A European Court of Justice magistrate said yesterday that European Union member states cannot ban the import of CBD products because the extract is not considered a narcotic drug, Courthouse News reports.

In the nonbinding opinion, Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev said that “in the current state of scientific knowledge, it has not been established that CBD oil has psychotropic effects” and, therefore, the substance does not fall under EU drug conventions.

The case stems from the prosecution of the owners of Kanavape, a Marseille, France-based e-cigarette startup that imported hemp flower-derived CBD to France that was processed in the Czech Republic. Under French law, CBD can only be made from hemp seed and fiber, not flower, and can contain no THC. French Health Ministry testing concluded the products contained no THC.

Kanavape owners Sébastien Béguerie and Antonin Cohen-Adad were ultimately convicted of drug charges, including using the entire hemp plant to manufacture CBD. They appealed the conviction and the French appeals court referred the case to the EU Court of Justice, the report says. The Court of Justice was asked to consider whether CBD imports could be banned under the EU’s free movement of goods policy.

The French government argued that it banned CBD products out of an abundance of caution, but Tanchev opined that for the government to ban something it would first need to identify “potentially negative consequences for health,” which he concluded it did not. Tanchev said that France could only impose such a ban if it were to find that such a risk existed after “a comprehensive scientific assessment.”

France is the EU’s largest hemp producer for textiles and paper.

The decision is, essentially, an advisory opinion and not binding; however, the legal opinions of the magistrate are upheld in about 80 percent of cases heard by the full court, which is expected to issue a ruling on the case later this year, the report says.

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