a flourishing business and a French paradox

Since the sale of CBD or cannabidiol, the non-psychotropic hemp molecule (unlike THC), is authorized in France, 1,000 specialized stores have opened throughout the country. They offer derivative products such as cosmetics, oils or infusions with relaxing properties. A very promising new market… especially for David, who in three years found himself at the head of a “CBD empire”, with 167 franchises.

It is hemp flowers and the resin extracted from them that represent its best sales. In one of its sheds, 600 kilos of flowers are stored, for a market value of nearly 4 million euros. A stock to make the biggest drug traffickers green with envy… but all these buds are certified THC-free. They are also certified European, mainly from Luxembourg or Italy. Because, and this is a French paradox, if the cultivation of these flowers is legal, the extraction and sale of their CBD is prohibited. For merchants like David, it is therefore impossible to offer “made in France” CBD.

Despite the ban, the French agricultural sector is getting organized

For French farmers who have embarked on the hemp adventure, the disappointment is significant. So production is organized illegally. Jouany Chatoux bet four years ago on the cultivation of this new “or green”. According to him, there would be today in France”about 600 farmers who grow hemp for flower production“, versus”a dozen three years ago“.

“That’s the famous flowers of discord, which presented a big problem to Mr. Darmanin, who considered it a narcotic, when it’s purely an agricultural commodity. It’s legal everywhere, in the worldwide, except in France…”

Jouany Chatoux, farmer in Pigerolles (Creuse)

in “Special Envoy”

In his farm in Pigerolles, in the Creuse (a department which wants to be a pilot in the hemp sector, in particular for therapeutic purposes), the plants of Cannabis-sativa extend over six hectares. With his few seasonal workers, he is in the middle of a clandestine harvest. According to French law, Jouany should destroy the flowers and use only the stem, or the seed and the product made from the seed, he explains. A “aberration“, according to him : “It’s as if we were allowed to raise pigs, and were forbidden to sell the hams which represented 50% of the value of the pig.”

The one who is nicknamed “the slinger of the Creuse” comes from a family of farmers. In twenty years, he says he has”tried everything: direct sales, organic, high-quality products“, without ever being able to release sufficient income.”California, he said pointing to the heads of his plants, it is a product that allows us to live with dignity from our work, without asking for subsidies. We don’t ask for anything, we don’t ask for money to launch the industry, we just ask for freedom, to let us work.

Excerpt from “CBD Madness”, a report to see in “Special Envoy” on December 16, 2021.

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