ECJ rules on hemp extracts: Landmark ruling for the European future of CBD

Brussels / Cologne – Is this the turning point in the discussion about CBD sales bans and the impending classification of CBD as a narcotic? The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg has issued a groundbreaking ruling for the CBD industry. According to this ruling, a member state of the EU may not ban the marketing of cannabidiol (CBD) lawfully produced in another member state. The ruling concerns CBD when it is extracted from the entire cannabis sativa plant, including the inflorescences and fruiting stems, and not only from its fibers and seeds.

In its reasoning, the ECJ clarifies that CBD, unlike THC, does not appear to have psychotropic effects or harmful effects on human health. In other words, CBD is neither a drug nor a narcotic.

Daniel Kruse, founder and CEO of Hempro Int. GmbH & Co. KG and President of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) on the ECJ ruling:

“This ruling is the beginning of the end of the arbitrary stigmatization of CBD. In the future, both European and national courts, politicians* and authorities will have to be guided by the court’s reasoning.”

In the case at hand, CBD was produced in the Czech Republic from legally grown hemp plants – and from the entire plant, including the leaves and flowers. The CBD was then imported to France, where it was filled into e-liquid cartridges. Under French law, however, only the fibers and seeds of the hemp may be used commercially.

For this reason, a court in Marseille sentenced the two former managing directors of the e-cigarette company to suspended prison sentences of 15 and 18 months and fines of 10,000 euros each. The French court of appeal now wanted to know from the ECJ whether this national regulation is at all compatible with the provisions on the free movement of goods in the Union.

The answer from Luxembourg is clear: since CBD is not an addictive substance, the provisions on the free movement of goods apply. The Court of Justice of the European Union justifies its ruling, among other things, with references to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (C61) and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances (C71). These two international treaties continue to govern global drug control and national drug laws today. The judges conclude:

“According to the current state of scientific knowledge to be taken into account, the CBD at issue, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly referred to as THC) […] does not appear to have psychotropic effects or harmful effects on human health. […] The national court must evaluate the available scientific data to satisfy itself that the real risk to public health claimed is not based on purely hypothetical considerations.”

Lorenza Romanese, Executive Director, European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA)

“EIHA welcomes the positive ruling of the ECJ as the European hemp sector finally needs a fair and coherent legal framework. We really hope that the Court’s position will set an example and that the European Commission will review its preliminary conclusion on the status of natural CBD accordingly.”

Daniel Kruse, is founder and managing director of a German group of companies, including Hempro Int. GmbH & Co. KG, headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany. The companies are dedicated to the cultivation, production as well as distribution of hemp and hemp products. As a hemp pioneer, Kruse has been involved in the field of industrial hemp for more than 25 years. In addition, he represents the interests of the industry as president of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA):

“If the hemp industry continues to be proactive and submits safety assessments and standards that will be achieved through the EIHA Novel Food application, then products will be able to be legally marketed throughout Europe in three years at the latest. The market growth will be enormous. The value of every euro invested in the consortium will increase exponentially. This is a great day for the hemp industry, its entrepreneurs, employees, consultants and investors.”

Source: Court of Justice of the European Union, Press Release No. 141/20, Luxembourg, November 19, 2020; Judgment in Case C-663/18 B S and C A v Ministère public and Conseil national de l’ordre des pharmaciens.


Hempro Int. GmbH & Co. KG
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About Hempro International

Hempro International GmbH & Co. KG is one of the leading companies in Europe producing a comprehensive range of raw materials and products from hemp in certified organic quality. Customers are the hemp industry as well as producers of food, cosmetics, textiles and accessories made from hemp.

Hempro Int., based in Düsseldorf, Germany, consistently advances the use of hemp for natural and climate-friendly products. Hemp is one of the oldest useful plants in the world and can be used in many ways as a renewable raw material with high environmental compatibility.

This post was translated from DeepL.