For a long time, cannabis and all its derivatives were illegal all across the world. It was mostly seen as a harmful drug and was therefore forbidden to use and to grow. But as our knowledge about the cannabinoids progressed, it was discovered, that cannabis offers so much more than just its psychoactive effects. And after the useful effects of cannabis extracts (such as CBD) became widely known and accepted, governments (Europe included) started adjusting the laws to allow the use of the substances.
Now that the CBD and other similar substances became known for their healing properties, people began to look differently on marijuana altogether. But despite the CBD’s popularity, such transitions need time. CBD and CBD-containing food supplements have become known as a novel food. In short, novel food is by definition a type of food, that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force.
Over the last few years, many countries worldwide are slowly legalizing certain cannabinoids and their extracts. But you still need attention for details while figuring out what’s legal and what isn’t. The legal values of substances in question are accurately defined, and what’s legal in one country might be illegal in another.
THC is often the issue – it is not the substance you’re after, but it still often ends up in your extract. The plant, used as the raw material for extracting CBD is Cannabis Sativa L., a plant, that also contains the psychoactive substance. While the extraction process is optimized for CBD, some of it will still end up in the extract.
There is also THC-free CBD extract, called CBD isolate. Because this product doesn’t contain any psychoactive substances, it’s more likely to be legal. Some countries do allow sale and consumption of CBD, but only if it’s THC-free. You can read more about CBD isolate in this article.
However, being THC-free doesn’t necessarily mean legal. Before starting your CBD store, or going into any CBD – related business, thoroughly check the law regarding CBD, that applies to your situation.
How do the specific regulations impact my CBD business?
If you’re planning on getting into any CBD – related business, knowing your country’s law is absolutely essential. Even if you have the purest intentions, you might find yourself in serious legal trouble, if you end up dealing with something that’s illegal. Even though dealing with CBD will often mean you’re dealing with a food supplement, don’t forget, that you’re also dealing with a formerly illegal drug.
If you’re interested in the sale of CBD, you need to be familiar with the law of the country you’re based in as well as the law of the countries you’re selling to. Whether you want to grow industrial hemp, process Cannabis Sativa L., or sell CBD oil, you need to be familiar with all the applicable laws.
Is CBD completely legal in the entire European Union?
There is, unfortunately, no short and definitive answer to this question, as every country in the EU has its own laws and regulations. While all CBD products aren’t legal in every country in the European Union, it is legal at least in some form in most countries.
Regarding the general attitude towards cannabis in general, Europe was long one of the most liberal places worldwide. A nice example is the Netherlands, where the recreational use of marijuana is legal for decades already. Another example is the Czech Republic, where possession and use of the substance were decriminalized.
While recreational and medicinal use of a substance is two completely different things, a generally relaxed attitude still helped get CBD and similar substances legalized sooner. Many countries were already in the process of decriminalizing cannabis in the last decade, which made legalizing CBD easier.
But to get back to the original question, where is CBD legal? To get a definitive and unambiguous answer, we need to talk about the laws and regulations in all the member states. We’ll go over each country in the EU separately, check whether CBD is legal there, but first, let’s look at the EU novel food regulation, which is common for all the member states.
EU novel food regulation of CBD
As previously mentioned, all the “new” foods are, according to an EU regulation, considered a novel food and must be treated accordingly. Formerly, it was recognized, that hemp (or its seeds and leaves, to be exact) has indeed been used as a food, and should therefore not be considered a novel food.
However, in 2019, a revision was made to the novel food regulation, in which the entries for both CBD and Cannabis Sativa L. were changed. It now states that only seeds and seed oil are considered traditional. Food supplements and similar products, made from leaves and all extracts, containing CBD are now considered as a novel food.
But what does that mean for the CBD industry?
According to the regulation, all food, and food supplements, that contain hemp leaves or extracts now need to obtain special pre-marketing authorization before entering the market. These authorizations are costly both in terms of time and money, which can cause a major set-back. You can find more information about it here.
This regulation is still new, and since most everything in this topic is changing rapidly, this regulation might just change for the better.
In the following chapters, we’ll cover the status regarding CBD for each member state:
- United Kingdom
Austria – YES, with a prescription
Cannabis (and consequently CBD) is somewhat of a grey area in Austria. Possession of cannabis was decriminalized in 2016, but not legalized. This means that having cannabis is still prohibited, but instead of jail, you’ll probably only get fined.
Medicinal cannabis is a thing in Austria, meaning you can get CBD with a doctor’s prescription.
Selling cannabis, however, is considered a much more severe offense, which can end with imprisonment.
Growing industrial hemp in Austria is permitted, but only to extract active substances for medicinal uses.
Up until 2018, it was legal to sell CBD in Austria, as long as the THC levels were below 0.3%. Now, CBD in the form of a food supplement became illegal but is still allowed to be sold as an aromatherapy product.
To summarize: you technically can sell CBD oil in Austria, as long as you label it not for human consumption.
Belgium – Yes, with a doctor’s prescription
Cannabis is still illegal in Belgium but possessing it was decriminalized for adults over 18, only up to 3 grams. In general, the use of THC products is illegal, but well-tolerated and only rarely prosecuted.
Medical cannabis and drugs for medicinal use with active substances, deriving from cannabis, are completely legal. While medical TCH has not gained as much traction as elsewhere in Europe, it is still a growing and expanding movement.
Industrial hemp has been grown in Belgium for years, but for commercial purposes only. Growing and processing of any cannabis plant are prohibited, even with less than 0.2% THC content.
CBD has been sold both online and in stores for years and with virtually no issues, despite being illegal due to a law, passed in 1912.
To summarize: Though Belgium is more strict than other countries in Europe, it is often found in stores and can be purchased hassle-free. CBD oil and similar products are technically still illegal but are regularly sold in stores.
Bulgaria – Yes
Bulgaria was the first country in Europe, that made CBD legal and allowed its sale, but only if it’s made from industrial hemp.
They managed to surpass the above-mentioned EU regulation about novel foods by classifying CBD simply as food. That way, dealing with CBD products is completely legal.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Bulgaria, as long as they have below 0.2% THC content.
Croatia – Yes
Possession of low quantities of THC-containing drugs was decriminalized in Croatia, which means getting caught will only result in a fine.
All products, made from industrial hemp and CBD – containing products are legal, as long as they contain less than 0.2% THC. CBD oils and similar food supplements can also be imported in the country.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Croatia, as long as they have below 0.2% THC content.
Cyprus – Yes
Cyprus made CBD legal, but only if it comes from industrial hemp. It must also not exceed the 0.2% THC-limit at any point in its production. It is also allowed to travel to Cyprus with CBD oil, bought in the United Kingdom.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Cyprus, as long as they don’t exceed 0.2% threshold of THC content at any point in production.
Czech Republic/Czechia – Yes
When it comes to cannabis, the Czech Republic is one of the most liberal in the whole of Europe, where recreational cannabis was decriminalized years ago. Possession of up to 10 grams and cultivation of 5 plants or less will only result in a small fine.
According to the state, any cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC are legal. This means that the and use of CBD oil is completely legal in Czech Republic.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in the Czech Republic, as long as they contain below 0.3% THC.
Denmark – No (but not prosecuted)
The use of CBD oil and similar cannabis products have been on the rise in the past few years. With the rise in familiarity and use in Denmark, some changes in regulations have occurred, but they made the understanding of what’s legal and what isn’t somewhat ambiguous.
The whole legal status in Denmark regarding CBD products is kind of a grey area. Since July 2018, the cannabis-derived products with below 0.2% THC levels are no longer subject to the laws regarding drug use and possession. Instead, these products are now considered as medical and food products, when it comes to regulations.
Because of that, it is not completely clear whether CBD oil with listed medical benefits would be considered a food supplement or a prescription medication.
So technically, it would be illegal to openly sell, manufacture, or process CBD – related products, but it is very unlikely to be enforced.
Despite this legal ambiguity, CBD oil is being sold hassle-free in both online and offline stores. However, this is only valid for products under the 0.2% content level, as any product above that is still illegal.
To summarize: While it is still technically illegal, CBD oil and similar products can be bought hassle-free in Denmark. This is only valid for products, containing less than 0.2% THC.
Estonia – Yes
In Estonia, recreational cannabis is decriminalized, where possessing up to 7.5 grams will only result in a fine. Possessing and distributing large amounts of cannabis still remains illegal.
Dealing with medical cannabis is allowed, but only with a special permit.
The country made CBD legal, but it must not exceed 0.2% THC level.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Estonia, as long as they contain below 0.2% THC.
Finland – Yes, with a doctor’s prescription
Finland had made CBD legal, but products containing CBD are considered a medicine and require a prescription issued from a medical professional. Any other cannabis derivatives are illegal and though it’s not often enforced, punishments for even minor possession can be fairly harsh.
To summarize: CBD oil is only legal in Finland with a doctor’s prescription.
France – Yes
The legal status regarding CBD oil and medical cannabis is similar to other western European countries.
Possession of cannabis has been decriminalized and is punishable only with a fine.
CBD oil and is completely legal and can be sold in stores and online, as long as it does not exceed 0.2% content of THC.
To summarize: CBD oil is completely legal in France, as long as it contains below 0.2% THC.
Germany – Yes
Germany was amongst the most liberal countries in the EU when it comes to accepting cannabis, which does show on its current legal status regarding CBD oil. It is completely legal to be sold and purchased, as long as it doesn’t exceed the 0.2% threshold THC content.
If you’re interested in the details regarding Germany’s legal status of CBD, you can read more in this article.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Germany, as long as they contain below 0.2% THC.
Greece – Yes
Greece had made CBD legal, but only if it doesn’t exceed 0.2% THC content level during its production. It is also permitted to travel to Greece with CBD oil, bought in the United Kingdom.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Greece, as long as they don’t exceed 0.2% threshold of THC levels at any point in production.
Hungary – Yes
CBD is legal in Hungary. In fact, the status regarding CBD is the same as in Greece.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Hungary, as long as they don’t surpass the 0.2% threshold of THC content at any point in production.
Ireland – Yes
In Ireland, CBD is legal, but it is still somewhat of a grey area.
Medical cannabis was made legal in Ireland in recent years, but only for treating certain illnesses, such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.
The CBD, that is sold in stores around Ireland, is classified as a food supplement, which must have THC levels below the 0.2% threshold, and has to be manufactured from hemp extract.
It is also legal to grow hemp in Ireland, but only with a special permit and follow the methods, defined by the EU.
To summarize: CBD is legal in Ireland, as long as it contains below 0.2% THC and is made from hemp extract.
Italy – Yes
CBD oil is legal in Italy if it comes from industrial hemp. It must also not exceed the 0.6% THC threshold at any point in its production, which is substantially more than what’s allowed in other countries in Europe.
The cultivation of hemp is also legal in Italy.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Italy, as long as they don’t surpass the 0.6% threshold of THC levels at any point in production.
Latvia – Yes
In Latvia, CBD is legal, but only if it doesn’t exceed 0.2% THC content level during its production. It is also permitted to travel to Latvia with CBD oil, bought in the UK.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Latvia, as long as they don’t surpass 0.2% levels of THC content at any point in production.
Lithuania – Yes
CBD is legal in Lithuania. In fact, the status regarding CBD is the same as in Latvia.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Lithuania, as long as they don’t surpass a 0.2% threshold of THC levels at any point in production.
Luxembourg – Yes
CBD is legal in Luxembourg. In fact, the status is the same as in Latvia, with the only exception in the THC levels. Luxembourg permits a maximum of 0.3% THC.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Lithuania, as long as they don’t surpass 0.3% threshold of THC levels at any point in production.
Malta – Yes, with a prescription
Possession of cannabis is decriminalized in Malta for quantities up to 3.5 grams.
Malta made CBD legal, but only for medical purposes, which means it is only available through a doctor’s prescription.
To summarize: CBD oil is legal in Malta, but only with a prescription.
Netherlands – Yes
Among all the countries around the world, the Netherlands has long been one of the most liberal countries, when it comes to cannabis. Recreational use of cannabis has been decriminalized, and its sale and use are widely tolerated, but only in licensed coffee shops.
Technically speaking, CBD is legal, but CBD oil is illegal, because of a detail in law, stating that cannabinoids shouldn’t be isolated from the cannabis plant. Despite this specific law, CBD is widely available in the Netherlands, online as well as in stores.
To summarize: In the Netherlands, CBD is legal, and while CBD oil is technically illegal, it is widely available.
Poland – Yes
Formerly, the mindset in Poland towards illicit substances was very negative, and the same was true for cannabis. Fortunately, this has changed for the better in recent years.
Poland made CBD, but only if it doesn’t surpass 0.2% THC level during its production. It is also permitted to travel to Poland with CBD oil, bought in the UK.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Poland, as long as they don’t surpass 0.2% levels of THC at any point in production.
Portugal – Yes, with a prescription
In Portugal, the recreational use of cannabis is decriminalized – up to 25 grams. CBD is also legal, but because it is considered a medicine, it can only be acquired through a doctor’s prescription.
To summarize: CBD oil is legal in Portugal, but only with a prescription.
Romania – Yes
In Romania, recreational cannabis is illegal, but medical cannabis is permitted, as long as its THC levels are less than 0.2%.
Unlike most other countries in the EU, Romania has no restrictions regarding the source of CBD.
To summarize: CBD oil is completely legal in Romania, as long as it doesn’t surpass a 0.2% threshold of THC levels.
Slovakia – No
Slovakia is one of the strictest countries in Europe, where possession of even small quantities of cannabis can result in a lengthy prison sentence. Their law recognizes CBD as a psychoactive substance and is therefore illegal.
Any production, possession, or sale of CBD is forbidden and punishable by law.
To summarize: CBD and any other hemp extracts are illegal in Slovakia.
Slovenia – Yes
In Slovenia, recreational use and possession of cannabis was decriminalized but is still punishable by a fine.
Regarding the legality of CBD: its use and sale are permitted by law, but only as long as it doesn’t surpass the 0.2% threshold of THC content.
We’d also like to point out that Essentia Pura is based in Slovenia. The fact that we produce CBD oil and similar products, that are extracted from cannabis also makes us proof of the legality of CBD in Slovenia.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Slovenia, as long as they don’t surpass 0.2% levels of THC at any point in production.
Spain – Yes
Spain is also fairly liberal when it comes to cannabis. By law, cultivating cannabis for personal use is legal.
Despite this regulation, it is forbidden to sell CBD products as consumables. However, they can be sold as cosmetics. Therefore, it is completely legal to use and sell CBD oil, as long as it’s labeled “for external use only”.
And besides that necessary label, CBD oil sold in Spain must also have under 0.2% content of THC.
If you want to learn more in detail about the legality of CBD in Spain, check this article.
To summarize: CBD oil is completely legal in Spain, as long as it doesn’t surpass a 0.2% threshold of THC levels, and is labeled as a cosmetics product.
Sweden – Yes
Sweden had made CBD legal but unlike other European countries, it can’t contain any THC. Therefore, only THC-free CBD oil can openly be sold and consumed.
To summarize: CBD products are completely legal in Sweden, as long as they don’t contain any THC.
United Kingdom – Yes
Though the UK is not a part of the European Union anymore, we still think it’s relevant to include it to this list.
UK had made CBD legal but unlike other European countries, it can’t contain any THC. Therefore, only THC-free CBD oil can openly be sold and consumed.
Growing hemp is also allowed in the UK, but only with a special permit.
To summarize: CBD oil is completely legal in the UK, as long as it is completely THC-free.
As CBD is becoming more and more popular, countries around the world have started accepting it. And much like other countries, so has the EU.
We’ve established, that the legal status of CBD in the EU isn’t the most straightforward topic. Each country has its own law, which dictates the way they deal with CBD and cannabis extracts in general.
However, it’s safe to say that throughout most of the EU, CBD oil and other similar cannabis products are legal. Yes, some countries have a weird law or regulation, making the legality of CBD somewhat ambiguous. But with the exception of Slovakia, you can legally buy CBD oil in every member of the EU.
If you are interested in buying CBD in wholesale quantities, please contact us – we’d be happy to answer any additional questions.
Disclaimer: The laws and regulations on this topic are always changing, which means that any information on this topic can quickly become outdated. Moreover, we at Essentia Pura do not guarantee the accuracy of the data, as this article is for informational purposes only. However, it should give you a good overview of the current state in the EU and act as a solid starting point for more thorough research. We cannot stress enough the importance of thorough and correct knowledge on this subject for CBD sellers as well as customers.
Last updated in June 2020