In recent years, the cannabinoid market has seen a worldwide boost - exploding economies and providing people with a safer alternative to their ailments. In 2021, the global CBD market held a value of €5.2 billion. This number will only go up, with an estimated market value of €47 billion by 2028.
In Europe alone, the total market value was worth €1.9 billion in 2020, with an annual growth rate of 18.5 percent. With this massive economic boost, Europe is set to take over the U.S as the biggest CBD market in the world.
While the market is expanding, there are still strict regulations one has to follow in Europe. Forty-four countries are in Europe, so regulating them all with one set of rules is not possible. In this article, we will focus on the European Union and the United Kingdom.
Is CBD legal in the EU and the UK?
Europe still considers high THC cannabis a narcotic drug. CBD is a cannabis extract, so as you would expect, legislation is strict. In the European Union, it is legal to grow and sell hemp products containing CBD, but the THC level must be less than 0.3 percent. This is a welcome change from the previous 0.2 percent limit, which still exists in the United Kingdom.
Most EU member countries allow the cultivation and selling of CBD and hemp, but laws vary from country to country. Some allow CBD oils and vape products, while others do not. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side of the law. Always buy from an approved vendor who adheres to the 0.3 percent THC limit.
27 countries are part of the European Union, so it is useful to know exactly where you stand. Take a look at the breakdown below to better understand the limits in the EU and UK.
New amendment of CBD as a novel food
The European Food Safety Authority has announced that their scientists cannot establish the safety of CBD as a novel food. As a result, the "novel food" classification is now on hold. Before you panic, this does not mean CBD is illegal, rather that it needs to fall under a different classification. You may have some trouble getting products such as CBD oils and edibles, but for the most part, it is still legal.
CBD legal status in the European Union and the United Kingdom
According to EU law, "hemp" is any cannabis plant with less than 0.2 percent THC, so anything above this, and it's marijuana. Because of its psychoactive properties, THC in marijuana remains illegal. It is hard to say when this might change. Fortunately, each member of the European Union has slightly different laws about CBD.
In 2018, changes in the law prohibited CBD as a food or medicine. THC levels of less than 0.3 percent in flowers, extracts, and hashish are legal.
All CBD edibles and CBD oils are illegal unless you have a doctor's prescription. Products containing less than 0.2 percent THC are now classified as tobacco products.
Hemp cultivation is legal so long as you have a government-issued licence. CBD products are not permitted to contain more than 0.3 percent THC.
Low THC (less than 0.2%) is legal to possess, grow, and use. It must come from industrial hemp.
Republic of Cyprus
CBD is legal so long as THC concentrations are not more than 0.2%. CBD oil is also legal so long as it comes from industrial hemp.
Czech law states that hemp is a cannabis plant with a THC content of less than 0.3% in dry weight. Individuals can grow hemp on a 100 m2 area without government intervention.
Regulation of CBD is complex, with several regulatory bodies enforcing restrictions. These fall on companies and producers. You can buy CBD with a 0.2% THC concentration.
CBD products cannot be marketed as food or dietary supplements. CBD is not classed as a psychotropic substance, so it is legal. There is a 0.2% THC limit.
Several national and EU regulations govern CBD in Finland. Each product goes through regulation as it goes on the market and must adhere to a 0.2% THC limit.
CBD can only be sold as a CBD isolate containing no THC. Hemp with less than 0.2% THC is legal for cultivation.
THC products containing less than 0.2% THC are available over the counter. However, they cannot advertise its health purposes. Medical CBD is available with a prescription.
Cultivating industrial hemp is completely legal. CBD oil and products are available so long as it’s less than 0.2% THC.
Cannabis with less than 0.2% THC becomes classified as hemp. It is legal to use, sell, and buy.
CBD products must come from hemp extracts and contain less than 0.2% THC.
Italy is more lenient than other countries, allowing THC levels of up to 0.6% in CBD products. Buying and selling is legal, but cultivation is against the law.
CBD cannot be sold as a food or medical product, but instead as a "souvenir". Production of hemp under 0.2% THC levels is legal.
CBD is available from authorised suppliers, but it must be grown for food or fibre. Medical use of CBD is also allowed with 0.2% THC concentrations.
Luxembourg made history in 2019, becoming the first country to legalise possession and use of recreational cannabis. Adults over 18 can legally buy marijuana, and CBD products are available over-the-counter as long as it has less than 0.3% THC.
While a doctor’s prescription is necessary to buy CBD, many stores sell it over the counter. It is not fully legal, but authorities turn a blind eye to these actions.
CBD in the Netherlands follows strict regulation. CBD vape oil is illegal, and THC levels cannot exceed 0.05%. Marijuana is legal for recreational use.
CBD must come from industrial hemp with a THC level of less than 0.2%. Poland has one of the most prosperous hemp and CBD product markets in Europe.
CBD falls under the classification of a medicine. It is only available from pharmacies with a non-refillable doctor’s prescription. This only applies to CBD with 0.2% THC. You can get THC-free cannabis over the counter.
As long as you adhere to European Union regulations, hemp can be grown. CBD with a concentration of less than 0.2% is completely legal.
CBD is still considered a controlled substance, so only the Ministry of health can approve its sale. It cannot be grown or sold by an individual.
CBD oil and derivatives are completely legal so long as the THC is less than 0.3%. Dry hemp plants have a THC limit of 0.3%.
Commercial consumption of CBD is illegal in Spain, but it can be sold as a cosmetic for skincare. For medical use, CBD with less than 0.2% THC is available.
The Swedish Medical Agency considers CBD an illegal compound as it comes from cannabis. Any amount of THC in Sweden is banned, so products must contain 0% THC levels.
So long as it has less than 0.2% THC and comes from an authorised dealer, CBD is completely legal. CBD brands cannot make medical claims. Hemp can also be grown in the United Kingdom.
Where to buy CBD in the EU and the UK
With the massive expanse of the CBD market in recent years, many independent retailers have begun to pop up. Thousands of online stores now exist, with a huge selection of CBD products. Just to name a few: CBD oils, pills, and skincare ointments. These are great if you are looking for anonymity or don’t want to leave the house.
Buying CBD also depends on your region. Some pharmacies may sell it if it is a medical product. CBD smoke shops have also become popular and are a great way to meet like-minded people and get good advice about CBD.
If CBD is not completely legal in your region, it is likely a matter of time before legislation opens up. Research into CBD is still in the early phases, so as science deems it safe to use, governments will do the same.
There is a huge market for CBD if you are looking to grow, sell, or use. Germany and the United Kingdom are setting the pace, with many other countries following suit. Soon, everyone will be able to draw benefits from cannabis and its derivatives.