European Union: Top Court Rules Against Bans On “Lawfully Produced” CBD

In a case concerning whether France could ban cannabidiol (CBD) products legally produced in Czech Republic, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on November 19 that it could not. 

Specifically, CBD was extracted from hemp grown in the Czech Republic before getting imported into France to become “hemp oil electronic cigarette.” The Court specifically ruled that France’s position, which resulted in criminal proceedings, was contrary to EU law on the “free movement of goods.”

Further, the Court referred to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, a global drug control treaty, and argued that while a “literal interpretation” of the treaty “might lead to [CBD] being classified as a drug, in so far as it is a cannabis extract, such an interpretation would be contrary to the general spirit of that convention and to its objective of protecting ‘the health and welfare of mankind.’” Therefore, the Court argued that CBD is not a “drug” because it “does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”

The Court’s argument comes at a noteworthy time. Next month, as Cannabis Wire reported, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs will hold a vote on recommendations made by the World Health Organization in January 2019 that cannabis be rescheduled in such a way that it is considered a medicine. The categorization of CBD is also up in the air, as there is some confusion over WHO’s position: on one hand, the WHO concluded that CBD does not need to be under international control, on the other, WHO maintained that CBD extracted from cannabis is a cannabis “extract,” which is a category that is under international control.

Until then, the position published this week by the EU’s top court is clear: there cannot be “national legislation which prohibits the marketing of cannabidiol (CBD) lawfully produced in another Member State when it is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant in its entirety and not solely from its fibre and seeds, unless that legislation is appropriate for securing the attainment of the objective of protecting public health and does not go beyond what is necessary for that purpose.”

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