In fields across Switzerland the harvest time for cannabis is coming to an end, and workers are distributing the crop to shops in France and Switzerland. Soon, the plants could be available across much of Europe.
The man behind the operation is 31-year-old Jonas Duclos, a former banker, and what he is doing is legal. His business, CBD420, sells BlueDream, a strain of hemp cultivated to ensure the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, is low enough (0.2%) to be lawful in most European countries. The UK is one of the exceptions: any trace of THC is outlawed.
While low in THC, BlueDream is high in cannabidiol (CBD), another compound found in cannabis, which is non-psychoactive and has been shown to have medicinal qualities, for example, acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory. CBD is not a controlled substance in Europe, and in Britain does not require a licence from the Home Office to be sold if it can be extracted from cannabis.
Duclos’s “legal weed” is on sale in more than 1,000 tobacco shops in Switzerland, where THC is allowed up to 1% concentration, and in 15 to 20 shops in France, where the limit is 0.2%.
“There is a loophole that lets us bring it on the market,” Duclos explains. The plan is now to take the product elsewhere in Europe, with Italy among his next targets. While the company’s low-THC hemp is illegal in the UK, its CBD oils and balms will be available in some British shops from mid-December.
To comply with European law, Duclos has to make sure his CBD products are not marketed as medicines. Last year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ruled that any product containing CBD marketed as a medicine must have a licence before it can be sold. Read more