France Announces New CBD Regulation, Flowers and Raw Hemp Products Stay Illegal

France will authorize products based on CBD, but the sale of dried flowers and leaves will remain prohibited, the AFP reported on Tuesday.

The new regulations will allow the cultivation, import, export, and industrial and commercial use of hemp with a THC content less than 0.2%, announced the prime minister’s office.

French farmers will be allowed to cultivate CBD for the manufacture of derivative products and the activity of specialized shops will be clarified. The shops will be allowed to sell various products based on CBD, but will not be able to market raw flowers or leaves. “The placing on the market of floral tops or raw leaves for smoking or herbal tea is prohibited, as are products incorporating raw hemp,” said the prime minister’s office, adding that the restriction is “justified on grounds of public order and public health”.

“Raw CBD flowers are often smoked and mixed with tobacco, which is harmful to health”, said a source familiar with the matter. The authorization of the flowers would have posed problems in the event of police control because without analysis of the seized herb, it would be impossible to know if the user has cannabis high in THC or is dominated by CBD.

The drafting of the new decree should be finalized soon. The text must then be sent to the European Commission. The Member States of the European Union will then have six months to ask France questions before the decree comes into effect.

France is by far the biggest hemp producer in Europe, with 17.900 hectares in 2018. At present, there are around 1800 hemp growers in France and more than 400 CBD shops. Products already for sale in those shops contain CBD of foreign origin. Last November, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that France can not prohibit the marketing of the product legally produced in other member countries, even when the product is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant in its entirety and not solely from its fiber and seeds, as it is the case in France. In its decision, the CJEU stated that the prohibition may be justified by the objective of protecting public health.

The Union of Industrialists for the Valorization of Hemp Extracts (UIVEC) welcomed the announcement of the prime minister’s office. “This is excellent news and a great relief for our farmers, our entrepreneurs, our established economic and industrial players. It is a very strong signal sent by the government and which should considerably advance the development of a hemp extract sector ensuring the quality of products for consumers.”, said Ludovic Rachou, president of UIVEC for LSA.

In Austria, Italy, and Switzerland, the police have a rapid reagent test for use on the street; some portable tests can analyze whether a product contains THC or not and others analyze the amount of THC.

Reviewed by Sasha Bajilo, founder of ILESOL Pharmaceuticals, an industrial scale producer of CBD products and formulations. Expert on Hemp/Cannabis policy, member of the Croatian Ministry of Health regulatory commission for medical cannabis.