Amsterdam Genetics has a loyal community of fans and followers in France. But many people wonder whether ordering cannabis seeds and then growing them is legal under French law. Consumption is (still) banned, but change seems to be in the air, and after all, connoisseur has definite French roots… This blog explores the legal aspects of l’herbe and the lively cannabis culture in France today.
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Cannabis In France: Liberté, Fraternité, Légalité?
With one of the highest numbers of consumers in the EU and paradoxically the most restrictive policy, cannabis in France is a delicate business. In the 19th century, cannabis was the recreational drug of the bohemian elite but is nowadays a highly controlled substance. Law enforcement can severely sanction consumers and growers. Growing hemp (under 0,3% THC) on an industrial scale and selling CBD is nevertheless legal. And, in February 2022, the French government officially authorized the consumption of medicinal cannabis under strict control. What does it mean exactly? Can you grow medicinal cannabis and sell it in France? What is legal and what is reprehensible as a consumer and/or grower? Although the legislation is not crystal clear, this blog will, for your own sake, guide you through the French cannabis jungle.
Is Cannabis Legal In France?
NO: consumption, possession, sale, and growing of psychoactive (above 0,3% THC) recreational cannabis is not legal in France. As a consumer, depending on circumstances and the quantity of weed in your possession, you will have to pay a lump sum and/or will face a short jail sentence, up to 1 year. As a seller or distributor, the stakes are higher: you risk a prison sentence of up to 10 years, plus a fine of €7,5 million. And if you are growing cannabis illegally in France, you must be prepared to end up in an overpopulated dungeon for about 20 years. And the fine is still €7,5 million.
YES: you may use, grow, and distribute hemp on any scale and open a CBD shop. In 2021, the legislation authorized the production and commercialization of CBD products although you cannot sell hemp flowers and leaves. And to remain legal, CBD should have a maximum percentage of 0,3% THC.
In other words, THC is clearly the devil here. The psychoactive substance whose potency scares the French government is not welcome in France.
What About Medicinal Cannabis In France?
Recently, medicinal cannabis is on the rise everywhere in the world. Numerous scientific studies have proven the potent effect of cannabinoids, including CBD and THC to relieve many symptoms. As a result, many countries have legalized cannabis. Now, people who chemical drugs cannot treat can benefit from medicinal cannabis.
In February 2022, the French government launched an experiment for the use of medical cannabis until March 2023. This program is meant to treat a maximum of 3000 patients for specific conditions: neuropathic pain, epilepsy, spasticity, palliative care, MS, and chemo patients. A patient can benefit from a cannabis prescription of cannabis oil capsules and vaporized dried flowers, only if other treatments have no effect or undesirable side effects. The therapeutic impact of cannabis is thoroughly examined and the evaluation will determine the outcome of the experiment.
Growing Medicinal Cannabis
Officially since the decree of 17th February 2022, it is legal to grow medicinal cannabis in France under precise regulations different from growing hemp due to the presence of THC in cannabis. Until March 2023 though, the legislation for the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis is still to be determined. It is not yet the moment for potential cannabis growers in France to make big plans.
The History Of Cannabis In France
Hemp seems to always have been part of the French landscape on an industrial scale for different purposes such as paper, natural oil, textile, building isolation, and much more. France is still today a leader in the market of hemp production with 50% of the world’s seeds.
Psychoactive cannabis, on the other hand, is forbidden since 1916. It was first mentioned in Egypt by Napoleon in 1800 and was consequently considered a narcotic substance. The colonial past of France has promoted the illegal importation of hashish from north Africa, but domestic demand for ‘l’herbe’ was already present before those days.
Cannabis has inspired renowned French poets such as Baudelaire, Balzac, and Gérard de Nerval to write their prose. There was even a chic Club des Hashishins created in Paris in the 19th century where the intellectuals and artists of the time could experiment freely with the effects of cannabis and other substances such as opium. It seems cannabis had sadly suffered the same prejudice as absinth which was the favorite alcoholic beverage among European artists in the 19th century. It was subsequently forbidden in France due to obscure reasons in 1915.
Between strict regulations, pressure from the consumers, and the international legalization of cannabis, France seems to be at a crossroads that will determine the future of cannabis legalization on its ground.
The Future Of Cannabis In France
Optimism must prevail, hang in there, as they say…But even with a good dose of genuine hope, let’s face it, the legalization of cannabis in France is not yet a reality. French president Macron persists in sticking to the actual legislation about recreational cannabis despite the out-of-hand criminality around cannabis in Paris suburbs and cities like Marseille.
Moreover, as everybody knows strict regulation does not curb cannabis consumption. On the contrary, the taste of the forbidden is attractive and it encourages underground traffic. We might think that the intolerance toward cannabis is an authoritarian decision of the government. But most of the conservative French are against legalization. Even the CBD “coffeeshop” must face complaints from the neighborhood.
The only solid hope lies in the full legalization of medicinal cannabis after March 2023. If the experimentation is successful, it will generate new opportunities for growers and seed banks as well as create employment. And the most important is that cannabis will be available to relieve many patients from pain and discomfort.
Ordering Cannabis Seeds From France
Okay, so we hear you thinking: “sure, but can I order Amsterdam Genetics cannabis seeds from France?” Well, YES, you can, but NO growing allowed: if you are in France, you are allowed to purchase any cannabis seeds online in the EU, for instance from Amsterdam Genetics in the Netherlands. But it is for collection purposes only. You may receive cannabis seeds per post, but it is not legal to germinate them or grow weed plants from them…
Theoretically, it is not possible for the French authorities to prove that the cannabis seeds you order are for growing purposes except if the “gendarmes” discover a hidden weed plantation, even if it’s just a little tent or personal garden project. And then you could be in big trouble. Obviously, we discourage anyone from violating their local laws, so there you have it: you can order, but you can’t grow cannabis in France!
Growing Cannabis In France
French people have a reputation to follow the rules their own way, and regarding growing cannabis, especially since the pandemic, things have evolved. More and more people are growing cannabis for different reasons. And it is becoming increasingly complicated for the authorities to penalize a grower. You can even buy any grower gear legally in France.
According to the statistics, three profiles of growers are increasingly active:
- the trendy people who want to grow their own cannabis and be able to have the best quality on hand for recreational use or medicinal reasons. They generally grow 3 to 5 plants at home for their personal use.
- The cannabis lover who grows for his or her own consumption, and wants to spread the love by generating a secondary income, selling to friends and acquaintances: 20 to 30 plants.
- The industrial ambitious grower who has solid distribution and buyer’s network: 100 plants and above.
In fact, although no one should go purposely against the law, each potential grower balances the risks and make his own decision. In France as in other countries, this game of cat and mouse on the verge of legality is puzzling and who knows how it will evolve…
Anyway, you may already build a beautiful collection of the best strains just in case, and order in our online shop your favorite weed varieties! Our team is always there to guide your choice if you hesitate, but you can also read our detailed grow blogs with enlightening tips from the experts. The wind might change direction…and you will be ready to grow wonderful cannabis in France, too!