Is It All In The Tea Leaves? The Hemp Tea Ruling In German Federal Court

In late March, a strange case came before Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (the Bundesgerichtshof or BGH). Hemp tea sellers were charged by the city of Braunschweig for the sale of hemp flowers and leaves used for tea and convicted in January by a regional court under drug trafficking laws.

The BGH ruled, contrary to the regional court, however, that Germany’s Narcotics Act does not “generally prohibit” the sale of hemp flowers and leaves for human consumption. Further, they overturned the conviction on the grounds that the regional court did not fully determine whether the defendants willfully sold their products for the purposes of intoxication. 

The question is, how did such a strange case end up in federal court? Especially when, as raised by the plaintiff’s attorney, other much bigger companies in Germany are doing the same thing and getting away with it. And further, will this kind of challenge (literally in court) be the next transition to change in the face of ongoing failure of both regional authorities (at the EU and at a sovereign level) to set rules that more localized states will have to follow?

A History of The Hemp Tea Case

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