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Guide to Buying CBD in Europe — Updated For 2022

Europe has the world’s second-largest CBD market. CBD is legal, but laws are becoming restrictive. Read on to learn about local laws and buying CBD.

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CBD is legal in almost every European country — but there are some exceptions.

The European Union considers CBD a novel food and aims to limit access to CBD products. Although regulations are changing, the European CBD market continues to expand as dozens of new CBD brands enter the market every month.

If you’re not sure where to purchase CBD, and what defines the product as legal and of good quality, read our guide about local laws and brands operating throughout Europe.

Use the map below to select your specific country for more information on finding CBD nearby.

Table of Contents

Summary: Buying CBD in Europe

  1. Hemp with 0.2% THC or less is completely legal in most of Europe
  2. CBD in Europe is permitted, but laws are becoming more restrictive
  3. EU‘s Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 classifies CBD as a novel food (foods not used in the Union before May 15th, 1997)
  4. Most EU countries have a THC limit in CBD products equal to 0.2% or less
  5. Austria and Luxembourg allow CBD products with a THC content of up to 0.3%
  6. France allows only CBD isolate products (0% THC )
  7. In Switzerland, CBD is legal with a THC content of less than 1%
  8. CBD is illegal in Slovakia and Lithuania
CBD Laws & Buyer’s Guides | Select Your Country

3. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

1. All Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

1. All Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

6. All Cannabis Products Legal

1. All Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

1. All Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

4. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Illegal

Medical Use Only

3. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

The United Kingdom

3. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

6. All Cannabis Products Legal

1. All Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

3. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

Medical Use Only

Medical Use Only

3. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

Bosnia and Herzegovina

4. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Illegal

3. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Medical Use Only

Grey-Area – Legal Lean

4. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Illegal

4. Most Hemp-Derived Cannabinoids Legal | Δ8, Δ9, and Δ10 Illegal | Marijuana Illegal

Grey-Area – Legal Lean

Medical Use Only

Medical Use Only

Medical Use Only

Medical Use Only

Grey-Area – Legal Lean

Best CBD Oils to Buy in Europe

Nordic Oil Full-Spectrum CBD Oil With Curcumin & Piperine

€0.10

Endoca CBD Oils

€0.08 – €0.09

Kiara Naturals Pain Relief Tincture

$0.13 (€ 0.11)

Just CBD Oil Tinctures

$0.07 – $0.30

CBD Life UK Hemp Oil Drops

£0.04 – £0.06

How to Buy CBD Products in Europe

Buying CBD products in Europe is simple — for most countries, that is.

Most of Europe allows either THC-free, or low THC (less than 0.2%) products without a prescription to adults. This means you can buy CBD products from local shops, or order them online.

The best place to get CBD in Europe is online. You can order products from the manufacturer directly and have it shipped to your door. It’s cheaper, easier, and offers the greatest selection of products.

if you live in a country where CBD is legal, but CBD brands won’t ship directly, you should use a mail forwarding service to get your products delivered.

European residents can order from international CBD brands like Hemp Bombs or Nature’s Script, or choose local European companies like Endoca, Nordic Oil, or Reakiro for faster delivery.

Pro Tips: Buying High-Quality CBD in Europe

The European CBD market is still chaotic, and you can bump into plenty of CBD products of questionable quality. To avoid spending your money on low-quality products, make sure you:

  1. Research the company you want to buy from before you purchase your CBD — read reviews and scour online forums.
  2. Ask your seller to provide you with a Certificate of Analysis to guarantees the product’s quality.
  3. Ask about the conditions in which hemp is grown — a safe growing environment enables toxin-free CBD products.

Is CBD Legal in Europe?

Until recently, CBD in Europe was unrestricted.

Although industrial hemp is completely legal, as long as its THC content doesn’t exceed 0.2%, the laws around CBD have tightened.

In January 2019, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released guidance on cannabinoid-infused food products, saying that products containing CBD must be approved as a novel food by a national food authority.

According to the European Commission (EC), extracts of Cannabis sativa L. and products containing cannabinoids are considered novel foods (history of consumption has not been demonstrated).

The guidance is not obligatory, but several member states amended their CBD laws in accordance with this new classification.

Hemp & Marijuana: What’s the Difference?

Europe has set clear distinctions between hemp and marijuana. While both plants belong to the Cannabis sativa species, hemp and marijuana are categorized by their THC content — the primary psychoactive cannabinoid.

Marijuana

In Europe, marijuana is considered any cannabis plant with a THC content higher than 0.2%. Marijuana crops can still have high concentrations of CBD, along with other therapeutic cannabinoids, but its restriction is largely due to the psychoactive effects of THC.

According to EU law, industrial hemp is considered any plant with a THC content of 0.2% or less. Industrial hemp is legal throughout Europe, and is mostly used for its fiber, and seeds for food, and CBD extracts.

CBD Laws By Country

1. Albania

Verdict: Banned

Albania prohibits any use of cannabis due to the widely spread illegal cultivation and drug trafficking.

2. Andorra

Verdict: Banned

Andorra is not an EU member state and doesn’t have specific CBD regulation. Cannabis is prohibited in Andorra. Possession can result in a €1200 – €1800 fine or imprisonment of up to 2 years.

3. Armenia

Verdict: Banned

Cannabis is illegal in Armenia. Individuals caught with cannabis possession can receive a heavy fine or up to 2 months of jail time.

4. Austria

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Legal Lean

Changes to how CBD is marketed came into effect at the end of 2018 due to uncontrolled sales and lack of quality regulation — CBD products are no longer sold as food supplements or medication, with the exception for some patients who can benefit from medicinal CBD.

You can still legally purchase cannabis flowers, extracts, and hashish with less than 0.3% THC online and in-stores as long as they’re labeled as aroma products because this ban doesn’t include essential oils or raw plant extracts.

5. Belarus

Verdict: Banned

Cannabis in Belarus is prohibited. Discussions on the legalization of hemp and CBD are ongoing and intensified after neighboring country, Poland legalized medical cannabis, but there are still no changes in the law.

6. Belgium

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Restricted Lean

Until recently, Belgium had relaxed laws on CBD. You could purchase CBD in hundreds of stores and online.

Shortly after the new guidance on novel foods was released, Belgium amended its laws and banned CBD edibles (including CBD oil).

On April 11th, 2019, the Federal Public Service Finance (FPS Finance) announced that CBD flowers with a THC content lower than 0.2% are now considered tobacco products. Under the new regulation, hemp flowers are taxed like tobacco.

As of August 2019, CBD (ointment, pills, and oil) is available in pharmacies via a doctor’s prescription.

Despite the ban, online CBD purchase is still prevalent in Belgium. If you order CBD online, you’re doing so at your own risk, as your product could be seized at customs.

7. Bulgaria

Verdict: Unrestricted

In Bulgaria, hemp cultivation is legal under government-issued licenses. Despite being an EU member state, Bulgaria decided to bypass the novel food classification of CBD, allowing its import and legal sale in June 2019. Processing hemp for CBD is still illegal.

While the legal limit for THC in hemp plants is less than 0.2%, there is no specific threshold for THC in hemp-derived CBD.

8. The Czech Republic

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Legal Lean

The Czech law defines hemp as a cannabis plant with a THC content that doesn’t exceed 0.3% in dry weight. An individual can grow hemp on an area of 100 m 2 without government authorization.

Hemp extracts and tinctures fall under Annex 1 of Government Order No. 463/2013 Coll. on the list of addictive substances.

However, there is a loophole in the Czech law that many CBD companies take advantage of — pure CBD is not a scheduled substance; therefore, it’s not completely illegal.

Pure CBD (THC-free) is tolerated in Czech and is widely available on the market.

See also  CBD Rich Hemp Oil

In October 2015, the Ministry of Health introduced a new regulation to expand the existing medical cannabis program. This plan involves removing the restrictions on THC and CBD in cannabis varieties, so the cannabinoid content can vary from 0.3% to 21% THC, and from 0.3% to 19% of CBD.

You can buy medical CBD on prescriptions from licensed pharmacies.

9. Denmark

Verdict: Unrestricted

In July 2018, the Danish Health Ministry amended the Executive Order on Euphoriant Substances, legalizing cannabis products with up to 0.2% THC.

This makes hemp-derived CBD legal for over-the-counter purchases.

Despite the unrestricted status of CBD, Danish law is not as simple as it sounds. On the contrary, the regulation on CBD is complex and includes several authority bodies. However, the restrictions fall on companies and CBD producers, and not on the buyers — you can legally buy CBD online in Denmark.

The best brands to check out in Denmark are Nordic Oil and Endoca.

10. Estonia

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Legal Lean

Under the Act on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Precursors Thereof, CBD in Estonia is not considered a psychotropic substance, and therefore, it is legal.

Following the EU regulation on novel foods, the Estonian Veterinary and Food Board (VFB) announced that as of June 1st, 2019, CBD products cannot be marketed as food (including dietary supplements).

The Estonian Agency of Medicines confirms on their website that CBD has no psychotropic effects and is not on the list of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

Estonia has allowed medical use of hemp and its processing products such as resin, extracts, and tinctures since 2005. Medical CBD can be obtained with a doctor’s prescription.

The loopholes in the Estonian law place CBD in the legal grey area.

11. Finland

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Restricted Lean

CBD in Finland falls under several national and EU regulations. Each authority body regulates CBD placement on the market, depending on the claims and the purpose of the CBD product.

  1. The Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea) considers CBD a prescription medicine.
  2. Finnish Customs (Tulli) cooperate with Fimea and can seize CBD products if they consider it a medicine. Importing medical CBD without prescription is prohibited.
  3. The Finish Food Safety Authority (Evira) abides by the EU’s regulation on novel foods.

There are several loopholes in the Finnish law, and many CBD stores use these to sell CBD “legally.” However, importing CBD could be illegal, and your product could be seized. It all depends on how the customs will treat your product and how the brand markets its products.

Currently, CBD in Finland is stuck in the legal grey area under a set of governmental restrictions.

12. France

Verdict: Unrestricted

In France, hemp with 0.2% THC is legal for cultivation. Until recently, France allowed the sale of CBD products with 0.2% over the counter.

However, the French authorities decided to change the laws regulating the cannabinoid, banning THC presence in any final CBD product.

Currently, CBD is legal only if you’re buying CBD isolate products. The laws are subjected to constant changes, putting CBD in an unstable position.

13. Republic of Georgia

Verdict: Banned

This small country in the Caucasus region surprised many of its neighbors and other Ex-Soviet Union countries when it decriminalized the use of cannabis in 2018.

After years of lobbying and pressure from various organizations and libertarian politicians, the Constitutional Court of Georgia decriminalized the personal use of cannabis.

However, cannabis cultivation and sale remain illegal. This makes CBD oil and CBD products illegal.

14. Germany

Verdict: Unrestricted

You can buy CBD products with a THC content lower than 0.2% THC over the counter. German law does not permit the marketing of CBD products that contain health claims.

If you need medical CBD, you can obtain a doctor’s prescription and purchase CBD from a licensed pharmacy.

You can also buy CBD products from local brands like Nordic Oil, Endoca, or international brands like Hemp Bombs.

15. Greece

Verdict: Unrestricted

CBD oil and CBD products in Greece are legal if their content complies with the EU rule of < 0.2% THC. The cultivation of industrial hemp in Greece is completely legal.

16. Hungary

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Legal Lean

Hemp with a THC content that doesn’t exceed 0.2% is legal in Hungary.

Until recently, CBD sales were neither defined nor mentioned in Hungarian law. Companies used this loophole to market and sell various CBD goods. In the last few years, the Hungarian CBD market boomed, attracting the attention of national authorities.

Currently, the National Institute for Pharmacy and Nutrition (OÉGYI), includes several CBD foods in its list of dietary supplements, all of which contain non-recommended or prohibited claims. Currently, there is no CBD-based approved medicine in Hungary, and CBD products cannot be labeled with health claims. Furthermore, active ingredients in CBD products must be indicated on the packaging, and its content may not differ by more than +/- 10% from the declared content.

CBD manufacturers must report their products to OÉGYI. If the authority considers the product “unpredictable,” it’ll place it under a non-recommended status until the test is completed and then ban or allow it, depending on the test results.

Many local stores continue to sell CBD products, even if they’re waiting for approval from the authority. CBD products are widely available online.

NOTE: Consult with a lawyer on the local laws, or do thorough research before you purchase CBD online in Hungary.

17. Iceland

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Restricted Lean

CBD in Iceland is not entirely prohibited, but it’s highly restricted.

The main issue about CBD in Iceland is that there is no specific law that defines its legal status.

Hemp cultivation is permitted as long as the THC content of the plant doesn’t exceed 0.2%.

THC is illegal, making all cannabis-based products prohibited in Iceland. However, CBD isolates (99% CBD) are free from THC, and therefore, legal.

The Icelandic Medicines Agency considers CBD illegal (except when used as a prescribed medicine). According to the authority, the Narcotics Act no. 65/1974 doesn’t include THC limits in cannabis products, which makes the possession and use of cannabis substances (including THC) prohibited in Iceland.

Importing CBD in Iceland may be illegal, especially if the product contains health claims.

Importation of CBD foods is prohibited.

18. Ireland

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Restricted Lean

Ireland has CBD in a legal grey area.

Industrial hemp with 0.2% THC or less is permitted. However, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 states that all cannabis derivatives – including hemp – containing any trace of THC are illegal.

CBD isolates should be legal as they are THC-free. But, Ireland’s government is sticking to the European Commission’s new rule on novel foods, so CBD products cannot be sold as food or supplements.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) says that CBD isolates extracted with solvents or CO2 cannot be sold in the EU without authorization as a novel food from the European Commission. The approval would serve as proof that the CBD isolate product is free of harmful substances.

The Irish police have raided many stores, often confiscating the CBD products. However, brick and mortar stores in Ireland continue to sell CBD isolate products. Online stores offer both CBD isolates and full-spectrum CBD.

Avoid purchasing products that are not CBD isolates. If you get caught with any product that contains THC, you could be charged and receive penalties both under the legislation of the Customs Acts and the Misuse of Drugs Act.

19. Italy

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Restricted Lean/Legal for Medical Use

In Italy, hemp with 0.2% THC is completely legal. (the law tolerates variations of THC level up to 0.6%). Until recently, CBD oils with less than 0.6% THC and no limit on CBD were sold on every corner.

At the end of May 2019, Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation amended the law, excluding hemp leaves, flowers, resin, and oil from the legal frame. The amended law banned the sale of many widely sold cannabis derivatives in Italy, including CBD oil.

However, the law is not clearly defined, as it says that the sale and marketing of products derived from Cannabis sativa L. is an offense under the Italian drug control law unless the products are free of narcotic effects. The meaning of this exclusion hasn’t been defined yet, leaving CBD in the grey area.

Medical CBD — available only in the form of rolls and edibles — is available with a doctor’s prescription and can be bought in licensed pharmacies.

20. Latvia

Verdict: Legal Grey Area

CBD in Latvia lives in the legal grey area. The Food and Veterinary Service (FVS) prohibits the sale and marketing of CBD as food and nutritional supplement, but officials say that if it’s sold as a souvenir, there is no law violation.

Officials also state that CBD is a subject of several laws, including the Law on drugs and psychotropic substances.

However, CBD is not explicitly prohibited, and hemp cultivation is legal in Latvia, which leaves an option for CBD retailers to sell the product legally to some extent.

Some local vape stores in Riga sell imported CBD oil and hemp flowers, labeling the products as “souvenirs.” Owners of the shops cannot technically prove that the products are souvenirs. On the other hand, some retailers say that it’s not up to them how buyers will use the product.

21. Liechtenstein

Verdict: Legal Grey Area

Liechtenstein considers any cannabis product a prohibited drug if its average THC level is at least 1%.

Cultivation of hemp with less than 1% is legal in Liechtenstein.

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There is no specific prohibiting law on CBD in Liechtenstein, meaning CBD with less than 1% THC could be considered legal.

However, avoid importing CBD until you’ve checked with your local authorities.

22. Lithuania

Verdict: Banned

Lithuania allows the cultivation of hemp with a THC content of less than 0.2%, but only for seeds (food) and fiber.

In January 2019, government officials proposed a new bill that would permit the sale and use of cannabis edibles with less than 0.2% THC. Until now, nothing has changed and, CBD remains prohibited.

The Lithuanian law abides by the Europan Commission’s regulation on novel foods, meaning that it doesn’t allow the marketing of CBD foods.

For now, the only legal hemp products are hemp seed oil, flour, and hemp protein.

23. Luxembourg

Verdict: Unrestricted

In August 2019, Luxembourg became the first European country to legalize possession and use of recreational cannabis.

Adults over the age of 18 will be able to buy marijuana legally within two years.

CBD products are completely legal and available over the counter as long as the THC content does not exceed 0.3%.

24. Malta

Verdict: Legal for Medical Use/Legal Grey Area

Although CBD in Malta is legal only with a doctor’s prescription, many stores have been selling the CBD products over the counter.

What’s interesting about this is that the police have been overlooking these actions, leaving CBD in the grey area.

CBD in Malta can be bought without prescription in health stores — this is technically illegal, but no prosecutions have been done.

25. Moldova

Verdict: Banned

In Moldova, the law considers any cannabis variety and its by-products psychotropic substances without medical value.

Hemp cultivation is permitted under a government-issued license, but obtaining the permit is difficult.

There have been suggestions for regulation and legalization of CBD, but no further changes have been made and CBD remains illegal.

26. Monaco

Verdict: Banned

Cannabis in Monaco is illegal, and both recreational and medical use of cannabis-based products is prohibited.

27. Montenegro

Verdict: Banned

Hemp cultivation in Montenegro is allowed only for fiber and seeds (food). The sale and use of other cannabis products is prohibited.

28. Netherlands

Verdict: Unrestricted

Although recreational use of cannabis is decriminalized in the Netherlands, and both hemp and marijuana are legal, CBD is regulated under strict rules.

Hemp-derived CBD is legal, but the THC content cannot exceed 0.05%. As of July 2019, CBD vape oil is banned.

29. North Macedonia

Verdict: Legal for Medical Use

With the amendments of the law on the Control of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances in 2016, North Macedonia authorized cannabis cultivation and procession.

CBD oil with less than 0.2% is already available in Macedonian pharmacies without a prescription.

Cannabis oil, with a THC content of more than 0.2%, is only available with a prescription.

30. Norway

Verdict: Legal for Medical Use

In Norway, CBD is legal only as medicine, which patients can buy with a doctor’s prescription. The THC content is limited to 1% or less.

Any other use and private import of CBD oil are illegal and strictly forbidden.

31. Poland

Verdict: Unrestricted

CBD oil in Poland is legal as long as its extracted from industrial hemp (THC concentration < 0.2%), and the product has been present on the Polish market for several years.

From 2017, the Polish authorities legalized medicinal cannabis too. Poland is also known as one of the most prosperous countries in hemp cultivation and CBD product exports.

You can buy CBD in various health food and alternative medicine stores.

32. Portugal

Verdict: Legal for Medical Use

Until mid-2018, CBD oil in Portugal could be purchased as a food supplement.

After the regulation of Law 33/2018, approved in June 2018, CBD’s classification has changed. According to the new law, CBD oil now is a medicine — only available for purchase at pharmacies.

Patients won’t need medical licenses but are required to have a non-refillable doctor’s prescription.

33. Romania

Verdict: Unrestricted

The cannabis plant is regulated under two Romanian laws; one is Law no. 339/2005. This law enables the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MADR) to authorize the cultivation of industrial hemp if the process is in accordance with the EU regulations.

As a hemp-derivative, CBD with a THC concentration of < 0.2% is completely legal in this member state.

34. Serbia

Verdict: Legal Grey Area – Restricted Lean

Serbia produces hemp with a THC concentration of 0.2%. CBD is sold and widely used, and its demand rises.

However, the country doesn’t have regulative frameworks for the cannabinoid, which affects the development and safety of products on the CBD market.

In July 2019, the government’s Commission for psychoactive controlled substances proposed a ban on the cultivation, import, and export of hemp used for CBD production — hemp would be allowed for scientific research and contract manufacturing for authorized pharmaceutical companies that produce Epidiolex (CBD-based prescription medicine used to treat epileptic seizures).

The legislative proposal is still not enacted, and CBD in Serbia remains in the legal grey area.

35. Slovakia

Verdict: Banned

More than a decade and a half ago, Slovakia classified CBD as a drug from Group 2 of the Psychotropic Substances Act.

There has been no change in the rule despite the attempts of some politicians to decriminalize cannabis.

36. Slovenia

Verdict: Unrestricted

According to Slovenian law, both the cultivation of industrial hemp and the extraction of derivatives like CBD oil are legal.

The THC limit in the dry plant is 0.3% and the limit for the THC content in CBD oil is < than 0.2%.

37. Spain

Verdict: Unrestricted

CBD derived from industrial hemp and in compliance with the EU limit of 0.2% THC content is legal for purchase and use.

If CBD is manufactured in Spain, it can be marketed only as a “technical product” or “product for external use.”

The only CBD products that you can legally buy in Spain are products for skincare or for the treatment of different types of skin conditions (cosmetics and topicals).

After the European Commission created the new legislation on novel foods, AECOSAN (The Spanish Agency for Food Security and Nutrition), together with the Ministry of Health, announced that all companies producing and distributing CBD for human consumption must stop the marketing and sale of the product until the EU regulates it.

CBD is not on the list of authorized food supplements of the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products.

Many CBD shop owners continue to sell CBD-infused food products, but this is illegal. Currently, CBD

AECOSAN prohibits the online purchase of CBD products sold as a health food.

38. Sweden

Verdict: Unrestricted

In 2018, the Swedish Medical Agency said that CBD is an illegal compound, meaning it’s drug classified.

On June 18, 2019, the Supreme Court of Sweden ruled that CBD products must not contain THC.

Sweden doesn’t follow the EU limit of 0.2% or less THC. So, if you’re buying a CBD product in Sweden, make sure it has 0 % THC. Otherwise, you could face a criminal charge.

39. Switzerland

Verdict: Unrestricted

Switzerland is often called “the CBD hub of Europe”, which says a lot about this country. The regulation and the laws on growing cannabis and manufacturing diverse CBD products are organized with Swiss precision.

The cultivation of cannabis is legal, but the THC levels can’t surpass 1%. There is no limit on CBD and other compounds.

There are also no limitations on the varieties and growing and developing different species is what boosts the Swiss CBD business. Cannabis products and CBD oil are available in stores and online.

40. Ukraine

Verdict: Unrestricted

Ukraine permits the use, sale, and marketing of CBD products with minimal THC levels. Ukraine is not a member-state of the EU, but has signed an association agreement with the Union, which simplifies the trade relations between the two sides.

There is no specific THC limit mentioned, but it probably won’t exceed 0.2% as Ukraine is cooperating with and looking forward to entering the EU.

41. The United Kingdom

Verdict: Unrestricted

Pure CBD in the UK is not a controlled substance. In other words, only CBD isolate products are completely legal.

The UK allows the cultivation of hemp with 0.2% THC or less, but the final products for personal use must contain less than 1 mg of THC total per bottle.

On the other hand, medical CBD can contain THC but can be obtained only with a doctor’s prescription.

Hemp and CBD are subjected to several regulations, and laws around CBD products can vary.

Make sure you follow the local laws regularly to avoid any legal issues when purchasing CBD.

There are a variety of UK-based CBD companies in the space:

A Brief History of Cannabis in Europe

Yamnaya people — a nomad tribe living north of the Black Sea — are considered the earliest hemp cultivators in Europe (c.3300–2600 BC).

Archeological findings suggest the Yamnaya people have used hemp for tools, textiles, and ropes. They’ve also selectively cultivated cannabis, to increase its medicinal properties.

The Yamnaya tribes are considered the possible initiators of cannabis routes between Europe and Central Asia.

Cannabis spread rapidly throughout Europe — both towards Scandinavia and Westwards.

Vikings, and later colonizers used hemp as a shipbuilding material. British, Spanish, and Portuguese settlers brought hemp crops to the Americas to cultivate it for the needs of their naval units. Most of the processed hemp in the Americas was sent back to the European countries for food, clothes, rope, biofuel, building material, and animal feed.

During the medieval period, hemp became one of the most important crops for Europeans.

The recreational use of cannabis was also present on the continent, especially among writers, artists, and philosophers.

The medical use of cannabis was introduced in the early and mid 19th century. Cannabis seeds were used for homeopathic medicines.

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In 1839, the Irish physician William O’Shaughnessy published “On the Preparations of the Indian Hemp” and wrote about hemp’s medicinal use.

By 1930, cheaper materials such as cotton and synthetic fiber replaced hemp’s fiber. In the 20th century, many European countries banned hemp due to its association with marijuana use.

Hemp’s reintroduction to Europe began in 1990 in the UK and spread to the Netherlands and Germany, and then the rest of the continent. Hemp cultivation was primarily re-established due to hemp’s ability to provide for the biofuel, food, and fiber industry.

A Note on Mail Forwarding

Mail forwarding is an excellent delivery option to use when shopping with brands that won’t deliver to your country.

A mail forwarding company will provide you with an address in another country (like USA or the UK) that you can use to place online orders. The product gets delivered to the given address, and it will be rerouted to your address.

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Is CBD legal in EU?

Services and products that we buy and use nowadays are, or at least should be, well regulated. This includes everything from booking a hotel for your vacation or business trip to buying foodstuffs like milk, personal care products and cosmetics at your local store or online.
The legal status of the items that we buy, use and/or consume depends on several factors, such as:

  1. the classification of the product,
  2. the type and legal status of the ingredients,
  3. the country where the product is sold.

Sounds confusing? We will explain these factors below using concrete examples for CBD and other consumer products.

So, what is the legal status of popular CBD products?

The question of the legal status of CBD products is, besides questions about quality, certainly one of the most important and common from CBD users.

Unfortunately, the answer is not simple or straightforward. The reason for the complexity is that all three of the above-mentioned factors must be considered when we want to define the legality of a certain CBD product, as you will see in the continuation.

1. The classification of CBD products

Did you know that CBD products fall into many different categories of final products? Currently, the most popular and known are:

  • Food supplements, where CBD oil is the most common
  • Foodstuffs like drinks infused with CBD and other active ingredients
  • Cosmetic products containing CBD, such as anti-aging topical creams and serums
  • Personal care products that contain CBD are scarce, but oral hygiene products, for example, are gaining in popularity
  • Medicines with an active pharmaceutical ingredient (CBD in an isolated form or as cannabis extracts)
  • E-liquids with CBD for vaping
  • Smoking a type of cannabis flowers with CBD (so called “tobacco” substitutes)

The legislation and legal status of these diverse forms of CBD products differ, regardless of the fact that they all contain CBD. This is quite reasonable if we consider that some are used on the skin, while others are ingested or even inhaled. Not to mention the purpose – medicines are used to cure and treat diseases, which is not the case for cosmetics and food supplements.

Below is a simple legal classification of the various CBD-related products and the applicable general EU legislation. It is important to note that besides the general legislation, additional EU and national regulations apply as well. Currently, the most “popular” and specific to the world of CBD is EU Regulation 2015/2283 on novel foods. This regulation was discussed in one of our previous blogs.

*certain forms of cannabis are used for vaporizing (flowering parts) and are classified as a medicinal product.

Are you questioning whether all these CBD products are legal? Well, this depends on other factors, i.e., the type of CBD used as an ingredient in such final products and, interestingly, where the product is sold, as you will see in continuation.

If a producer or seller of a particular product complies with the applicable EU and national legislation, then the answer is “yes” in all cases. Hence, CBD products are legal as long as they are registered and compliant with the legislation that needs to be followed.

2. The type of CBD as an ingredient

While some ingredients like caffeine can be incorporated into cosmetics, food supplements and foodstuffs as well as pharmaceuticals, there are some ingredients that are regulated and can only be used in certain types of products.
One such ingredient is vitamin D, which is a very popular ingredient in food supplements, especially these days, as it boosts the immune system and keeps viral infections away. Some studies also relate vitamin-D intake with potent antiviral properties in the case of Covid-19.

Vitamin D is also an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in medicinal products, where daily doses are typically higher than food supplements with vitamin D.

In stark contrast, vitamin D is on the list of prohibited substances in cosmetic products in the European Union. Both forms of vitamin D (ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol) are listed in Annex 2 of EU 1223/2009 – the list of substances prohibited in cosmetic products.

CBD as an ingredient in cosmetic products can occur as an isolated CBD or as hemp/cannabis extract, which typically also contains other phytocannabinoids that can be found in hemp.

Cosing, a comprehensive EU database on cosmetic ingredients, provides the following information for the keyword “cannabidiol”:

As you can see, there are no restrictions on CBD, regardless of its origin – whether it is naturally derived from hemp/cannabis or synthetically produced. The restrictions in the last column refer to the above-mentioned list of prohibited substances given in EU 1223/2009.

We see something similar if we type in Cosing the following keywords “cannabis sativa leaf extract”:

The source of the extract in the case of hemp/cannabis matters in terms of the legality of cosmetic products. For example, only extracts of certain parts, such as stems, seeds and leaves, are allowed. This relates to a rather obsolete, yet still applicable, classification of drugs from the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, signed in New York on 30 March 1961.

On the other hand, medical preparations from cannabis can be produced from any part of the plant and can contain either CBD on its own or a combination with other phytocannabinoids, including the psychoactive tetrahdydrocannabinol or THC. THC is classified as a drug according to the UN Convention from 1961, but can be legally used as a medicine under certain circumstances.

3. The legal status of CBD by countries

The legal status of CBD in Europe is defined by EU and national regulations. The legislation and people’s opinions are changing fast and continuously, so the “rules” that apply today might not be effective tomorrow.

For example, last year the European Commission’s preliminary opinion on CBD being a narcotic was withdrawn after a few months. The Commission changed their minds in November 2020, when the European Court of Justice published a judgement stating that CBD that is extracted from cannabis should not be considered as a drug under the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

A similar case at the national level happened last October in Italy, which suspended a decree, only a few days old, where CBD preparations were added to “Section B” of the Italian narcotics law’s table of medicines. Just for clarification: medicines in “Section B” require a special prescription that cannot be used multiple times in Italy.

It is clear from the above, that whether a certain CBD product can be legally sold in a certain country depends on its classification.

For example, in all the EU Member States and the UK, cosmetic products with CBD are legal if they comply with the applicable cosmetic regulations.

On the other hand, food supplements with CBD are a little more complex. In the EU, such products need to be approved by the European Commission prior to being sold legally on the market. This is not the case in the UK now, where the authorities decided that CBD products that are currently on the UK market can be sold freely if the producers/sellers have authorization for the approval of such Novel foods in process. For more details on this topic, check our previous blogs on Novel Foods in the EU and in UK.

So, you can see that the legal status of CBD products depends on many factors, such as the form of the final product, the source of the CBD and last, but not least, on country-specific regulations.

The latter are changing fast. Therefore, our advice to you is to constantly follow the news as it relates to the CBD market. At Pharmahemp, we are closely monitoring the situation in the EU and the UK and any major changes and updates to the legislation will be shared with you instantly.

For any further advice and guidance on specific legislation you can also contact us at [email protected]

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