In Lyon, they are currently growing like mushrooms, some would say hallucinogenic, but this is not the case because they sell very “light” cannabis with a level of THC (the psychotropic active substance which legally does not exceed 0, 2%, compared with an average THC level of the drug product itself which is around 10%).
These new stores called CBD (short for cannabidiol, one of the active substances), often have exotic names: Hemp Concept or Frenchy Freeze, or even Nativus France, a small chain born in Lyon which has already opened branches in Saint-Etienne and Roanne. ; or simply CBD shop.
On their shelves, there are infusions, cosmetics and flowers of “100% legal” cannabis, etc. as generally indicated on their storefront.
If these stores can prosper in this way in complete peace of mind, it is because they are not considered to be drugs: that is what European law requires.
Honeys, infusions, cosmetics, oils, flowers and resin with very low THC levels are stored on wooden shelves or in display cases, as in organic grocery stores …
In the lease of these CBD shops, the commercial activity is often called “sale of organic products”.
According to the president of the Professional Hemp Trade Union (SPC), the profession is getting organized …, quoted by the newspaper “Le Monde”, there were around a hundred shops in France, before a ban on CBD was pronounced in June 2018. Their number then fell to around thirty.
Following a decision by the European Court of Justice, the revival was rapid: there are now nearly 300 stores in France where there are now ten CBD stores.
A decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union
Indeed, on November 19, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) confirmed the hopes of the supporters of the liberalization of this market, by deciding that a Member State cannot prohibit the marketing of legally produced cannabidiol. in another Member State. In addition, the CJEU concluded that CBD is not a narcotic product.
The said European Court of Justice was seized in 2018 by the Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal following the conviction of two Marseille entrepreneurs who had marketed a CBD-based electronic cigarette under the Kanavape brand.
Who are the customers entering these new CBD shops? “Our clientele is very diverse, ranging from 18 to 77 years old,” explains Fabian, salesperson in the CBD store in Vaise (9th arrondissement of Lyon), under the Nativus brand.
And to continue: “There are buyers who come for medical reasons, medical cannabis is not authorized in France, but also consumers who obtained their supplies from dealers and who were uncomfortable with the transgression of the law, in short, consumers of recreational cannabis: executives, artisans and construction workers… ”
What does this salesperson put forward when questioned by his customers: “We highlight the relaxing, relaxing, anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving side of our products…”
There remains the question that everyone is asking: do these stores selling “light” cannabis constitute an additional step towards the legalization of cannabis as in Canada or certain American states? The future will tell, but for now a majority of French people are opposed to legalization.
One foot in the door
However, we are talking more and more insistently of the legalization of “therapeutic cannabis” which would constitute, there, an additional step: an experiment is currently underway in France under the aegis of ANSES (National Agency for drug and health product safety).
What is certain is that prohibition – as we have seen for alcohol – does not work. France currently has, according to reliable sources, nearly 1.5 million regular cannabis users for whom cannabis use was decriminalized last summer, a campaign promise from Emmanuel Macron, with a fixed fine of 200 euros when it comes to detention for own use.
In any case, this prospect of legalizing cannabis in France makes investors salivate, who with these developing CBD stores, have stepped in the door …