At a glance: current status of CBD legislation
The current status of CBD legislation in Europe and elsewhere
The year 2020 might not go down in the history books as one of the best, but it was still the year in which the UN removed cannabis from its list of dangerous drugs.
And even if we here in Germany can’t fully live out that victory at the moment, the great thing is that the EU’s reassessment of cannabis might now open some long overdue doors to the consumption of its non-psychoactive component cannabidiol.
Because CBD is derived from the cannabis plant and must therefore be clearly distinguished from substances containing psychoactive components, cannabidiol sometimes still faces a few hurdles.
Fortunately, CBD products here in Germany are increasingly available on the internet and in drugstores. And, just to make sure you’re up to date on the big picture, we took a look at what’s happening in the rest of Europe and the world.
The EU’s position on CBD
In mid-2020, the EU Commission was still threatening to classify hemp extracts containing CBD as narcotics.
In November of that year, however, the European Court of Justice pre-empted that decision by issuing the following ruling: as long as a maximum THC content of 0.2 percent was adhered to, such extracts would not be considered a narcotic.
We were not necessarily surprised at the ruling, but definitely relieved. (We should probably mention at this point that we’re totally convinced of the potential pain-relieving effects of CBD and think that it would have been crazy to put them in the same category as heroin and benzodiazepines.)
At the same time, CBD still falls under the regulations set up by the European Food Safety Authority or EFSA. And this body recommends that the sale of foodstuffs containing CBD be subject to testing by each member country’s own national food authority and also be classified as belonging to the “Novel Food" category.
Novel Foods are defined as foods that were hardly consumed as foods or used as ingredients before 1997. Unfortunately, approval as a Novel Food can be an expensive process. On the other hand, flavouring and cosmetic products containing CBD are permitted without further ado; that is, as long as they don’t exceed the maximum level of THC, of course.
Regulating CBD products: How do individual EU countries handle it?
As is often the case with the EU, since the authorities responsible for such issues provide only recommendations, each individual member state is left to cook up their own rules.
Thus, as a result, CBD oil with a THC content of up to 0.2 percent is fundamentally allowed in some EU countries. In Switzerland, a THC concentration of up to 1 full percent is permitted. At the same time, in France, only CBD isolates, i.e. products with 0 percent CBD, are allowed. In Slovakia and Lithuania, CBD oil is totally banned.
If you’re interested in finding out why legislation in Germany is quite liberal, you should take a moment to read our article on the status of CBD legislation in Germany.
The status of CBD legislation outside of Europe
In some legal contexts, the status of CBD is still connected to that of cannabis, because the difference between the two – despite the very clear distinction – is only apparent to some at second glance.
In many Asian and Aftican countries, for example, cannabis is not permitted at all. Even in countries such as the Netherlands and Jamaica, which have a reputation for being very open to cannabis, recreational use remains in a gray area.
In countries where cannabis is allowed, however, the question regarding the legality of CBD simply doesn’t arise at all: Canada, Uruguay and some states in the US even permit the consumption of substances containing THC for recreational use. And who knows, maybe Germany will the club sometime in the near future?
In China, CBD with a maximum of 0.3 percent THC content is permitted. In Japan, CBD products are not allowed to contain any traces of it whatsoever. Though its a pioneer of CBD research, Israel currently only permits pharmacies to sell it. South Africa is one of the few African countries to approve certain hemp extracts containing CBD. However, these extracts must meet certain specifications, including a maximum THC limit of 0.001 percent.
For the sake of clarity, we’ll spare you a description of the specific legislation in the remaining 191 countries of the world. Still, if you find yourself abroad in the near future, we’ve compiled an article on what you need to know when travelling with CBD.
If you’re like us, all this legal talk means you could probably use a few puffs from one of our vapers right now – which are designed to foster relaxation. And luckily for us, they’re also fully legal in this country.