France’s green party calls new CBD ban ‘absurd gift to drug dealers’

A new ban against the sale of leaves and flowers of the non-psychoactive cannabis product CBD has been heavily criticised by members of the EELV ecology party

Products that contain leaves or flowers with CBD are now banned for sale in France, under a new decree
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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.

Ecologist criticism

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.”

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.”

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.”

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”.

Read more:European court: French ban on CBD products illegal

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.

CBD was temporarily banned in France in 2018. Yet, since then, more and more shops, including in major towns such as Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon and Nice, now have CBD products on their shelves.

Under the new rules, they will need to remove any products containing whole flowers and leaves.

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