Luxembourg (AFP)

Two French pioneers of the hemp electronic cigarette on Wednesday lashed out at the European court for French regulations restricting the use of this plant to its fibers and seeds, considering it incompatible with that of the EU.

These two thirty-year-old Marseille, Sébastien Béguerie, consultant, and Antonin Cohen-Adad, now a business leader in Spain, launched in France in December 2014, "Kanavape", the first "100% legal" hemp electronic cigarette.

In January 2018, they had been sentenced at first instance by the Criminal Court of Marseille to 18 and 15 months suspended sentence and a fine of 10,000 euros, including for offenses relating to the drug.

The Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence had sent the case to Luxembourg, in order to clarify the following question of law: does France respect European law by prohibiting the electronic cigarette to hemp?

The equestrian's vaper used an oil containing cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive molecule of cannabis sativa L. (cultivated hemp), and less than 0.2% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychotropic substance of the plant.

Their oil respected this maximum rate, as demonstrated by analyzes.

The French legislator reproaches them for the use of a legally manufactured oil in the Czech Republic containing CBD extracted from all cannabis sativa L, including leaves and flowers, while France only allows the use of seeds and fibers .

"Raw hemp, the CBD as such but also the finished products all benefit from the free movement of products in the EU," said Evelyne van Keymeulen, a lawyer for one of the two defendants, before the court. EU Court of Justice based in Luxembourg.

"No other EU Member State limits the use of hemp to its fibers and seeds," she added.

For its part, the French Republic has argued that "the precautionary principle justifies the use of restrictive measures".

His representative, Ms. Mosser, stressed that "the long-term impact of CBD on the body has never been measured".

"The precautionary principle applies when there is scientific uncertainty, but in this case, there is little or no scientific uncertainty about the effects of CBD on human health," the representative of the European Commission, Alexander Lewis.

After the hearing on Wednesday, the Advocate General of the EU Court of Justice will give his opinion on 31 March 2020. He is often followed by the judges of Luxembourg who usually make their decision a few months later.

The response of the European justice could make jurisprudence, while France seems to be one of the most restrictive countries about the CBD.

© 2019 AFP