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German Federal Hemp Tea Case Decided

CBD cannabis leaf plant

A hemp tea seller from Braunschweig was charged with federal narcotics violation charges – but just released after a German federal court decided that they were not trying to “intoxify” anyone. The question is, what does this case really mean?

Here is the headline. The German Federal Court of Justice (BGH) has just annulled drug trafficking charges against hemp tea purveyors in Braunschweig. The district court sentenced the defendants to several months in prison but then placed them on probation. The federal court, however, dismissed the case not on the narcotics charge (in other words it did not disagree with the initial charge), but dismissed instead on the intent of the defendants to cause intoxication by distributing parts of the plants.

And here is the new confusion. According to some in the industry, this is a huge step forward – and on several fronts. Namely, if you are selling hemp flower and parts in Germany, with no intent to intoxify, even if you come in slightly “hot” on the THC side of the equation, are you set free from the restrictions of the German Narcotics Act? 

Technically, legally, no. That is where the many problems lie, no matter the other intriguing legal interpretations now floating in the blogosphere. This also has implications for all food products in the market.

According to the court decision, generally, per the opinion of some industry insiders, the more important case here is still the European Commission’s decision last fall. Namely that CBD is not a narcotic. Indeed, many in the German industry, including the company directly involved in this case, are calling for the removal of hemp from the German Narcotics Act, generally.

Until that happens, however, while the general market is absolutely going to be affected, it is not all clear sailing for the hemp and CBD industry.

What Are the Current Regulations to Watch?

When it comes to hemp, there are several big issues still in the room in Germany alone, let alone the rest of Europe. That is why harmonization of the standards across the region is so important. There has yet to be a “Farm Bill” in Europe for example, although again, the EC’s decision of last year has been a big step forward.

Beyond the discussion of “narcotic” or not, much less intent to intoxify, there are still processing and labeling discussions that fall under Novel Food, and which have also certainly not been finally addressed.

The most definitive silver lining in other words?  Hemp tea sellers are not going to get charged with drug trafficking charges again any time soon, if ever again, aus Deutschland. The rest is still evolving. Watch this space.

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