Will CBD (cannabidiol) taken from hemp be sold over the counter soon?

Will CBD (cannabidiol) taken from hemp be sold over the counter soon?

The least we can say is that the relations between the plant named “hemp” and the many molecules that can be exploited in France are far from being warm and friendly. Yet the European Court of Justice could be a game-changer for the years to come. This article will tell you more about the stakes of cultivation and exploitation of hemp in France.

For a better understanding of the relations between hemp, cannabis and CBD.

CBD is a molecule extracted from hemp which was discovered in 1963. Its use has had a renewed interest recently. Many specialised shops have opened. And these stores sell a huge quantity of varied products ranging from e-liquids, to pain-relief creams, pearls or even mouth sprays. And all these shopkeepers believed they were abiding by the law since they were selling THC-free products. THC, you know, the substance that’s said to make you high and which is produced from hemp. And all these shopkeepers truly thought they could escape the “psychotropic” classification since they were only selling cannabidiol.

THC is indeed the molecule that’s well known by the cannabis users. That’s the reason why the French authorities had decided to ban this substance totally. And especially the sale of products coming from hemp. What you probably don’t know, is that THC and CBD are only two of the molecules that can be extracted from cultivated hemp. They are part of cannabinoids but do not have the same effects. THC – short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol – has indeed a powerful psychic effect on users. However cannabidiol or CBD has relaxing and soothing effects against pain and is absolutely not psychoactive. No toxic or euphoric effects have been detected so far.

The origin of the complex judiciary situation in France as regards the sale of CBD.

We can say that the controversy about selling cannabidiol or not is just a question of botanic.  The French justice system  allows only  the exploitation of fibers and seeds coming from Cannabis Sativa. However, if you want to produce CBD, you can use the fibers and seeds but also leaves and flowers. This is where the European court of Justice intervened.

The interpretation of the European Court of Justice as regards cannabidiol.

The European court of Justice has declared that the postion of France was far too restrictive as the products sold had no or almost no THC. That’s why selling products containing CBD is legal. And the European court of Justice goes even further by stating that no member state is allowed to ban the sale of CBD as long as it was legally produced by another EU member state and fully extracted from Cannabis Sativa. The European court of Justice has considered that the position of France is illegal.

The two main arguments are that there’s an obligation of free circulation of goods within the EU borders and that CBD has no psychotropic effects which can harm people’s health. You will also find it interesting to notice that within the two UN conventions on psychotropes and drugs, CBD is never mentioned. Consequently we can consider that legally-speaking CBD doesn’t belong to the class of drugs.

History of the legal conflict

A ministerial order issued on 22 August 1990 and modified in 2004 allows the exploitation of cannabis under specific conditions. The order specifies that cultivating, importing , using in an industrial context and selling types of Cannabis Sativa are allowed, if the THC rate is under 0.2% and used for its fibers and seeds only. As you can infer from this order, the conflict comes from these arguments. Unfortunately, dozens of specialty shops had to close 

What about the ongoing trials or the judicial decisions to come?

Several lawyers think that many shop owners will be discharged. One of them argues that no official study has ever revealed any sanitary danger. So there’s no official reason for banning the free movement of CBD within the EU. The rule is quite easy: the French judiciary system must comply with the EU law except if scientific studies prove that CBD is harmful. To this day, no official document validating this possibility has been released.


The production of hemp in France and in Europe.

As the first producer of hemp in Europe, France has an important role to play in the production of hemp dedicated to relaxation. But if producers aren’t helped by the government to develop this type of cultivation, other molecules coming from Canada could arrive en masse into the EU. Canada is an important producer that benefits from the free-trade treaty called CETA. Specialised structures, such as InterChanvre have been created in order to position the cultivation of hemp around 3 main axes :  economy, ecology as well as eco-responsibility. Today InterChanvre claims that there are around 1,400 producers in France and that around 16,400 hectares are cultivated. All the stakeholders agree to say that there’s a big difference between traditional and industrial productions. Indeed hemp requires a lot of care to grow and bloom.

For example, in an environmentally-friendly type of cultivation, only 1.2 kgs per hectare of seeds are sown while in agribusiness 45 kgs are sown. Besides the gap between rows is around 75 cm while it’s as low as 13 cm in agribusiness.

Great care has to be given to the cultivation of Cannabis Sativa since during its flowering, from June to the end of August. Indeed, the male plants have to be removed so that only monoidic plants remain. Only female flowers on the same plant are kept. France is the first producer in the EU followed by Italy (4000 ha), the Netherlands ((3800 ha), Estonia (3500 ha) and Romania (3400 ha).

To conclude

The evolution of the European legislation allows us to hope for a better future. Especially for those wishing to legally sell substances extracted from hemp or those wishing to get into this type of cultivation.