Spanish judge leans on ECJ ruling in CBD case that acquits shop owner

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A Spanish judge cited the epoch-changing decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last year in acquitting a Valencia shop owner of charges related to the sale of CBD.

Defense lawyer Joan Bertomeu, of the Brotsanbert law firm of Valencia, said the decision in the case against his client marks the first time that a ruling refers to the decision of the ECJ last year that hemp-derived CBD should not be considered a narcotic, and that the compound may be freely traded among EU members states. 

“This ruling is very important because, contrary to what the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office and the Medicines Agency hold, it is evident that the hemp flower, with a low THC content and prevalence of CBD, cannot be considered narcotic because it does not produce an effect and, therefore, it cannot be considered criminally taxable,” Bertomeu said.

‘Preventive crackdown’

The ECJ ruling last November also led the European Commission to reverse its previous position that hemp should be considered a narcotic in EU states. National governments in the EU are in the process of adjusting their laws and regulations according to the landmark ECJ ruling.

Bertomeu accused the Public Prosecutor, the Medicines Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture of “using a preventive crackdown on industrial hemp and CBD production that really has no basis in protecting health.”

In the store owner’s case, two Civil Guard agents in August 2018 seized bags of hemp CBD buds at his shop, as well as hashish and marijuana in a private office. The defendant faced a sentence of four years in prison for an alleged “crime against public health” under the charges related to the CBD flowers.

Also cleared on pot charges

The CBD products, for which the defendant had wholesale invoices, did not exceed the 0.3% THC level that distinguishes hemp from marijuana, according to lab tests. In addition to acquitting the shop owner, the judge ordered the return of the seized CBD flowers, packed in bags of Mango Krush, Sour Diesel, Amensia Haze, Blue Berry and Critical Mass.

The shop owner also escaped charges in relation to the marijuana found on private premises. Having confirmed that the defendant was a heavy marijuana user, the court ruled that the quanitity found in the raid was not excessive under Spanish law. Investigating agents also failed to find any evidence of illegal sales activity regarding marijuana, the judge noted in dismissing the charges.

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