French ban on natural CBD is contrary to European law

Today is a big day for the hemp and CBD industry in Europe! Antonin Cohen, CEO of Harmony, got a positive opinion from the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the legality of natural CBD in France and Europe.

Harmony is the founding member of several hemp trade associations in Europe. Quality control and compliance have been the core focus of our company, and we are proud to help in building a sustainable CBD industry. When you buy from Harmony, you can be sure to get compliant and qualitative CBD products at fair prices and support the development of a sustainable European hemp industry.

Natural CBD is legal in the EU

The Advocate General Tanchev has presented his long-awaited opinion before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declaring the general ban on CBD extracted from the whole plan in France contrary to EU law.

In his opinion, the Advocate General concludes that: “[EU law] preclude[s] a Member State from prohibiting the importation of cannabidiol oil from another Member State, where that oil is extracted from the whole hemp plant, and not solely from its fibre and seeds, since, in the current state of scientific knowledge, it has not been established that cannabidiol oil has psychotropic effects.” The Advocate General further advocates for a proportionate regulation of CBD-based products in Europe which is less restrictive on the free movement of goods (for example through the establishment of a maximum CBD content).

A crucial step towards regulatory harmonisation

Allen & Overy, an international law firm, is representing Antonin Cohen in the proceedings for a preliminary ruling before the CJEU.

Eveline Van Keymeulen, Head of Allen & Overy’s Life Sciences Regulatory and Cannabis practices, who is assisting Antonin Cohen in these proceedings, comments: “Should the Court follow the Advocate General’s opinion, its decision will have a significant impact on the CBD industry in Europe, which is losing market share compared to other regions such as the US and Canada, because of the fragmented and inapt legal framework. As the Court’s decision would set a binding precedent with European reach, it would not only require France to adapt its legislation in order to allow the marketing of CBD extracted from the entire hemp plant, but may also force other national regulators to (re)examine existing restrictions related to hemp-derived products in light of the free movement of goods in the EU. The Advocate General’s opinion is therefore a crucial step towards much needed regulatory harmonisation and legal certainty for the CBD industry in Europe. In addition, a clear and proportionate regulation of CBD-based products will ultimately benefit EU consumers.” 

Urgent needs for CBD regulations

When we launched our product in 2014, CBD was unknown. Our goal has always been to market a useful and legal product, and we conducted a legal analysis to validate the compliance of CBD. The duration of these proceedings – more than 5 years – and the referral to the CJEU demonstrates the lack of clarity in the current regulations, and the need to provide a clear framework for the production and use of CBD in France and Europe. It is very difficult to combat these legal challenges for so long but I have pursued this approach because it is vital to create clear regulations to protect the health of consumers and to support the competitiveness of French and European companies in a global industry that is growing very fast.” comments Antonin Cohen.

The opinion of the Advocate General is available in English (here) and in French (here).