Following the decree published on 31 December 2021 in the Journal Officiel, it is now forbidden to buy, sell or consume CBD flowers in France. This decision has been met with an outcry from retailers and consumers alike, who point to the fact that the CBD molecule is not considered a drug, and above all that the CJEU has prohibited France from banning the marketing of CBD. So what will happen in the coming days and weeks?
Since last year, the number of shops selling CBD has risen from 400 to over 2000 in France, according to the Syndicat Professionnel du Chanvre. This ban with immediate effect puts a brutal stop to this expansion. But does France have the right to take this decision? What will happen in the coming weeks? We will try to shed some light on the subject.
For some shopkeepers, this decision is seen as a shock wave. In Le Havre, one of the most developed cities in France in terms of CBD (number of shops, by-products, etc.), we met a rather pessimistic shopkeeper on the subject: "Everyone is going to be unemployed, we have no choice. Flower is 80 % of our sales. All CBD shops will close in France. It's not just by selling oils that traders will manage to survive. Oils, cosmetics and drinks only represent 20 % of my turnover. It will give reason to the people in the neighbourhood who sell the real drug, the THC-based flowers..."
On the other hand, in the same urban area of Le Havre, Cyrille Bjaoui, manager of the Weed Corner chain, does not give in to the panic that seems to be gripping his peers: "This law means that things are moving, that things are evolving. In the last three years, there has been a lot of progress and things are still going in the right direction. CBD has been further clarified with the decree. We want this sector to be much more regulated. Today, there are few or no controls. People who know nothing about this business are jumping in, hence the exponential number of companies opening in relation to CBD. There are necessarily methodologies in relation to this emerging sector that are not all in place.
He believes that this decision will have no impact on his business, as he works with other European countries.
But there is a positive side. Indeed, the hemp trade union has already announced that it will lodge an appeal with the Council of State. And then, in June 2021, the Court of Cassation had already specified that France could not ban the sale of CBD. What is a pity is that the French policy positions itself rather harshly, or at least not objectively, with regard to this sector, even though there are good prospects," continues Cyrille Bjaoui. What poses a problem is the flowering tops, the flowers, the weed, arguing that it's a public health problem and that today, the police are not in a position to realise whether they are dealing with a product rich in CBD or THC. This is totally false. You only have to travel 700 km to Switzerland. We have the human and financial means, we just need to have a real desire. The only thing that the decree shows is that France does not want to take a position on this. That's why I'm not worried.
The next appeal to the Constitutional Council will take place this Friday 14/01/22, while all CBD market players are waiting for positive feedback to be able to continue their activity, which is clearly legal and authorised in the name of the European Union. However, it seems certain that you will be able to find CBD flowers in some shops that do not accept this text which goes against the EU.