France is considering raising the legal THC limit to 1%.

French National Assembly renounces to exclude small amounts of THC in final products

Current French legislation prevents the normal development of the hemp industry in the country. To unblock the situation, a report entitled the “Hemp of Wellness” has been presented to the French National Assembly , with the aim of regulating the market for CBD products in France.

Update! After years of legal skirmishes, as of December 29, 2022 France has legalized the sale of CBD in all its forms. It is already possible to buy CBD flowers, CBD oils and CBD creams, as well as all kinds of cannabis derivatives with less than 0.3% THC. We tell you more in our special post:

In this article we echo the recent news and report on the main points of the proposed reform. It is undoubtedly a very important step forward for the normalization of hemp, the regulation of its consumption, and to free the plant from the stigmatization and prejudices that hinder the growth of a booming industry in France.

What does French law say about hemp?

French law prohibits the use or possession of cannabis. It is one of the strictest European countries with respect to hemp, as its prohibition does not even distinguish between the possession of hemp for personal use or for trafficking. Paradoxically, despite its strict legislation, France remains a major producer of hemp and cannabis.

Recently, the French National Assembly published a new report entitled “Welfare Hemp”. This is a document that its ad hoc committee has been working on for the past year, with the aim of calling for more flexible regulation to ensure the growth of the French CBD market.

Ideas from the document presented to the French National Assembly on CBD

In summary, the Committee calls on national authorities and European countries to overcome their fears about cannabinoids and hopes that decisive support will be given to the French hemp industry.

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has welcomed the proposals, highlighting the permitting of flower harvesting and processing, increasing the permitted level of THC in hemp cultivation to 1%, and including new entries for natural hemp extracts from all parts of the plant in the CosIng database.

The French CBD market could start to thrive

Below we will review the 20 decisive proposals that have been put forward for the growth of the French CBD market, and the most relevant points of each of them:

  • Complete the revision of the decree of August 22, 1990 to secure the fledgling welfare hemp sector, in particular through the following three axes:
  1. To delete the words “fibers and seeds” in Article 1 of the order of August 22, 1990, and that it expressly registers the authorization of cultivation, import, export and use of all parts of the hemp plant for industrial and commercial purposes, including the flower.
  2. Waive the 0% THC threshold for finished products. Integrate specific THC thresholds into national regulations as soon as possible for each category of finished product that may contain CBD (food, liquids, cosmetics). These thresholds are intended to be defined according to the toxicity doses estimated by ANSES.
  3. Define a relevant threshold, located between 0.6% and 1%, of THC authorized in hemp crops in France, accompanied by a derogatory rate of 1% for overseas territories located in warm latitudes.
CBD legal France

The Assembly calls for THC levels to be raised to between 0.6 and 1% with a 1% margin tolerance on crops.

Proposals to facilitate the “wellness hemp” industry

  • To delete article 2 of the decree of August 22, 1990 and to regroup the authorizations of hemp varieties within the single ministerial decrees adopted on the basis of decree no. 81-605 of May 18, 1981, in order to speed up the registration procedure for new varieties.
  • Extend the national catalog to the most relevant hemp varieties in the European catalog.
  • Promptly authorize national and local hemp producer organizations to conduct varietal experiments to better define the supply needs of the future national welfare of the hemp sector. To this effect, modify the first paragraph of II of article R. 5132-86 of the Public Health Code in the sense of recognition of research projects focused on the exploitation of new varieties for industrial purposes.

That all facilities to develop the cultivation of hemp flower be promptly placed in the hands of the national organizations.

  • Place the CBD flowers under the tobacco status “Other herbal smoking product” and, for this purpose, to make them available for high-throughput screening and detection services that can accurately distinguish the respective CBD and THC levels of hemp flowers.

That hemp flowers be categorized as “smoking herbs”.

flower cbd fire og
Fire OG – CBD Flower

Proposals regarding CBD market facilitation at the European level.

  • Ensure that the European Commission fully draws the consequences of the “Kanavape” ruling by amending the CosIng catalog and resuming the examination of the Authorization files submitted for CBD under the Novel Foods procedure .
  • To initiate a reflection with the rest of the Member States of the European Union in order to reach authorized THC limit levels. In the case of food products, to complete the work initiated within the framework of the standing committee (SCOPAFF).
  • Obtain permission from the European Commission to use specific health claims for CBD in food products and supplements.

Regulatory proposals for novel foods

  • Encourage large French companies in the food and food supplements industry to file as soon as possible with the European Commission to obtain, with data exclusivity, the right to market CBD products as Novel Foods in the European Union.
  • Set up a system to support small and medium-sized companies in the novel food authorization procedures they would like to carry out for CBD products. A support system for SMEs.

Commercialize CBD products as Novel Foods in the European Union.

Proposals of general interest to strengthen the sector at national and European level.

  • Encourage the structuring of a “welfare hemp” sector around, in particular, the professional hemp union and InterChanvre to strengthen the defense of professional interests at the national and European level.
  • Ensure that the tobacconist network is widely involved in the distribution of CBD-containing smoking products.
  • Invite French public research establishments to improve the knowledge of the contributions of CBD in the reduction of THC dependence and harmful effects on the organism.

There is a disproportionate fear of the misuse of hemp.

Proposals related to the sanitary regulation of CBD products.

As for consumer protection, the Committee proposes that it should be based on existing regulations on the prevention of product misuse or health “surveillance”. However, it is proposed to strengthen the existing framework to protect people at risk, such as minors and pregnant women. In addition, the Committee proposes law reform and education for drivers who would consume products containing THC:

  • Define non-binding recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for CBD consumption and mention them on product packaging along with warnings about currently known risks to human health.
  • Exclude people at risk (children and pregnant women) from CBD-containing products.
  • To sensitize the bodies involved in cosmetic and nutrivigilance (manufacturers and health professionals) to the importance attached to the escalation of possible effects of undesirable cosmetics and food supplements containing CBD.
  • Ensure that smoking products containing CBD (vape and, where appropriate, flower) are subject to regulations with similar content by imposing warnings on specific health facilities and prohibiting any advertising as well as sales to minors under eighteen years of age.

Proposals regarding the prevention of abuse of CBD products.

  • Continue to penalize promotional activities that may constitute an inducement, even if they are not followed by the use of narcotic drugs.
  • Intensify actions against producers and distributors who report therapeutic claims about CBD products.
  • Increase the prosecution of companies that make misleading advertising claims about the miraculous effects that CBD can produce.
  • Modify the highway code to align the law applicable to driving under the influence of narcotics with that applicable to driving under the influence of alcohol. Establish maximum CBD consumption values, beyond which driving is strongly discouraged.

Stigmatization of hemp

In its report, the French Committee stresses that the development of the sector in France is hampered by strong legal uncertainties and a certain reluctance on the part of the public authorities, both national and European. In his words, this reluctance lies mainly in the disproportionate fear of misuse of a molecule extracted from hemp flower and unnecessarily slows down the growth of a market where France could acquire a dominant position in Europe.

The French CBD market could start to prosper

The Court of Justice of the European Union, with its verdict, forced the French authorities to take the path of unblocking the situation. The Government can no longer be satisfied with a 1990 decree providing exemptions from the general prohibition of the use of cannabis products, the Committee concludes. They have called for broader action on the legal aspects that may apply to CBD products, while recommending the deployment of an information, evaluation and control system aimed at reassuring consumers about the safety of the products.

In particular, they asked the Government to definitively waive the 0% THC threshold in finished products and to establish specific national THC thresholds for each category of finished products. A threshold between 0.6% and 1% authorized for hemp crops could now be set and unified at the national level. This could represent a major legal breakthrough in the French CBD market.

Until now, the Inter-Ministerial Mission Against Drugs and Addictive Behavior (MILDECA) only allowed CBD products with THC levels of 0.2% or less, and the products had to be made from approved types of hemp plants (low THC content).

France has launched a public consultation on Cannabis legislation

Despite having some of the continent’s strictest laws against cannabis, a group of parliamentarians has decided to launch an innovative initiative to change the terms of the debate on Cannabis legislation. The French CBD market could begin to flourish following the European Court of Justice ruling in November, which prompted this legislative reform. France already has the highest consumption of cannabis in Europe, but it remains illegal for medical or adult use.

On January 13, 2021, the French government launched a public consultation on the legalization of cannabis for adult use. Its main objective is to make the French political class more open to the idea of legalizing cannabis. The consultation is open until February 28 and already has more than 200,000 respondents.

The open consultation closes on February 28 and, possibly, in April we will have the official results. The open consultation seeks to understand more precisely the French population’s views on cannabis, as well as to understand what government policies on the subject citizens want. The public consultation on cannabis will examine the health risks to the population, the consequences of illicit trafficking and other security issues. The main objective of the consultation is to promote cannabis reform at the national level.

In addition, France has started its first medical cannabis trial. Tilray and other major cannabis companies have been contracted to supply medical cannabis products to more than 3,000 patients for the duration of the clinical trial.

We will comment on the findings next April, when they will be published in a report. Although the results of this government survey are unlikely to lead to immediate changes, we want the findings to be used to promote cannabis reform in France.

Isidre Carballido
Founder & CEO at Cannactiva | Cannabis Expert

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