The development of the CBD business in France

CBD is attracting increasing interest in France, both from consumers and from public authorities. It is a sector of activity whose growth can be appreciated both from a commercial and legal point of view. The study of its development requires an analysis of the state of the market and the rules.

CBD: a growing market in France

If we refer to the figures from the SPC (Professional Hemp Union), France already had more than a thousand CBD shops in 2021. These data may seem insignificant on the scale of an entire country, but they indicate a significant expansion in the number of shops, especially since 3 years earlier there were only a hundred. In addition to physical stores, there is an increase in online CBD sites such as that offer a variety of CBD products.

All of this reflects a real interest in a product that has long been dismissed, but at which we now have a fairer look. If CBD hasn’t always had a good press, that’s partly because it’s a derivative of hemp, a plant from which THC is also derived. Unlike CBD, THC is a psychotropic and addictive substance, the consumption of which gradually leads to addiction. On the other hand, CBD or cannabidiol suffered from a lack of knowledge about its effects, which served it poorly. Today, these effects are better known and the benefits are no longer really in doubt. This has led to the recognition of cannabidiol, which is increasingly being embraced.

CBD in light of French legislation

The development of the CBD business is correlated with French legislation. France is one of the countries whose regulations have long been a problem for the CBD industry. Inducing the development of this sector also means addressing the legal progress made in this direction in recent years.

Hemp cultivation is allowed in France; the country is also the leading producer in Europe in this area. However, French law states that only hemp seeds with a low THC content may be grown. Given this, the commercialization of CBD should not be a problem. But a provision in the Public Health Act had until then maintained a certain legal vagueness. Article R.5132-86 of said Code stipulates that commercial and industrial operations are only possible with hemp fibers and seeds. Since CBD is mostly extracted from hemp leaves and flowers, marketing seems compromised.

Although this legislation restricts commercial operations and the use of CBD, it has only delayed the emergence of this market, which since 2017 has been in constant expansion. If the legal vagueness lasted for a few years, it was disproved with a decision by the European Court of Justice in November 2020). According to this decision, French legislation is in conflict with EU legislation, which considers the use of CBD to be completely healthy. Free circulation of the product is therefore permitted in EU member states. According to this decision, it is illegal to ban the marketing of CBD in France.

A promising future for the CBD business in France

The decision of the European Court of Justice contributed to the relaxation of French legislation in relation to CBD. The legalization of CBD was adopted in June 2021, but the marketing of the product remains strictly regulated. Only products containing CBD with a THC content of less than 0.2% are approved for sale. At the same time, we see that the regulations are more willing to develop according to studies on hemp in general and on CBD in particular. This paves the way for various therapeutic applications, especially in the context of palliative care or management of pain or epilepsy.

This medical potential makes more and more French consume CBD, that is 10% of the population. Far from being set in stone, this number is set to change according to estimates, which bodes well for continued growth in the CBD business in France.

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