“It does not represent a public health risk which justifies a general and absolute prohibition”
The Conseil d’État decision annuls the 2021 ordinance that prohibited the sale of cannabis flowers and leaves with a THC content of less than 0.3%.
The Conseil d’État has taken a historic decision: in its recent ruling, it annulled the ordinance of December 30, 2021 that prohibited the sale of cannabis flowers and leaves with a THC content of less than 0.3%.
This decision constitutes a turning point for the government, which had based its choice on the analysis according to which “CBD does not have psychotropic effects and does not cause addiction” and therefore “it does not represent a danger to public health that justifies a general and absolute ban. A year ago, at the end of December 2021, the government had banned the sale of CBD buds or leaves through an inter-ministerial decree, specifying “whatever the form of the finished product (CBD infusions, oils, cosmetics… .)”. However, the Conseil d’État rescinded this measure in January 2022, holding that “it does not follow from the instruction… that hemp flowers and leaves whose THC content does not exceed 0.30% present a degree of toxicity to health that justifies a measure of general and absolute prohibition of its sale to consumers and its consumption”.
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For France, CBD is not a narcotic substance
The key point of this new decree focuses on one of the most controversial issues in relation to the world of cannabis, such as the difference between CBD and THC.
In this case, it has finally been established that for an important European country such as France, CBD is not a narcotic substance because it has relaxing and anticonvulsant properties, but not psychotropic ones, therefore, unlike THC, it is incapable of causing addiction. This means that cannabis flowers and leaves with a THC content of less than 0.3% cannot be considered drugs. In short, that is enough to challenge the latest ban that, precisely because of this error, considered them not compatible for sale.
In this regard, the Conseil d’État stated that a general ban on the sale of these products must be justified and proportionate to the risk to public health and that, therefore, to justify a general ban such as the one previously imposed, it is necessary to demonstrate that the risk is sufficiently serious.
Compared to the last ministerial decision, this decision represents a true turning point in resolving the numerous concerns that plagued the sector’s actors, who feared certain negative consequences for their activities in the face of a different ruling from the one implemented. In fact, this Thursday’s decision confirms what everyone was waiting for, annulling the 2021 ordinance and thus allowing the sale of cannabis flowers and leaves with a THC content of less than 0.3%.
Because of its degree of relevance, the decision could be challenged by the government or other interested parties, so it cannot be ruled out that some of the detractors would appeal the decision.
The decision of the Conseil d’État to definitively authorize the sale of CBD flowers in France could also have important consequences in other European countries. In fact, many EU countries still prohibit or heavily regulate cannabis and this decision could be seen as an important precedent for the legalization of cannabis in other EU countries.
Furthermore, the decision could promote more research into the medical benefits of cannabis and its safety, which in turn could lead to a greater understanding and acceptance of the huge world that cannabis represents across Europe. Will the Conseil d’État decision pave the way for further legalization and acceptance of medical cannabis in the EU? Obviously, this is not for us to say, but certainly the step taken in France in this case is relevant, so who knows if it can also be a good omen.