In a judgment on 10th July 2014, the Court of Justice finds that under EU law the term medicinal product does not include substances such as mixtures of herbs containing synthetic cannabinoids which have the effect of simply modifying physiological functions but are not such as to have any beneficial effects, either immediately or in the long term, on human health, are consumed solely to induce a state of intoxication and are, as such, harmful to human health.

That is the Court’s response to questions submitted by the Bundesgerichtshof (Federal Court, Germany), which, in two sets of criminal proceedings, is required to decide whether the sale of mixtures containing synthetic cannabinoids used as a marijuana substitute may give rise to criminal law proceedings on the ground of the unlawful sale of unsafe medicinal products. Two vendors of such mixtures (Mr D and Mr G) have been convicted of the sale of unsafe medicinal products by lower courts. Mr D was handed a suspended sentence of one year and nine months imprisonment, Mr G was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment and a fine of €200 000. At the material time, synthetic cannabinoids did not fall under the German law on narcotic drugs, so that the German authorities were unable to instigate criminal law proceedings on the basis of that law.

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