Is CBD legal in France?
CBD products are widely accessible in France, as are CBD flowers, thanks to a legal ruling that overturned French law. To find out more about the legal status of CBD in France, read on.
CBD is very common these days, but it still comes from the cannabis plant, which is illegal in much of the world. So, within what legal framework is CBD allowed in France? Which products are legal, and which are not? And can you grow CBD-rich cannabis at home in France?
In this article, we explore the legal landscape surrounding CBD in the country.
Can you buy CBD legally in France?
Yes, you can buy CBD legally in France. You can purchase it in various forms, including oil, vape juice, gummies, and raw CBD hemp flower. The last product has been a point of controversy and legal battles, but it is currently legal in France due to the fact that it’s legal under European Union (EU) law.
CBD is classed as a novel food supplement, not a medicine. Therefore, it is fairly accessible in health shops and online, and isn’t subject to the stringent controls that medical drugs are.
However, the purchase and production of CBD is slightly more regulated in France than some other areas, and producers must get a licence to grow and sell hemp and hemp products.
The path to CBD legalization in France
The route to legalization wasn’t so straightforward in France. In December 2021, CBD and CBD products were deemed fully legal so long as they contained less than 0.3% THC—but the purchase and production of CBD flower was deemed illegal. This negatively affected the industry, as you have to grow and harvest CBD-rich hemp in order to produce CBD products.
As a result, the law went before the French State Council, who eventually overturned the decree banning the production of hemp flowers. The reason for this is that CBD-containing hemp is legal under EU law, and a member state of the EU cannot criminalise a product that is legal by EU law, as this undermines the basic concept of a European-wide single market and customs union. As EU law superseded French law in this case, hemp flower is now also legal in France.
CBD criteria in France
While the plant and molecule are legal in France, there is still legislation in place regarding the production and sale of CBD products, in order to protect consumers. Without this legislation, the market would be unregulated and customers would have a hard time knowing what they were actually putting into their bodies.
Limited THC content
First and foremost, CBD products in France must have a very low THC content: less than 0.3%. This includes the hemp plants from which CBD products are derived. THC is still illegal in France, and thus so is what most consider normal cannabis or weed—i.e. the types that get you high.
This law is in place to ensure that CBD products cannot cause psychotropic effects in users, and that the CBD industry doesn't become a grey market for cannabis production.
No medical claims
As CBD products are classified as food supplements, manufacturers are not permitted to make any medical claims surrounding their products. This is true both on the product itself, and of any advertising material produced by the same company.
As research into CBD is not conclusive as of yet, the scientific community cannot safely say exactly what CBD might do, nor at which doses it might have certain effects. Therefore, given the lack of clarity, most governments have decided to ban companies from making any medical claims whatsoever.
The promotion of CBD products in France is not allowed. This is due to a law that states the advertisement of cannabis products is illegal; while CBD is itself legal, it is still classified as a cannabis product.
Novel food authorisation
CBD is not certified as a medicine in France, but rather as a novel food supplement. As such, producers must apply for the correct licences in order to produce and sell CBD products. The terms of these licences ensure that certain quality control measures are met.
Cannot sell plants or cuttings
While it is legal to grow CBD plants for commercial purposes in France (with the correct authorisation), it is illegal to sell or buy plants or cuttings. Instead, anyone wishing to grow CBD in France must do so from seeds, which are the only legal way to purchase a CBD hemp plant.
Is all CBD legal in France?
Yes, thanks to the EU law, all CBD is legal in France. That’s not to say that all CBD products are legal for sale, as they might not meet the regulations around this, but all CBD products are in themselves legal, so long as they don’t contain more than 0.3% THC.
As to whether it’s legal to smoke CBD in public in France, this is hard to say—it exists in a sort of grey area. Moreover, you might have a hard time convincing the police that you’re smoking CBD rather than THC-rich weed. If you want to avoid trouble with the authorities, it’s probably best to smoke CBD somewhere private, if you’re going to smoke it at all.
Can you grow CBD at home in France?
No. It is illegal to grow CBD cannabis at home in France for personal use, even if it is an authorised strain that contains less than 0.3% THC. In order to legally grow CBD in France, prospective growers must file a police report, make a declaration to the National Federation of Hemp Farmers, and sign at least one contract with buyers of the end product. Once these criteria have been met, the relevant authorities will ensure that all is going as it should, in line with regulations.
Given this, it is basically impossible to legally grow CBD cannabis at home for personal use.
Where can you buy CBD products in France?
CBD products are widely accessible in France. Most often you’ll find them in health food shops, but you might also find them elsewhere. If you’re looking for flowers, you’ll generally find them sold as tea, as it’s illegal to sell it as a product that’s meant to be smoked.
One of the easiest ways to buy CBD products is online. This exposes you to a much wider range of products, and allows you to find potentially higher-quality ones than you may be able to in certain shops.
Plus, if you’re in France, you can order CBD products from all over the EU. And as the second biggest CBD market in the world, the EU has a lot to offer when it comes to CBD-containing food supplements.
You can also go to a trusty health food shop. Though the selection might be smaller, the staff should be knowledgeable and be able to inform you more about specific products and how to use them. If you’re new to CBD and want some human knowledge to help you choose a product, going to an old-fashioned shop could help you to make an informed decision.
Can you take CBD oil to France?
Yes, it’s possible to take CBD oil and CBD gummies to France, so long as they contain less than 0.3% THC. You should keep them in clearly labelled, original packaging so that you can show border guards exactly what you’re carrying, in case they ask.
You should probably avoid importing CBD flower into France, though, as you might have a hard time convincing customs that it doesn’t contain THC, and you’ll probably end up being delayed, if nothing else.
So, can I get in trouble for CBD in France?
On the whole, you shouldn’t. The main thing to look out for is the smoking of CBD flower, which can be problematic in its own right, and is likely to be interpreted as the smoking of THC-rich cannabis—even if it’s not! Also, if you want to grow CBD at home, be aware that this is illegal without the right licences, which are hard to get and require you to meet certain criteria.
Otherwise, buying CBD products is legal in France, and you are protected by the law if you choose to do so.