The European CBD market is expected to grow over 400% through 2023! It is expected to boom over the next four years according to a leading consumer insights and marketing intelligence firm for the legal CBD and cannabis industries.
The crowning stroke on top of the European CBD market is the 2020 Kanavape judgment. In a historic case, the European Court of Justice declared that CBD is not a narcotic.
It would be an understatement to say that CBD has become popular. However, a major problem continues to be an issue for consumers- the varied CBD laws across Europe.
The European Union Law on CBD
Europe is huge and keeping that in mind, an economic and political group called European Union or EU was formed. The EU includes 27 members as of 2021. Under EU law, CBD-related products can only be sold if registered under the Novel Food Regulation.
Under Article 3 of the Novel Food Regulation, novel food is defined as:
“Any food that was not used for human consumption to a significant degree within the Union before 15 May 1997.”
At the beginning of 1998, the European Commission clearly stated that hemp was not considered a novel food and now the CBD businesses are being asked to register for novel food licenses even if the concentrate is derived from hemp.
Do you see the problem? To register or not to register continues to be a point of confusion for business owners. On top of it, each EU country has its laws in place.
If it all feels overwhelmingly confusing then we completely understand. We have made it easier for you to understand with our map and country-wise CBD law landscape.
Solving Europe’s CBD Puzzle
Before we begin, remember the whole world is debating about CBD, cannabis, hemp, and THC. The research on these subjects is in process and for the majority of the countries, everything falls under the same umbrella leading to highly restrictive and confusing laws on CBD.
On the other hand, this chaos has the potential to explode the nascent CBD market especially after the European Commission ruled in 2020 that CBD is not a narcotic drug and said:
“It does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health”
Since then, Europe has moved towards creating a more harmonized CBD market. For instance, on May 1, 2021, Slovakia became the last EU country to remove CBD from the narcotic substances list. The majority of the countries have established medical use of CBD but any other form such as food supplement or cosmetics is still under discussion.
In Western Europe, CBD is legal except in Liechtenstein and Monaco. On the other hand, Eastern Europe has conservative and restrictive laws. In Northern Europe, countries like Finland and Sweden are trying hard to persuade their government to create a more liberal CBD market. For Greece in Southern Europe, it looks like they can recover from the 2009 economic crisis with the help of CBD!
Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and we request you to do your own diligent research to understand the laws in your own country.
Keeping this in mind, now buckle up your seatbelt because we have mapped out the European CBD laws for you. Are you ready?
|Austria||Legal with Restrictions|
|Belgium||Legal for Medical Use|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||Legal Grey Area|
|Czhech Republic||Legal for Medical Use|
|Denmark||Legal with Restrictions|
|Finland||Legal for Medical Use|
|France||Legal Grey Area|
|Germany||Legal for Medical Use|
|Hungary||Legal with Restrictions|
|Latvia||Legal Grey Area|
|Malta||Legal for Medical Use|
|North Macedonia||Legal for Medical Use|
|Norway||Legal for Medical Use|
|Slovenia||Legal for Medical Use|
|Serbia||Legal Grey Area|
|Sweden||Legal for Medical Use|
Austria – CBD is Kind of Legal
According to the Addictive Drugs Act and the Ordinance of Addictive Drugs, cannabis is illegal to consume in any form.
CBD as a pure substance, extracted from a select few hemp plants with less than 0.3% THC is legal. The medical usage is still limited by the Austrian Trade Act issued by the Federal Ministry for Health under which certain authorized pharmacies can produce and sell medical CBD.
Belgium – Medical CBD is Legal
There are no specific regulations in Belgium regarding CBD. However, medical CBD is available by prescription such as Sativex.
According to CMS Law, since 2020, CBD oil for external use is easily available in pharmacies which is a good integrator for more liberal laws on CBD in the future!
France – CBD is Legal With 0% THC
France is Europe’s largest hemp grower and it is legal for industrial purposes. The production is guided by less than 0.2% THC present in the hemp plant.
Medical cannabis can be attained with a valid prescription from the doctor.
No specific laws are regulating “CBD” and therefore, the entrepreneurs are selling products but at the same time, they are getting detained too. The future is uncertain and one can hope a more clear law will bring France in line with more liberal countries like Canada.
As of now, the French government is pushing for further research to assess the capacity of cannabis for epilepsy and other serious medical conditions.
Germany – CBD is Legal With Prescription
CBD is legal for serious medical conditions with prescription in Germany. According to Prohibition Partners, an estimated 1.2 lac patients bought CBD worth 75 million euros.
Germany is set to be the biggest CBD market and it is most definitely trying to create a larger cannabis market like Canada and the USA.
Germany is moving towards a positive change. Recently, Central Innovation Programme for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (ZIM) granted over a quarter of a million Euros to Berlin-based company, Becanex to develop a cannabinoid-containing emulsion for industrial food production.
Luxembourg – CBD is Legal
Luxembourg was on its way towards the legalization of all cannabis before many other countries in the world. They decriminalized cannabis possession in 2001.
Their enthusiasm to build the CBD and cannabis industry was made crystal clear when the government of Luxembourg tripled its medical cannabis budget in 2020.
It is one of the select few European countries that has plans of legalizing even recreational cannabis or marijuana. The detailed plans are already under discussion since February 2020!
Liechtenstein – CBD is Illegal
According to the THC Times, “all signs point to neither medicinal nor recreational cannabis being legalized here”.
As of now, Liechtenstein’s government has no intention of legalizing CBD or cannabis, or hemp with or without THC. The local groups are conducting their research in the hope to join the revolutionary European CBD laws. Let’s wait and watch the future unfold in front of us.
Monaco – CBD is Illegal
In Monaco, cannabis, and cocaine land you in jail. Yes, cocaine and cannabis fall under the same category. CBD is yet to be researched in the country.
The state of legality for CBD remains unknown and we can only hope that it will find a green signal somewhere down the road.
Netherlands – CBD is Legal
The Netherlands has been a forerunner in understanding the value of CBD, hemp, and cannabis too.
The Dutch law has allowed the consumption of medical cannabis with prescription since 2003 and is guided by the Dutch Medicines Act.
CBD products made from hemp and with less than 0.2% THC are legal in the country.
In the latest development, the government is experimenting with coffee shops to clear the way for recreational cannabis. Cool experiment, right?
Switzerland – CBD is legal
According to Swiss law, medical cannabis (irrespective of its CBD content) with less than 1% THC can be obtained by doctor’s prescription whereas if it has more than 1% THC then the patient needs authorization from the Federal Office of Public Health.
Beyond medical purposes, CBD is used for cosmetics, liquid e-cigarettes, and food products. For CBD-containing food, prior Federal marketing authorization is mandatory.
On the other hand, authorization for hemp seeds/oil/flour needs no such prior marketing authorization.
In recent times, Switzerland has made more positive changes in pursuit of not just CBD but cannabis overall. On 24 June 2021, a new amendment was introduced by the Federal Council, allowing patients to obtain cannabis-based treatments without authorization from the Federal Office of Public health.
United Kingdom – CBD is Legal
CBD is easily accessible in the UK and is not legally controlled in the country. Unlike other cannabis-based products where Home Office authorization is necessary, the same does not apply to CBD-based products.
In the latest development, the UK in January 2021 granted licenses to grow cannabis for commercial medical use, a boost for the cannabis market.
The CBD market share of the UK is phenomenal. It is expected to grow up to 1 billion euros in 2025, equivalent to the entire UK herbal supplement in 2016. With the present supportive government, the UK will rule the CBD market in Europe and maybe the world very soon.
Belarus – CBD is Illegal
Belarus has strict laws on cannabis and it can land you in jail. The country’s young population is trying to legalize it, citing neighboring European countries but it looks like there’s not much support for now.
Bulgaria – Cannabis is Illegal and No Information on CBD
No specific reference is available to CBD in the law. There is a reference to cannabis under The regulations are dictated by the Bulgarian Narcotic Substances and Precursors Control Act (NSPCA) which classifies it as Schedule I of “Plants and substances with a high degree of risk for the public health due to the harmful effect from its abuse, which is forbidden for use in the humane and veterinary medicine”.
However, industrial hemp production is possible if they are intended for fiber, seeds for animals, and has less than 0.2% THC by weight.
Czech Republic – Medical CBD is Legal
A license from the State Institute for Drug Control is required for selling medical CBD.
The legal caveats for consumers are:
- Only 180 grams in total of dry cannabis is allowed per person per month
- An electronic prescription from a healthcare professional is compulsory
- Available for certain kinds of medical issues such as chronic inconsolable pain, nausea, and treatment for HIV disease
In the latest development, Czech Republic will be implementing new amendments to medical cannabis regulations which will be creating more responsibility on the growers.
Hungary – CBD is Legal but with Restrictive Laws
CBD is not regarded as a controlled substance in Hungary. This might look like good news but its use and legal frameworks vary depending on the type of product.
For example, medicinal CBD- can be imported with the authorization of OGYÉI for individual patient use only.
Hungary is not very keen on legalizing cannabis for medical use and it proved its intention during the 2020 UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting by not voting in line with other European Union members.
Poland – CBD is Legal
Poland has no specific regulation on CBD. It recognizes the difference based on the THC content between cannabis and hemp.
Only industrial hemp-derived with less than 0.2% THC concentration is legal in Poland.
In 2017, it also made medical cannabis legal under the Act on Counteracting Drug Addiction.
Moldova – CBD is Illegal
Stanislav Grosu, a psychiatrist from Moldova, writes in ICANNA:
In the Republic of Moldova cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabis oil, and tetrahydrocannabinol are included in the 1st Table of psychotropic substances with government ordinance from 2004 (1,2). In this group, there are substances with no medical value and no medical use, parallel to UN Drug Conventions dating since 1961, 1971, and 1988.
The country’s doctors, activists, and many citizens are trying to persuade the government to look into the therapeutic value of CBD. What decision the government takes is yet to be seen though.
Romania – CBD with 0% THC is Legal
CBD products such as oils or creams or balms are available over the counter and legal in Romania. The only condition is that these products should not contain any THC.
THC is prohibited by the law and is considered a high-risk drug. That’s why CBD edibles and flowers are not available in the country.
In July 2019, a draft law was submitted to allow cannabis for medicinal purposes especially as painkillers for palliative treatments. As of 2021, it looks like it will be converted into law but we cannot say when.
Russia – CBD is Illegal
The only use of cannabis is for industrial purposes provided that the cannabis being used is included in the State Register of Plant Variety and the THC content does not exceed the 0.1% limit.
The Russian law does not mention CBD under any law but the isomer of THC is included under illegal drugs. Therefore, it may be illegal too if interpreted as a THC isomer.
The good news is that under the Law on Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances, Russia introduced a new amendment in 2019, which will hopefully make medical cannabis accessible to patients.
Slovakia – CBD is Legal
In a historic move, Slovakia removed CBD from the list of narcotics substances on May 1, 2021. The move is in compliance with the Kanavape judgement of the European Commission ruling of 2020.
Ukraine – CBD is legal with 0% THC
As of April 2021, CBD isolates and CBD isolate-based products can be used by Ukrainians. This is a positive move because, before this, there were no clear regulations explicitly mentioning the laws related to CBD at all.
Ukraine is constantly trying to adapt cannabis-friendly laws and in 2021 alone, the government has submitted drafts to allow medical usage. This is a big move and we will wait to find out what happens next.
Denmark – CBD is Legal But With Restrictions
Unlike many other European countries, Denmark has CBD laws in place. A pilot program was launched back in 2018, to prescribe a new type of cannabis product which, until now, was not legal in Denmark.
Under this pilot program, the local citizens can register themselves and get a prescription to use CBD-based products. The program has been extended until the end of 2021, giving a green signal to this young industry but the future is still uncertain.
Estonia – No Explicit Laws on CBD
Estonia has a history of drug abuse since its independence and has an image of the drug overdose capital of Europe.
So, for the government, losing the knot on cannabis looks difficult but not bleak. You can get medical cannabis such as Marinol which uses synthetic THC but with a prescription that may involve several government departments.
The process of procuring is so difficult that according to one source only one patient in the country has received approval to use actual medical marijuana until 2018!
Finland – CBD is Legal With Prescription
According to the Finnish Medicine Agency, CBD is treated as a medicine and therefore, you need to have a prescription to possess it.
In April, 2021, YSUB, who is considered a pioneer in CBD products, came up with a campaign called “Not For Sale” to push for crystal clear regulations surrounding CBD in the country.
Finland continues to struggle with CBD laws as of now and we can hope to see a ray of hope soon.
Ireland – CBD with 0% THC is Legal
According to Cannacares, CBD is legal to be purchased with no THC in health food shops and online. It can also be found in certain pharmacies.
The legality of CBD is possible if the product is extracted by the cold pressing method and is completely void of THC. Any trace of THC is considered illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977.
The medical CBD is available in Ireland but on case to case basis and via physician’s prescription only.
Latvia – Legal Grey Area
The Latvian law prohibits cannabis consumption in any form. Due to no explicit laws on CBD, the products are easily available.
The country is enjoying the legal area for now but only sourced from outside the country because the Latvian law does not allow farmers to extract cannabinoids from hemp.
Lithuania – CBD is Illegal
In a landmark decision, the Lithuanian parliament passed a law in 2018 to allow medical prescription of cannabis based treatments.
The law does not allow CBD extracts and finished products to market in Lithuania. The good news is that a new bill is in the early stages to change the existing regime for CBD and cannabis in general.
Norway – CBD is Legal with less than 1% THC for Medical Use
There are no explicit CBD laws in Norway but they do have cannabis laws in place. The country 2017 decriminalized cannabis possession and allowed medical cannabis use since 2016.
To be able to use medical cannabis, approval from the Norwegian Ministry of Health is mandatory.
Sweden – CBD is Legal for Medical Use
In Sweden, any trace of THC in a product is considered a narcotics drug and therefore, prohibited to use.
However, CBD is available for medical use (0% THC) which is covered by the Medicines Act and can be consumed with prescription.
Iceland – CBD is Illegal
Iceland has no specific laws on CBD but cannabis is illegal in Iceland in any form. Federal law puts a hefty amount of fees if caught with cannabis.
Despite having the highest per capita marijuana smokers in the world, Iceland continues to distance itself from cannabis!
Albania – CBD is Illegal
The Albanian government has the strictest rules and regulations surrounding the CBD.
With the National Strategy Against Drugs implementation, it looks like it is highly unlikely that the government is planning to open its arms for CBD or cannabis any time soon.
Nevertheless, with the changing European regulations, we can stay hopeful!
Andorra – CBD is Illegal
Andorra has strict laws surrounding any form of cannabis, regardless of THC level. The government organizes a Cannabis Use Prevention Workshop for students to explain the harmful effects of drug addiction indicating that no shift in perception about CBD is going to change.
For now, the government is not ready to adapt cannabis even for medical purposes, without THC. Let’s be hopeful and maybe in the future, we will see a research project exploring the cannabis industry in Andorra.
Bosnia and Herzegovina – Legal Grey Area
Bosnia and Herzegovina have no specific regulations in place to talk about CBD. As of 2020, all-natural and synthetic cannabinoids are forbidden except cannabidiol under the list of prohibited substances.
On the other hand, according to the Law on Prevention and Suppression of Narcotic Drugs Abuse, industrial hemp production with less than 0.2% THC trace is legal.
Therefore, CBD-based products continue to fall under the grey area and we can hope that it soon falls into the green zone.
Croatia – CBD is Legal
The Croatian government amended the Drugs Abuse Prevention Act and with effect from April, 2019, the companies can grow hemp for medicinal purposes with license but as of now there are no guidelines as to how these licenses will be distributed.
According to the government, hemp is defined as a plant with less than 0.2% THC. CBD-based products are accepted and easily available in the market.
We can say confidently that the Croatian laws on CBD are most relaxed in the European Union.
Greece – CBD with Less than 0.2% THC is Legal
CBD products are legal in Greece if they have less than 0.2% THC content. The country also legalized medical cannabis in 2017 and a more positive move repealed a ban on cultivation/production of cannabis in 2018.
Since the great economic tragedy of 2009, Greece is looking for opportunities to boost its economy. The cannabis industry can be a blessing as the whole world is trying to legalize it in some form or the other.
Greece has the potential to be worth two billion euros industry in only eight years if the country continues its efforts towards legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational purposes.
Italy – CBD is Legal with Less than 0.6% THC
Italy’s medical cannabis is legal but only if the patient has an authorized doctor’s prescription. It can contain CBD.
CBD derived synthetically and from seeds or leaves of a cannabis plant are not prohibited but there is still no clear decree on it yet. We can say that it is hanging in limbo.
Malta – CBD for Medical Use is Legal
CBD can be found for medical use in Malta but only with a prescription. This became possible in 2018 with the Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Research Purposes Act.
The problem according to the local business is that Malta has a medical cannabis industry on paper and it has left CBD completely out of the discussion.
Montenegro – CBD with 0.2% THC level is legal
Montenegronians can grow hemp for industrial and food purposes. The whole process is regulated by the Drug abuse Prevention Plan.
Yes, you can use CBD for medical purposes but only via a licensed body which looks like it does not exist in Montenegro for now.
North Macedonia – CBD for Medical Use is Legal
In 2016, North Macedonia legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana-derived medical products to get an edge in the European CBD market.
However, the law is hazy and the prescription of medical usage is only available for a narrow list of illnesses.
The good news is that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev sees the cannabis market as a source of economic potential.
For now, Macedonia seems to follow NGO Green Alternative’s slogan:
Good people disobey bad laws.
Portugal – CBD is Legal
INFARMED or the National Authority of Medicines and Health Products, I.P. under law 33/2018 grant authorization for CBD-based products.
CBD derived from hemp seeds with a THC concentration of less than 0.2% is allowed. The online market in Portugal has a lot to offer to its consumers.
However, the medical CBD is available only with a prescription which is in line with most of the European country’s laws.
Due to lack of awareness, CBD is regarded as a psychoactive product, making it undesirable for many from a legal perspective.
Even after medical CBD legalization, the country is still in the process of creating a more liberal market.
Slovenia – Medical CBD with Prescription is Legal
Certain cannabinoid drugs such as Sativex and Marinol are available through prescription for serious health conditions.
On the other hand, the Slovanian government classifies cannabinoids as Class II illegal drugs. Therefore, despite the availability, CBD mostly falls under the red zone and continues to find a legal name for itself in Slovenia.
Efforts to legalize cannabis for all uses are supported by many activist groups and the local public but the government says it is obligated under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, making the CBD and cannabis legalization a distant dream for now.
Serbia – Legal Grey Area
Commission for Psychoactive Controlled Substances, Serbian advisory body listed CBD as an addictive substance. Even though it is expected that the government might not go ahead with this change but it goes on to say CBD resistance for now.
Though, it is interesting to note that hemp production with less than 0.3% THC is legal and is regulated under the Act on Psychoactive Controlled Substances. Novosadska konoplja, Fedora 17, Helena, Marina, and Monica are the hemp varieties that Serbian farmers can grow legally.
The hemp regulation and the classification of CBD under addictive drugs are confusing for entrepreneurs. They are demanding clearer laws so that one business can get a clear signal for the production and marketing of CBD products.
Spain – CBD is legal with 0.2% THC
All the regulations surrounding cannabis are done Spanish Agency of Medicines and Medical Devices (AEMPS). Without their permission, any production, research, medical use, etc is considered illegal in Spain.
There is no explicit mention of CBD in any law but medical cannabis is legal for serious conditions such as cancer, sclerosis via prescription.
Hemp cultivation for industrial use is permissible for 25 varieties of hemp. The seeds used should be approved by the European Union.
Hemp-derived CBD is used for cosmetics and topical products only. The derivative should not contain more than 0.2% THC concentration.
Even though cannabis is illegal for most parts, Spain is actively involved in understanding the plant and is spending resources on researching it which shows a positive sign of further change in the country
San Marino – CBD is Legal
The 3rd smallest country of Europe has taken some big steps towards cannabis reforms. In 2016, the local parliament approved cannabis in San Marino for medical purposes.
The country is in full fervur to welcome cannabis recreational use too. They are trying to break the repressive policy surrounding cannabis in the country.
Even though there are no explicit CBD laws but given San Marino’s stance on cannabis in general, it is clear that CBD products are legal.
This tiny European country could become the next cannabis tourism destination.
Vatican City – CBD is Illegal
Vatican City is the smallest country by size and population in the world. It is a theocracy and home to Pope Francis. The country’s stance remains clear- no cannabis or CBD legalization.
The Vatican officials feel more study needs to be conducted to understand the impact of legalized cannabis.
Future of the Booming European Market
The European CBD market is expected to accelerate at an unprecedented speed. The game-changing events are already happening in Europe with the changing laws and regulations.
The European startups are seeing a record level of investment. Alphagreen, a UK-based company, raised 1.2 million euros to launch new CBD services. Cannaable, a German startup recently secured six figures investment to support European expansion.
It seems, Europe will take over the entire CBD world market by the end of this decade and we are excited about this phenomenal development.
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