November 19, 2020

European Court of Justice Rules that CBD is not a narcotic

2min read

In a landmark case for CBD in Europe, the highest court of the EU has ruled that CBD is not a narcotic and that the principle of free movement of goods within the union applies to legally produced CBD products.

November 19th, 2020

Conor O’Brien, George Brown


The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled this morning on a pivotal case involving the legality of CBD within the EU. The case involves defendants Kanavape who have been under prosecution in France for importing CBD to be marketed in vaporiser cartridges. The five judges on the ECJ were to rule whether an EU state can place a ban on the marketing of a CBD product which is legally produced in another state. This case rested on whether CBD is considered a narcotic under EU law, as determined by interpretation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Substances.

The ECJ ruled this morning that CBD should not be considered a narcotic under the 1961 UN Convention, as CBD does not “have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health”. The Court said that while CBD could technically have been included in the legislation set out in the UN convention, banning CBD would be “contrary to the general spirit of that convention and to its objective of protecting ‘the health and welfare of mankind’”. Furthermore, the court ruled that EU states cannot ban the marketing of CBD legally produced in another member state unless a risk to public health “appears sufficiently established”.

This ruling will have large scale implications for CBD in Europe and further abroad. Within the EU, it is now likely that all nations will accept the marketing of CBD produced not only from seeds and stalks but from leaves and flowers, as is the case with the products of Kanavape. More than 50 companies who are applying to register their products as Novel Foods within the EU will now be able to resume this process which would eventually allow marketing of their CBD food substances. The court’s decision may also influence the position of the EU states at the upcoming UN vote in December on the classification of cannabis in international law. The EU had previously leaned against declassifying CBD under international law but now may well support the motion which could potentially sway the outcome.

Read the full ruling, here.

To join the conversation on CBD, cannabis and psychedelics in Europe and Globally, see the Prohibition Partners Live conference running from 17th-20th of November 2020. To celebrate the court ruling, a 40% discount on tickets is being offered via the code EUCBD40.

Enjoy access to the full panel discussion: It’s Not EU, It’s Me: The European Cannabis Puzzle

 For more in-depth information, market data and strategic support, contact the Prohibition Partners consultancy team at or download one of our industry-leading reports.

European Court of Justice Rules that CBD is not a narcotic

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