Is CBD oil legal in France?
In recent years plenty of people are considering trying themselves out in the growing CBD related business in France. While the times are good for this, products related to cannabis are still subject to strict overview and regulation around the world and in France.
If you are setting up a CBD business, comprehensive knowledge of regulations and laws is crucial for your success.
In order to avoid unwanted mistakes, we strive to provide you with factual information about the legal status of CBD oil and other products in different countries in the European Union (“EU”).
The EU is aiming to achieve a common policy in regards to CBD products, as it recognizes the tremendous potential of the products. Nonetheless, it is not uncommon that different member states regulate cannabis and its products differently.
This article aims to answer the pressing questions about CBD products in one of the largest member states of the EU – France.
We will explain the legal status of CBD oil, clarify what is permitted, and how CBD can be used in France. Furthermore, the article will explain your options when buying CBD products in France.
If you want to learn more about regulation in France and the legal questions around CBD oil you are welcome to read the article in full.
The legal status of CBD in France
Cannabis is a well known and widely used plant. Throughout history, it went through different stages of treatment, but mostly it was viewed with skepticism and distrust. It was and sometimes still is illegal. Possession and production of the cannabis plant may be considered criminal acts under certain circumstances.
In recent years, extensive research has been conducted on the Cannabis plant. This research showed numerous positive effects of cannabidiol (CBD), a phytocannabinoid extracted from Cannabis sativa L.
The growing interest in cannabis also means a rapidly expanding market for these products throughout the world and in the European Union. Governments are starting to respond to the shift in opinion and are transforming their legal regimes. These times, therefore, provide for a unique opportunity to start and grow your CBD related company.
France is among the largest producers of industrial hemp in the world, right there with China and Canada. It is estimated that it dominates the European market with a share of approximately 40% of all industrial hemp grown in the EU.
French cannabis regulation, however, remains rather confusing.
Cannabis is in principle not legal in France. This changed slightly in 2017. Some products made from the cannabis plant are legal now if they meet criteria set in the law.
We can safely say that France is a good place to sell and buy CBD products, but as always there are some obstacles you have to watch out for.
One of the first and crucial things to mention is the strict difference between cannabis plants, namely marijuana, and hemp. The difference is significant in French law.
It is technically speaking the same plant – Cannabis Sativa. Still, the regulations treat them differently based on the content of THC – the psychoactive element of cannabis that causes the “high” feeling.
They both, however, contain large amounts of other cannabinoids including CBD.
But what exactly is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 113 cannabinoids that comes from the cannabis plant. CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant in such a way to make it isolated from other cannabinoids. Most importantly, it can be separated from THC, the psychoactive element in cannabis.
Marijuana is considered an illegal drug under the narcotics regime of France due to the fact that it contains large amounts of THC. Mere possession of marijuana is prohibited. Moreover, using, trafficking as well as growing the plant is considered an offence. It follows that the recreational use of marijuana is not legal in France.
On the other hand, hemp is any cannabis plant that does not exceed 0.2% content of THC. It is, as such, permitted under French law. However, there has been some confusion regarding the THC level in products with CBD.
As described above this makes oil with CBD legal in France, but only if it is derived from hemp and not from cannabis.
Nonetheless, there are still some important limitations in the law that you have to watch out for, before starting your own CBD oil business.
Recent History of CBD In France *UPDATED 2023*
a) General restrictions
There has been lots of development significant for the CBD market in France in recent years, which may have caused a lot of confusion in the CBD market. We may set your mind at ease, CBD products are completely legal in France, however the stance of the authorities regarding the questions has change many times in recent years.
It started in 2018 when the French government issued a statement detailing its position on CBD products, explaining what the law permits.
As per their statement, oil and other extracts containing CBD were legal if they are extracted from an officially approved strain of hemp.
Additionally, the flower of the plant was not to be used under any circumstances for CBD extraction. Producers were instead compelled to focus on the fibers and the stem of the cannabis plant, in order to make their extracts from CBD legal in France, further to that, CBD products could not contain any trace of THC.
In essence, this meant that CBD products, lawfully produced in one member state of the EU could not be sold in France, if the flower of the cannabis plant was used in the extraction process.
In December 2020 European Court of Justice ruled that the French ban on imported CBD products that were produced legally in EU member states is illegal under the EU law. In particular, the French authorities banned all products that were produced from the flowers of the stem of hemp, even if their THC level was below the prescribed threshold. The European Court of Justice (1) decided that as CBD cannot be treated as a narcotic drug such ban is not allowed and that authorities must present conclusive scientific proof that CBD is harmful.
This was the beginning of a great change in the CBD market as France is a big market in itself and growth in France can contribute to fast growth of the CBD market across all of the EU. However, the complications did not stop there.
The government again issued a decree that allowed the sale of CBD products if the content of THC is less than 0,3 %, however it prohibited the sale of industrial hemp flowers, regardless of its THC content as it argued that it is not possible to differentiate between narcotics and legal products.
This time the French court stepped in. In response to the ruling, the French courts followed the European Court of Justice and ruled that a ban of hemp flowers with high CBD content is disproportionate and that the authorities could use rapid testing to ensure that the THC level is below the legal threshold.
The legal status regarding CBD oil and medical cannabis is now similar to other western EU member states.
CBD oil and is completely legal and can be sold in stores and online, as long as it does not exceed 0.3% content of THC.
b) Restrictions in marketing
Any company that wishes to succeed in the CBD oil business needs to adopt smart marketing and advertising strategy. The French authorities tightly regulate different parts of the promotion of CBD products.
Businesses dealing with CBD oil are not permitted to make any claims regarding the health effects of CBD oil. Such claims are allowed only if they are officially recognized by the national regulator (ANSM) or by the European Commission.
In practice, this means that you may be able to link your CBD oil to relaxation effects, similar to those of herbal tea. Statements that CBD helps with the treatment of any disease are not allowed, as this is not yet recognized by the officials.
What is more, the promotion of cannabis in advertising, regardless of its THC content, is not legal in France. It is perceived as the promotion of illegal drugs. Businesses can be fined if they are found to be in violation of this regulation.
Any company dealing with products containing CBD should carefully examine its strategy in order to be in line with the law.
Medical use of CBD in France
As we explained above, statements about the health effects of CBD are not allowed if the effects are not recognized by the authorities. Are any such claims officially permitted?
In 2013 the government cleared some cannabis-related products for medical use, so you can freely promote those.
There have recently been some experimental trials with cannabis for medical use, with extracts that even have higher than permitted THC content. All this might be a signal of a bright future for CBD oil in France.
Where to buy CBD oil in France?
CBD oil that meets the above criteria can be bought and sold without restrictions, both in stores and online.
If you are planning to start your own CBD related business in France, you should still thoroughly check your supplier. Focus on how they follow all essential cannabis regulation, so that you avoid any legal trouble.
Firstly you need to make sure that you work only with accredited buyers and dealers of CBD related products.
Your supplier should provide you with CBD products that do not contain THC and are extracted from cannabis plants with less than 0.2% THC.
Furthermore, they have to provide you with information that the flower of the plant was not used, as this is not yet allowed in France.
You should also be careful that the products that are being supplied to you do not have any unsubstantiated claims regarding the positive health effects of CBD oil.
If you are looking for a partner to supply your CBD related shop, Essentia Pura is a Slovenian company that offers the bulk sale of CBD extracts. We take pride in ensuring strict compliance with national and EU regulations. We are a trusted wholesale partner for your CBD oriented business. If you have any questions regarding the bulk sale of CBD oil and other products, as well as any legal questions about regulations in France or other EU member states feel free to contact us on our email address.
So is CBD oil legal in France? Lets quickly review the rules described in the article.
CBD is legal in France if it’s extracted from a government-designated type of hemp that has less than 0.3 % THC content. The law also prohibits any type of cannabis advertising and mentioning of the health effects of CBD that are not approved by the French authorities.
CBD is legal in France if it’s extracted from a government-designated type of hemp that has less then 0.2% THC content. Furthermore, the final product should not contain THC. The law also prohibits any type of cannabis advertising and mentioning the health effects of CBD that are not approved by the authorities of France.