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CBD is Not a Narcotic, EU Court Rules

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Nov 19, 2020    Last Updated: Nov 20, 2020
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The European Union’s (EU) highest court has ruled that CBD is not a narcotic.

After reviewing the legality of a French ban on hemp-derived CBD, the EU’s Court of Justice also ruled that the principle of free movement of goods within the union still applies to legally produced CBD products.

The decision could have great implications for Europe’s CBD industry and how the EU Commission regulates hemp-derived cannabinoids.

No narcotic

The court case at hand originated from a dispute between French authorities and a CBD company from the Czech Republic. As France prohibits the marketing of any product derived from hemp flowers, the directors of the Czech company were prosecuted for promoting a hemp-derived CBD vaping product under the brand Kanavape.

The justification for this prosecution ultimately rested on an interpretation of the United Nations’ Single Convention on Narcotic Substances that considered CBD a narcotic.

However, the EU’s Court of Justice disagreed with this interpretation, and ruled on Thursday, November 19, that CBD should not be considered a narcotic.

“The provisions on the free movement of goods within the European Union (Articles 34 and 36 TFEU) are applicable, since the CBD at issue in the main proceedings cannot be regarded as a ‘narcotic drug’,” the court’s statement reads.

“The CBD at issue does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health,” the statement continues.

The court ultimately concluded that EU members states cannot prohibit the marketing of CBD lawfully produced in another member state if that CBD is extracted from a Cannabis sativa plant in its entirety and not solely from the fiber and seeds.

However, the court did leave French authorities with an opportunity to maintain their ban on CBD marketing, should the country’s national court “assess available scientific data in order to make sure that the real risk to public health alleged does not appear to be based on purely hypothetical considerations.”

“A decision to prohibit the marketing of CBD,” the court writes, “can be adopted only if that risk appears sufficiently established.”

“This is great news for the industry,” Dr Parveen Bhatarah, the regulatory lead at the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), said in a statement. “This is a step in the right direction for the future of the CBD industry.”

“The passing of this ruling is a huge sigh of relief for the CBD community,” Joachim Gartner, a co-founder of the London-based CBD company Moods & Bears, said in a statement. “After months of uncertainty, we have reassurance for the future of how we can trade and operate in EU member states.”

This article was updated on November 20 to include industry reaction. 


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