France’s green party has hit back at a new rule banning the sale of CBD flowers and leaves, calling the decision “stupid, absurd, the worst kind of nonsense”, and “a real New Year's gift to [drug] dealers”.
A government decree on December 31 states that the sale of CBD flowers or leaves, either to smoke or to drink in tea, directly to consumers is now banned.
CBD is derived from cannabis but is non-psychoactive, meaning it contains none of the psychoactive compounds, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), found in “normal” cannabis.
Users say it helps with conditions such as anxiety, depression, chronic pain and even seizures, plus a host of other claimed benefits. Some also use CBD as a replacement for tobacco.
Under the new rules, only the growing, importation, exportation and industrial and commercial use of Cannabis sativa L. varieties are now allowed. Products that do not contain whole leaves or flowers to smoke or drink will still be allowed.
The decree also legalises a slightly higher concentration of THC in finished CBD products – this is now set at 0.3% rather than the previous 0.2%.
As well as flowers and leaves to smoke or drink in tea, CBD can also be commonly found in products such as body cream, honey, cosmetics, capsules, oils, and gummy [bear] sweets.
The decree was made as a government decision reportedly to help public health, and also to help police, who may struggle to tell the difference between a CBD product and a THC one.
But the new rules have provoked sharp criticism from the green party in France (Europe Écologie les Verts, EELV).
Ecologist presidential candidate Yannick Jadot sent a message of support to sellers and producers of CBD on January 4, as many of them will now be required to get rid of stock.
In a tweet, he wrote: “CBD: The government is demonstrating its absolute ignorance of the subject, trapped as it is in its ineffective and dangerous policy of repression against cannabis. Support for producers and sellers.”
CBD : le gouvernement démontre sa méconnaissance absolu du sujet, prisonnier qu'il est de sa politique de répression inefficace et dangereuse contre le cannabis. Soutien aux producteurs et aux vendeurs.#Jadot2022— Yannick Jadot (@yjadot) January 4, 2022
Julien Bayou, national secretary of EELV, also denounced the move. He wrote: “Making #CBD illegal is really the worst kind of nonsense. It will lead thousands of people who find CBD a non-psychotropic alternative to #cannabis to turn back to dealers at the risk of their health.
“A real New Year's gift to the dealers.”
Rendre illégal le #CBD c'est vraiment la pire des bêtises.— Julien Bayou (@julienbayou) January 2, 2022
C'est amener des milliers de personnes qui trouvent dans le CBD une alternative non psychotrope au #cannabis à se tourner à nouveau vers les dealers au risque de leur santé.
Un vrai cadeau de nouvel an aux trafiquants. https://t.co/amjcrd5QWA
The president of the ecology group in the Senate, Guillaume Gontard, called the government’s decision “absurd dogmatism”.
He said: “Prioritising imports rather than allowing local, controlled production, is a load of nonsense.”
François-Michel Lambert, eco MP, president of the Liberté Écologie Fraternité party, and founder of local economy group l’Institut national de l’économie circulaire, posted a photo of himself deliberately flouting the new rules.
He said: “I decided to start 2022 by defying a stupid ban”, and published a photo of an open tube of whole CBD flowers designed to eat like sweets.
He then said that the risk of CBD flowers is “zero”, but listed three reasons why the ban is “stupid”.
He wrote: “Thousands of shops will go bankrupt, the economy will lose €400m turnover, and consumers will go to foreign internet stores, or worse, the black market.”
He said: “2022, a year without flowers, an idiotic year.”
J'ai décidé de commencer 2022 par braver un stupide interdit:— FM LAMBERT (@fm_lambert) January 1, 2022
Autorisées partout en Europe, les fleurs de chanvre sont interdites en France depuis le 1er janvier, quelque soit leur forme et usage.
Quel est le risque ?
Les conséquences ?
Énormes pour la filière française
Cécile Duflot, ex-EELV MP and now head of the NGO Oxfam in France, said that “banning CBD flowers is like banning Champomy (the non-alcoholic Champagne-like drink) out of fear of it being confused with Champagne”.
She also condemned the “stupefying French hypocrisy around cannabis”.
More ‘Made in France’ CBD?
But some have welcomed the new rules, which do finally provide a legal framework for the growing, importation, exportation and industrial and commercial use of Cannabis sativa L varieties, and a higher concentration of THC in final CBD products.
They will, proponents say, pave the way for more “made in France” products.
"Previously, farmers were not allowed to touch hemp flowers, which were therefore imported from Italy or Switzerland. This decree means that we will finally be able to offer French CBD," said Ludovic Rachou, president of commercial cannabis producers’ union, l’Union des industriels pour la valorisation des extraits de chanvre (UIVEC).
Mr Rachou is also the founder of the start-up Rainbow, the first French company to sell its CBD products in mainstream stores such as Monoprix.
The new decree comes just over a year after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that France could not ban the sale of CBD that had been legally produced in another European member state.
It also found that CBD was not a narcotic, and has neither a “psychotropic effect nor negative effect on human health”.
The ECJ became involved after the Court of Appeal in Aix-en-Provence asked it to intervene in a case against two Marseille entrepreneurs who had been accused of illegally selling a CBD-based e-cigarette under the brand Kanavape.
Under the new rules, they will need to remove any products containing whole flowers and leaves.