Where is CBD legal?
The legality of Cannabis, Marijuana and/or their derivatives CBD and THC varies from country to country. Cannabis laws around the world vary in the areas of possession, distribution, cultivation, how it can be consumed, and what medical conditions it can be used to treat.
But there is more to know. While cannabis might be illegal in some parts of the world, its derivative CBD – the focus of this article – is often legal for use for health and wellness purposes.
Because hemp is sometimes confused with marijuana, there is still some stigma towards hemp-derived CBD. However, from a legal perspective, hemp-derived CBD is legal and possession should pose no legal issues in most of the United States and many countries, but it is important to understand how the law around CBD use and possession works in whatever country you find yourself.
Hemp-derived CBD is the only type of CBD that is legal in most countries. CBD is also found in the marijuana plant. Marijuana-derived CBD is not legal in most countries because the growth and cultivation of marijuana are not legal.
In this article, we will be looking at the legality of hemp derived CBD in selected countries across the world.
It is worthy to note that while medical cannabis and its derivative CBD is legal in all 50 states that make up the Union, the substance remains a class A drug federally and possession of the substance is in clear violation of federal laws. A bit tricky you might say, but that’s the reality of most cannabis control regulations in the United States.
CBD Laws in the United States
The US is unique because all 50 states have different laws for CBD products. There are some CBD products that are explicitly illegal federally like CBD gummies, and any product where CBD is added to food or drink. However, just a small handful of states do have laws that seemingly permit CBD that is added to food and beverages. Labeling requirements for CBD products also vary by state and not all products can be legally retailed in all 50 states.
Any product with more than 0.3% delta-9-THC is federally illegal in the US, but each state has different requirements for what they consider to be the amount of THC in a product. Some states require less than 0.3% delta-9-THC while others require THC to be more accurately reported as delta-9-THC + THCA, multiplied by the amount of THCA that can be activated and converted to delta-9-THC when heated. This more accurate THC calculation is not always the calculation used on labeling.
When it comes to CBD in the US, it is very important to actually read the state laws and understand that a product that is not produced in your state might not be legal to buy, sell, use, or possess. A good example of this are Louisiana, Indiana, North Carolina, and Kentucky which prohibit any smokable CBD or hemp product including flower, concentrates, and vapes! There are also states like Idaho where hemp and CBD are both illegal and heavily penalized.
Learn more about each state below:
CBD Laws in Europe
In Europe, marijuana and cannabis laws differ from country to country. While the general EU law permits the consumption of CBD products containing no more than 0.2% THC, there are a few exceptions such as Croatia, and Slovenia, etc; that applies an outright ban to all cannabis and cannabis derived substances including CBD.
CBD and medical cannabis are legal substances in Germany and have been so for over 2 years now. Patients requiring CBD are expected to get a marijuana card and doctors prescription for their medications.
While recreational cannabis remains illegal, Germany holds a liberal stance on the private and public consumption of the substance.
Italy legalized cannabis for medical use in 2007, with many caveats. In the 1940s, Italy was said to be the world’s second-biggest producer of industrial hemp, but after World War II, the country adopted a different approach to the cultivation of hemp, banning the business completely. In 2017 , a government directive shifted the perspective by no longer requiring authorization for cultivating hemp with a maximum THC content of 0.2% with a tolerance level up to 0.6%. CBD Oil was Legal in Italy as long as the product had less than 0.6% THC. High CBD cannabis strains were also available in Italy in smokeable form, commonly called Cannabis Light.However, in June 2019, the Supreme Court outlawed so called 'Cannabis Light' as the Interior Minister put the pressure on to shut down CBD shops. The verdict means that the sale of cannabis light is prosecutable but no formal change of legislation has happened yet, so we should not expect all stores to shut immediately; that will depend on local enforcement.
Bulgaria made history by becoming the first EU country to allow free sale of hemp-derived cannabidiol. Tis makes CBD products legal and easy to purchase in Bulgaria, as long as they contain less than 0.2% of THC.
Cyprus follows the EU regulations and allows cultivation of hemp. Any products manufactured from this plans must not exceed 0.2% of THC, making regular CBD products legal to purchase.
Hemp derived CBD is legal to purchase as long as it has less than .3% THC (higher than EU limit of .2%THC).
In Austria the legal situation regarding CBD is a bit more complicated than in Germany, cannabis flowers and extracts containing CBD can be legally sold, but not as a food supplement or medication and the maximal content of THC allowed is 0.3%.
France is the largest producer of hemp in Europe, mostly used for hemp paper. It is unclear whether CBD oil is legal in France. France follows the general EU law for industrial hemp and allows legal purchase of CBD products with content of 0.2% THC or less. However, in 2018, french health authorities shut down 'CBD cafes' and sent out a directive clarifying regulation surrounding CBD products: 'Products, and especially CBD-based e-liquids are prohibited if they contain THC regardless of the rate and if they are not obtained from varieties and part of authorized plants.' France stated that 'the .2% THC limit principle exists in order to allow the use of hemp for industrial and commercial purposes'.This directive would seem to indicate that only CBD products with 0% THC are legal for sale/consumption, inconsistent with EU standards.
According to Greek law, hemp-derived products are not considered as drugs, as they do not contain high amounts of THC. Therefore, CBD products can be legally purchased in Greece as long as they contain .2% or less of THC.
Pharmacies and stores in Dublin have started selling CBD products which contain less than 0.2% of THC. This is because of the recent amendments to Irish law, which have recognized CBD (hemp-derived CBD) as a non-cannabis product, making it legal. These oils and products must be developed according to HPRA and EU standards to be accepted in the market.
While CBD products in Finland are legal, they are regarded as medicine, therefore require prescription. Importing CBD products form abroad is also not easy and heavily regulated.
While cannabis derived CBD is legal, there are controlled measures with prescriptions. Marijuana remains an illegal substance in Denmark and when reprimanded would cost you a small fine or on a heavier note, a prison sentence of up to 2 years depending on the quantity in your possession at the point of arrest.
Danish laws unequivocally prohibit the cultivation, processing, sale and or distribution of marijuana. However, only recently (January 2018) whole plant for medical and wellness purposes was made legal for a 4 years pilot.
To become eligible to purchase and use a control quantity of the substance in Denmark, you would require a written prescription from your licensed health care provider.
Sweden has some of Europe’s most restrictive drug laws. There are currently no specific laws about CBD in Sweden yet, so CBD is in a gray zone here. CBD is not classified as a medicine, but the medical agency is currently working on classifying it as medicine. Classifying CBD as a medicine needs to be tried in court first and the process will take a long time. According to EU laws, CBD products cannot contain more than 0,2% THC and this applies to Sweden as well. However, a recent court ruling (June, 2019) provided clarification that while hemp is excluded from the definition of cannabis, and therefore is not considered a drug. A CBD preparation containing THC does not meet this exception and is therefore considered a drug.
CBD oil is widely accepted in Norway. The Norwegian Parliament decriminalized personal drug use in December 2017. As long as there’s 0% trace of THC, CBD is legal. Norway is not a part of the European Union, which has a .2% THC limit. It is legal to use and possess CBD only if it is prescribed by a doctor.
CBD oil is legal in the Netherlands as long as it was produced outside of The Netherlands and contains less than the legal concentration of 0.2% THC in its formulation.
The United Kingdom
Cannabis remains illegal in the United Kingdom although the government has made some concessions on the dispensary of medical cannabis. While the UK remains strongly averse to the idea of legalized cannabis, growing public concerns and agitation is likely to shift the pendulum in the nearest future.
Legal Status Of CBD Around The World
In Canada, as in the US, hemp flower with THC of less than .3% is legal as long as it complies with the regulations set forth in the Cannabis Act.
In May the South African Health Minister amended the country’s Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965, to remove certain cannabidiol preparations for nonserious health claims. The change to South Africa’s medicines law means the country is the first in Africa to carve out a federally approved market for nonprescription CBD.The rule change pertains to preparations that contain a maximum daily dose of 20 milligrams of CBD and that contain not more than 0.001% of THC and not more than 0.0075% total CBD.
Many countries in Asia have some of the strictest cannabis laws in the World.
In Japan, cannabis possession alone can land you a five year prison term with 7-10 years for cultivation, sale, and transport. Surprisingly, CBD oil IS LEGAL in Japan. However, it has to contain absolutely 0% THC.
While the consumption of CBD has not yet been authorized in China, this hasn't stopped some states in the Country from cashing in on the cannabis boom and cultivating cannabis to produce CBD oil. To produce hemp in China requires, among other things, approval from the police to insure that the plant is bred with less than .3% THC. This is difficult to enforce in theory, as you won't know the % of THC until the hemp is harvested. China is another country with some of the strictest drug enforcement policies in the world. Cultivating and using marijuana in China are strictly forbidden, and it's uncertain whether or not CBD will be legal for use in food or medicines any time soon. Currently China permits the sale of hemp seeds and hemp oil and the use of CBD in cosmetics.
South Korea was the first country in east Asia to legalize Medical Cannabis in November, 2018. CBD oil is legal but strictly for medical purposes from a short list of approved drugs.
In August, 2019 the Ministry of Public Health took CBD off of the Narcotics list as long as it is 99% pure and contains no more than .01% THC by weight. This oil can be derived from cannabis or hemp as long as there is less than .01% THC. Thailand currently bans imports of 99%-pure CBD oil made from cannabis for a period of five years from the date the regulation came into effect on September 2, 2019. Any imports during that time will be considered a narcotic. While CBD oil made from cannabis is illegal to import, there is no ban on imports of CBD oil made from hemp.
The Republic has an absolute zero tolerance position on drugs. There may be a health case for CBD in Singapore despite the harsh drug policies. In February, the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Home Affairs commented that it was vital to distinguish between compounds containing unprocessed illicit substances and medically useful supplements with cannabinoids.In other words, any material with scientific evidence backing its efficacy and safety for the body might not be considered illicit. Currently, the country is exploring medical treatments and the utility of CBD.
The laws in India are very unclear. Growing hemp is allowed only with special permission. It is said, that cannabis medicines are allowed and legally available under the AYUSH ministry as Ayurvedic medicine. It is advised to be careful when importing/exporting any products that are made from hemp/cannabis
CBD in Latin America
Several Latin American countries have relaxed their laws surrounding cannabinoids, including non-psychoactive cannabidiol (“CBD”).
Mexico in days would join the league of countries that have fully legalized the cultivation, processing, sale, possession, and use of Cannabis and cannabis derivatives. This has come on the heels of an October, 31st 2018 Supreme Court ruling.
However, the laws since 2015 have been a little relaxed with medical CBD for the treatment of degenerative ailments such as cancer and Parkinson disease.
Brazil has been a long-time opponent of cannabis legalization, but in April 2014, the country and its regulatory authority ANVISA legalized CBD for therapeutic uses. Currently, the government has approved the import of hemp-based CBD oils for epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, and chronic pain, including migraine headaches.
The following list is a list of countries that we know do allow CBD Oil from Hemp:
Lastly, here’s a descriptive video about CBD legal status around the world up to 2018: