Legal momentum gathers for CBD as French court orders review of sales ban

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France’s Cour de Cassation, the nation’s highest appeals court, has returned a case that would have banned the sale of CBD to a lower court, saying its judgment in the case was flawed.

The court Wednesday overturned a ruling that French retailers cannot legally sell CBD, noting a lower appeals court “failed to provide a basis for its decision” and did not consider whether substances seized from one shop owner had been legally produced in another EU member state, which is legal.

Focus of ruling

The Cour de Cassation did not rule whether selling CBD in France was legal or not, but ordered the lower court to issue a new ruling in the case.

In the background of the domestic case in France is a separate EU court case originating in France that resulted in a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice late last year. The EU court ruled that hemp extracts from leaves and flowers and the CBD they contain are not narcotic drugs and may be freely traded among EU member states.

The EU high court ruling eventually led the European Commission to reverse its previous position that hemp should be considered a narcotic in EU states, which has prompted member states to revisit and adjust laws and regulations.

Draft rules afloat

In addition to the question of general laws and regulations for CBD and other products derived from hemp flowers, French officials are also grappling with the details. Draft rules for CBD recently floated would specifically ban the sale of smokable hemp products and loose hemp leaves and flowers, based on “public order,” and “public health” concerns.

While flowers and smokable hemp would be banned under the new regulations, flowers could be used as the basis for CBD and other extracts. Otherwise, the draft rules authorize the cultivation, import, export and industrial and commercial use of all other parts of the hemp plant with less than 0.2% THC, the current EU limit. France previously had only allowed hemp seeds and stalks to be processed.

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