Harvest time for cannabis is coming to an end and workers are distributing cannabis to shops in France and Switzerland. Soon, the medicine could be available across most of Europe.
31-year-old Jonas Duclos, a former banker, and his business, CBD420, sells Blue Dream, a strain of cannabis cultivated to ensure the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is low enough point-two percent (0.2%) to be lawful in most European countries. The UK is one of the exceptions: any trace of THC is outlawed.
While low in THC, BlueDream is high in cannabidiol (CBD), another compound found in cannabis, which is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have medicinal qualities, such as, acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory. CBD is not a controlled substance in Europe, and in Britain does not require a license from the Home Office to be sold if it can be extracted from cannabis.
Duclos’s “legal cannabis” is currently selling in more than one thousand tobacco shops across Switzerland, where THC is allowed up to one percent (1%) concentration, and in fifteen to twenty shops in France, where the limit is point-two percent (0.2%).
“There is a loophole that lets us bring it on the market,” Duclos explains.
The plan is now to take the product elsewhere in Europe, with Italy among his next targets. While the company’s low-THC hemp is illegal in the UK, its CBD oils and balms will be available in some British shops from mid-December.
To comply with European law, Duclos has to make sure his CBD products are not marketed as any type of medicine. Last year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ruled that any product containing CBD marketed as a medicine must have a licence before it can be sold.
Ian Hamilton, a speaker in mental health at York University, explains:
“There is considerable confusion about the legal status of products which contain cannabis extracts such as cannabidiol. Suppliers of these products were instructed by the MHRA to remove any products they were selling until the appropriate licence was obtained. But this will leave many people who use these products unsure if they are breaking the law or not.”
“Some CBD products are already marketed as nutritional supplements. But irrespective of how it is marketed, the main risk to the individual is probably not that of being arrested … if they try a do-it-yourself treatment they may be putting their health at risk, and even if they do consult their GP it is unlikely they will have sufficient evidence or knowledge to advise the individual.”
Duclos says the slow expansion of BlueDream in France is because of uncertainty as to how the french government will respond.
“Every shop gets an order of 100 jars to prevent any reaction from the authorities … But the demand is huge.”
“If the French government goes against it, then that is its choice, but the population there are now very pro-cannabis. We shall see; it is obviously not our decision and we will comply and stop any distribution in France if required. For now, all we can do is make sure our products respect the THC level under 0.2% and just like in Switzerland, we are not allowed to market hemp as a medicine. We don’t recommend people smoke it. Even if someone can experience potential benefits, smoking is never healthy.”
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Several European countries have relaxed their laws, including the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal, and in the US twenty-nine states have formally legalized use of the medicine.