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Paris’s First Marijuana ‘Coffeeshops’ Open, But There’s a Catch

PHOTO Jiuguang Wang


Paris’s First Marijuana ‘Coffeeshops’ Open, But There’s a Catch

Change in French law mean “Swiss-style” shops offering CBD cannabis flower open.

The stores’ offerings are labeled “Do not smoke.” The products bear no guarantees for effect, medicinal or otherwise. Even the merchants themselves don’t advise consuming it — because, legally, all they’re selling is rope.

Yet lines to enter Paris’s “Cofyshop” over the weekend stretched far down the street just the same, as crowds of Parisians queued for up to two hours to be among the first to purchase cannabis legally in France — a first-in-a-lifetime experience, now possible within a grey area in the law that does not address high-CBD varieties sourced from hemp.

Historically, France has had some of the strictest regulations on cannabis in western Europe (and is in running only with the United Kingdom, where authorities recently seized oil from a 12-year-old epileptic, for the distinction of being the very strictest), and this despite some of the highest use rates on the continent.

But such restrictions do not apply to CBD products — a fine line also trod in other countries. Within the past few years, companies have offered for sale CBD “e-cigarettes.” And more recently, French authorities have clarified that national drug laws allow for possession and sale of actual raw cannabis flower to adults aged 18 and over.

Provided it has no more than 0.2 percent THC, the product is hemp — fuel, fiber, food — and not subject to drug laws, French authorities confirmed in November. (In America, authorities have declared that CBD is, in fact, marijuana, and subject to drug-control laws, which have been applied unevenly; health officials with the United Nations, meanwhile, have indicated that CBD does, in fact, provide medical benefits.)

And so with that began the commerce — and as images from over the weekend confirm, France has significant pent-up demand for cannabis, even if it is advertised for “aromatic purposes” only.

At least two stores in Paris began selling low-THC, high-CBD cannabis starting on June 5, with at least two shops in other cities, according to reports. More likely to follow: on Cofyshop’s website, a page asking the public if they’d like to open their own “Cofyshop” could be seen.

For now, all products are imported from Switzerland, where similar coffeeshops offering CBD-only cannabis have sprung up over the past few years. Prices per gram average about $13 to $16, according to reports.

The development drew immediate comparisons to Amsterdam, where coffeeshops selling THC-laden cannabis have attracted tourists for generations.

It’s not clear how long the lines around the block for CBD product will last. Several shoppers in line who gave interviews to media said they were there out of curiosity and novelty more than anything else—they don’t have any trouble buying THC cannabis on the black market, and would continue to do so regardless of how the CBD cannabis made them feel.

29-year old Joaquim Lousquy, Cofyshop’s proprietor, himself says that the product has a negligible effect.

“The effect is nothing,” he told The Local, before realizing he might have made a bad sales pitch. “Well, it’s small anyway but it will probably help most people feel relaxed.”

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