November 19th 2020

EU Ruling on Kanavape – a step in the right direction

The Background

On the 14th May 2020, the European Court’s Advocate General assessed a case taken to the court by the Parties representing by the French Judicial system Appeal Court and Kanavape, one of the first CBD products available in Europe and the UK.

The case was essentially about the integrity of the Free Market in the EU (FEU Treaty and specifically Article 36 TFEU concerning human health). Kanavape’s CBD was extracted from hemp grown in the Czech Republic, and then shipped to France and vape cartridges filled.

The French courts sentenced the people involved to suspended sentences and heavy fines because they believed the extract contained extracts from the flower part of Cannabis Sativa L known as hemp. The French Government considered CBD detrimental to human health and cited regulations allowing it to make this claim and override the free market regulation.

The Outline

This ruling has been a long time coming; Kanavape no longer make the product cited in this case. The real issue is case law for the transport of hemp derived products inside the single market and the ramification on CBD as a possible narcotic or not, depending on the Judgement.

The EU’s food standards agency is currently unsure if CBD is a narcotic and has stopped all novel foods applications as a result. We hope this ruling goes some way towards resolving the issue.

Success for Kanavape

This ruling will impact the single market trade in hemp derived products across Europe and CBD sales in particular. The French judiciary sought guidance and the European Court has ruled that CBD extracts from “industrial hemp” including flowers are permitted and can be moved within the free market under trade regulations. These products are outside the UN Single Convention on Narcotics *(point 74), if they are below the limits set for THC

This has enormous relevance to the EU and with the UK ‘downloading’ these rulings this will have real impact. This ruling will be part of the UK post Brexit law and it opens up the market for trade in Cannabis plant extracts and potential CBD flower sales in the UK.

This has huge potential to bring back offshored jobs in the hemp economy to the UK. Hemp must be part of the **Government’s Green Industrial Revolution, where point 9 lists planting 30 000 hectares of trees. 30 000 hectares of hemp will sequester much more carbon produce more jobs and replace more Petro chemical derived products.

The National Court must 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, which indeed constitutes the most restrictive obstacle to trade in products lawfully manufactured and marketed in other Member States, can be adopted only if that risk appears sufficiently established.

The CTA will work hard to develop the full plant economy to create jobs and realise the potential of the Cannabis renaissance we all need.

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Contact: Tim Henley, CTA Communications Director -


* 74. Article 1(1)(j) of the Single Convention defines ‘drug’ as meaning any of the substances in Schedules I and II to that convention. The following entry appears in Schedule I to the Single Convention: ‘Cannabis and cannabis resin and extracts and tinctures of cannabis’. It is true that CBD might be considered to be an ‘extract of cannabis’, in so far as it is extracted mainly from cannabis leaves and flowers (40) and, according to Article 1(1)(b) of the Single Convention, ‘“Cannabis” means the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops)’. However, first, according to Article 28(2) of the Single Convention, the convention does not apply to the cultivation of the cannabis plant ‘exclusively for industrial purposes (fibre and seed) or horticultural purposes’, secondly, it is stated in the Commentary on the Single Convention published by the United Nations, (41) that cultivation of the plant for any other purpose [than the production of cannabis or cannabis resin], and not only for [industrial or horticultural purposes]’ is exempted from the control regime provided for in Article 23 of that convention. In other words, cultivation of the hemp plant is not subject to control where it is not for the purpose of producing a narcotic drug. The Convention on Psychotropic Substances, although it regards THC as a psychotropic substance,(42) does not regard CBD as such.

** https://assets.publishing.serv... AN_BOOKLET.pdf

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