Man-Made Pot Gets a Boost as EU High Court Says It Isn’t a Drug

Jul 10, 2014 4:43 am ET

July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Man-made pot got a boost after the European Union’s highest court thwarted German efforts to prosecute sellers of synthetic cannabis as peddlers of illegal medicines.

Synthetic cannabis sold in herbal mixtures doesn’t “have any immediate or long-term beneficial effects on human health” and can’t be classed as a medicinal product, the EU Court of Justice said in an e-mailed statement today.

The judgment stymies German efforts to prosecute two men for selling herbal highs that authorities deemed to be unsafe medicines because man-made cannabis wasn’t classed as a narcotic drug. One man was jailed for four years and six months and fined 200,000 euros ($272,600). The other was given a suspended sentence of one year and nine months. Final decisions in their legal challenges will be made by the German courts.

While synthetic cannabinoids “generally induce a state of intoxication which may range from intense excitement to hallucinations,” it’s apparent that health effects “could not be achieved” and “considerable side effects were foreseeable due to the psychoactive effects of the substances,” the court said in its statement, citing pharmaceutical industry studies.

The cases are C-358/13 D and C-181/14 G