hemp tea sellers. Stakeholders saw the decision as paving the way for the sale of food products based on hemp flowers and leaves on the German market.

The police are also apparently unaware of the fact that the European Commission cleared CBD from drug status, designated it as a food, and re-asserted EU free-trade guarantees late last year. Finally, the European Court of Justice ruled last December that CBD should not be considered a narcotic under the meaning of the 1961 UN Single Convention on narcotics.

“The THC levels in CBD hemp flowers are usually so low that intoxication is impossible even when consuming an entire sales unit,” said Stefan Meyer, BvCW President and coordinator of the Association’s CBD department. 

Tax money squandered

“In view of the growing mountains of overtime in the police force, it is incomprehensible to me why so much tax money is being squandered against the growing industrial hemp market,” Meyer added.

Noting that Germany’s Narcotics Act exempts hemp with THC content of 0.2% or less, “Currently, these exceptions are being interpreted in an increasingly restrictive manner, without the law having changed,” BvCW said. “The interpretation of the alleged potential for abuse still has to be legally clarified after the BGH ruling. In the opinion of the BvCW, legal certainty should be clearly and unambiguously achieved by removing industrial hemp from the Narcotics Act (BtMG).”

Several parliamentary groups are already campaigning for changes in the German Narcotics Act, according to BvCW.

Raids and shutdowns have hit hemp and CBD shops all over Europe, usually as a result of misunderstanding about CBD by local law and health officials. Despite CBD having been cleared as a food product by the EU last year, the process of changing individual member state laws and regulations, and communicating information about CBD’s status throughout government agencies, proceeds slowly. German CBD sellers have repeatedly been targeted by local police, often facing criminal charges.

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