Pair whose case set CBD free in Europe are officially cleared in France

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Two defendants whose cases eventually led to clarification of CBD’s legality in Europe have officially been cleared by a French court.

Sébastien Béguerie and Antonin Cohen, then affiliated with SAS Catlab, were prosecuted in 2014 for marketing their Czech-made KanaVape-branded CBD e-cigarette in France. The pair were convicted in 2018 under France’s national narcotics laws, and handed 18-month suspended prison sentences plus fines of €10,000 by the criminal court in Marseilles.

After Béguerie and Cohen appealed the charges before the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeals, the case was referred to the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg which eventually ruled in late 2019 that CBD is not a narcotic and may be freely traded among EU member states.

French ‘posture’

The Aix-en-Provence appeals court officially quashed the charges against the pair yesterday.

“In the wake of this decision I hope that France will seize the tremendous economic opportunity represented by cannabis by breaking out of its ideological posture,” Béguerie said in a press release issued after yesterday’s court ruling, noting he is pleased to be “finally recognized as an innovative entrepreneur and not as a delinquent.”

“You have to take risks in order to make progress on complicated issues,” Cohen told BusinessCann. “Thanks to my win in this case, the law is changing for the benefit of all.”

Clarifying event

The 2019 ECJ ruling prompted the European Commission to change its assessment on CBD to declare the compound is not a narcotic, that CBD products should enjoy the same free movement of goods between and among EU countries as other legal products, and that CBD can be qualified as food.

Member States are now in the process of adjusting their national rules to comply with the changes at the EU level. French authorities earlier this year proposed rules for CBD and other products derived from hemp flowers that would specifically ban the sale of smokable hemp products and loose hemp leaves and flowers.

Those rules are among a broader proposed regulatory framework that would authorize the cultivation, import, export and industrial and commercial use of all parts of the hemp plant with less than 0.2% THC, the current EU limit. France previously had allowed only hemp seeds and stalks to be processed.

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