Legal status of CBD in different countries Overview and changes

CBD, or cannabidiol, has seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years due to its potential health benefits. It is one of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.

Technical vs "ordinary" cannabis

Cannabidiol is extracted from so-called technical cannabis, not from the marijuana itself, as is the case with THC. This is what makes CBD legal in many countries.

The biggest difference between technical hemp and so-called recreational marijuana is the cannabinoid content, which differs significantly between the two. Regular cannabis used for recreational purposes, or marijuana, contains between 5 and 30% THC, while industrial hemp generally contains only 0.3% THC or less. According to Government Decree No 463/2013 Coll. on the list of addictive substances, technical cannabis refers to a registered variety in which the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does not exceed 1% of the dry weight of the plant.

Legality of CBD

Most countries have a limit on the THC content that a CBD product must not exceed. This limit may vary from country to country. Therefore, it is important to be aware of how and which countries have a stance on this to avoid problems and to keep an overview. So it's time to get a clear picture of this and tell ourselves what the current situation with CBD really is.

Legislation on CBD

  • Czech Republic

From 2021, the THC limit is set at 1%. According to Act No 167/1998 Coll. on Addictive Substances, CBD is legal if it comes from the aforementioned technical hemp containing less than 1% THC. Technical hemp with this limit may be freely purchased, stored and processed. However, the amount of CBD must be in accordance with the legal limit.

  • Germany

The laws in Germany were previously strict and the limit was set at 0,2 % THC. However, from 2024 the limit is being increased to 0,3 % THC. The aim is to align the guidelines with international standards and facilitate the trade and use of CBD products. The sale of CBD products is now allowed as long as these products are clearly labelled as non-psychoactive products containing the necessary information on ingredients and recommended use. Germany is currently well on its way to legalising cannabis. A proposal has been put forward to allow the possession of 30 grams of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 3 plants.

  • Poland

In Poland, CBD with up to 0.2% THC is legal and can be sold as a food supplement.

  • Slovakia

In 2021, CBD was removed from the blacklist, i.e. the list of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, making CBD products legal under certain conditions. The conditions are similar to those of most countries, in particular a THC limit of 0.2%. However, the products are not intended for direct consumption.

  • Netherlands

The Netherlands has long been considered one of the most liberal countries. Both CBD and THC are legal here. Free CBD products without a prescription must not exceed the 0,05 % THC limit. You can find special cannabis shops called coffee shops, which are allowed to sell cannabis with a higher THC content. However, this is contrary to the prohibition on growing cannabis with a higher THC content. These shops can legally sell it but are not allowed to grow it.

  • Italy

Italy is known for its relaxed atmosphere and pleasant environment. It is good to say that it carries a relatively flexible attitude towards CBD. Most European countries are around the 0.3% THC limit, in Italy the limit is set at 0.6% THC, which is a relatively high level. CBD products are available in shops and online as long as they meet the THC limit. These include food supplements and cosmetic or technical products. It also allows the sale of high CBD and low THC cannabis strains, not called 'Cannabis Light'.

  • Ireland

As of 2024, CBD is legal in Ireland under certain conditions. Ireland is governed by the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy and is primarily shaped by EU regulations and national legislation. One of the main issues is the lack of standardised testing and labelling requirements for CBD products. This makes it difficult for consumers to assess the quality and safety of the products they buy. Finding a balance between ensuring consumer safety and encouraging industrial innovation therefore remains a challenge. As for the future, it depends largely on Ireland's willingness to adapt to new scientific evidence and societal attitudes. This will determine how CBD is perceived and used in the years to come.

  • Lithuania

In June 2021, an amendment to the Law on Hemp was approved, opening up new possibilities for the use of industrial hemp in Lithuania. According to this law, CBD products are legal if they contain no more than 0.2% THC. There is a lot of evidence on the benefits of CBD for human health and the safety of the substance. It is this evidence that is contributing to changes in the perception and regulation of CBD across Europe. In the near future, it can therefore be expected that Lithuania will also consider the potential of CBD and contribute to its use.

  • Latvia

Another country where CBD is legal under certain conditions is Latvia. CBD products are legal as long as their limit does not exceed 0.2% THC as in other European countries where the limit is similar. Those items with a limit of less than 0.2% THC cannot make any health claims and must be labelled as dietary supplements.

  • Belgium

Legislation on CBD is constantly evolving in Belgium. Cannabis and its derivatives are considered legal provided they do not contain more than 0,2 % THC. Other cannabis derivatives containing CBD i.e. herbal teas etc. do not yet have a precise status, reflecting the grey area in the regulations.

  • Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, CBD derived from industrial hemp, i.e. hemp plants with less than 0.2% THC, is legal. The cultivation, production and sale of CBD products derived from hemp are allowed. However, they must meet strict quality and labelling standards. If they are compounds with higher THC content, they are considered controlled substances and are illegal.

  • Denmark

In July 2018, the Ministry of Health amended the Euphoric Substances Ordinance and legalised cannabis products with a limit of 0.2% THC. However, manufacturers wishing to produce and sell must first obtain permission from the DVFA that the product complies with the regulations on dietary supplements. This means that the limit is not the only condition for products to be allowed on the market.

  • Estonia

In Estonia, CBD is legal as long as products meet the 0.3% THC limit. These products cannot be promoted as medicines, only as food supplements. Interestingly, Estonia ranks 28th among the countries whose inhabitants consume the most marijuana.

  • Finland

Finland takes inspiration from other EU countries where the THC limit is set at 0.2%. Such a small amount is supposedly safe and does not cause altered consciousness. In addition, in order to place a CBD product on the market, the manufacturer must have a permit from the Finnish Food Authority and with it a certificate of analysis for the product. This procedure is intended to prove the safety, purity and concentration of CBD and other compounds.

  • France

CBD only became legal in France in 2021. France has largely been forced to make some legal concessions for the sale of CBD by pressure from its citizens. This therefore means that CBD is legal at a set limit of 0.3% THC. However, there have been no concessions for other cannabinoids and THC remains illegal in France except by special government authorisation.

  • Croatia

As in most EU countries, the final product must not contain more than 0.2% THC. In Croatia, CBD products sold with a medical prescription or for recreational use have far fewer requirements to meet, but they still have to register all their products. Importantly, Croatia allows the importation of CBD products from abroad as long as they meet the requirements, of course. If you are planning a vacation to this country, be sure to bring proof of purchase and THC content tests to present to customs.

  • Luxembourg

Cannabis regulations here are very clear and business-friendly. In Luxembourg, the cultivation, import and export of industrial hemp and hemp products are allowed as long as they meet the 0.3% THC limit.

  • Hungary

CBD is legal in Hungary as long as the THC content is below 0.2%. However, CBD oils are still a question mark and their production is not allowed in the country. There is a distinction between recreational and medicinal CBD products.

  • Portugal

A decree was published in 2021 related to the cultivation and production of products from the cannabis plant. Like most EU Member States, Portugal allows the sale of CBD with the restriction that these final products contain less than 0.2% THC.

  • Austria

Austria has a maximum THC limit of 0.3%. What is interesting is that CBD oil is illegal as a food supplement but legal as a flavouring with the addition of "unfit for consumption". Food and cosmetics containing CBD are generally not legally available for sale, however CBD teas are legal as they are not extracts and thus do not fall under the Novel Food Regulation.

  • Romania

The maximum permitted THC content in Romania is set at 0,2 %. However, it is set in the cannabis plant at the cultivation stage, not in the final product. Recreational use of cannabis is prohibited, but at the end of 2018 Romania decriminalised the acquisition of products with psychoactive effects by the final consumer for personal use.

  • Greece

Since 2017, Greece has legalised CBD with less than 0.2% THC. In doing so, it joined the growing list of countries that have opened the door to medical marijuana.

  • Slovenia

Slovenia has a maximum legal THC limit of 0.2%, similar to other countries in the European Union. However, medical marijuana has not yet been legalised here and only selected cannabis-based medicines have been made available to patients.

  • Spain

According to the law in force in Spain, the production of CBD complies with EU law, which stipulates that it must not contain more than 0.2% THC. Despite the legal restrictions on the sale and distribution of CBD and marijuana in Spain, there are coffee shops. However, they are not like the open coffee shops operating in the Netherlands. They are in the form of closed clubs open only to members who have to sign a membership declaration and pay an annual fee.

  • Sweden

Sweden also has a maximum limit of 0,2 % THC. However, what was the main change is 2019, when CBD oil was considered a drug, even if it meets the legal limit. This decision also had an impact for medical cannabis.

  • Ukraine

In Ukraine, the law on medicinal cannabis states that the THC content cannot exceed 0.3% for industrial purposes. This limit should only be exceeded for medical purposes. Consumption for pleasure remains prohibited.

The future of CBD

You may have noticed that each state approaches CBD differently. This may be because of the social conditions in the country and mainly because when CBD products entered the market, the laws were not ready for it. In addition, research was not as extensive as it is today and there was no knowledge of the safety and potential health benefits that CBD can bring us.

According to research by BDS Analytics, CBD sales are projected to grow 49% annually. For many countries that have so far banned CBD or severely restricted its use, the legalization of CBD could mean the potential and opportunity for financial prosperity in the future.

Finally, it is important to remember that laws are constantly changing and being amended, so this information needs to be monitored carefully to avoid misinformation.