Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles for a cannabis enthusiast to overcome in Europe is the huge degree to which laws vary from country to country.
There is currently no European consensus on whether CBD should be legal or not, and therefore laws can differ greatly, even between countries that share a border.
With that in mind, Europe is one of the most liberal parts of the world when it comes to cannabis, marijuana and legalization.
Tourists and locals can freely enjoy THC-rich marijuana in the coffeeshops of The Netherlands, while members can enjoy the cannabis social clubs in Spain. In the Czech Republic, cannabis has been decriminalized for personal use and possession. In some European countries, it is also legal to cultivate cannabis at home for personal use.
In this article, we’re having a look at what kinds of CBD products are available in Europe and where. As we’re going to discover, it’s not equal across the board.
CBD is legal everywhere except Slovakia
Being in possession of, using and purchasing cannabis is legal everywhere in the EU except for Slovakia. In fact, it can be easily purchased from anywhere between Italy and Norway, and industrial hemp is grown abundantly in Europe for the manufacture of CBD products.
CBD remains a grey area with respect to Italy, whose laws are continually fluctuating and changing with respect to hemp and hemp-derived products. While the country enjoyed a period of legal hemp, the current government recently overturned this law, putting it back into illegal territory.
However, many cannabis products are still being sold in Italy, as businesses have not been instructed to close down. As it stands, the situation regarding hemp and CBD is confusing and turbulent in Italy.
With Slovakia and Italy as exceptions, Europeans can travel freely around Europe with their cannabis products.
Not all CBD products are equal in Europe
EU regulations mean that certain CBD products are regulated more heavily than others, and different rules apply in different countries. For example, the EU, in early 2019, released “guidance” stating that CBD products are considered “novel foods”. It can take up to 3 years for a “novel food” to be approved in the EU, therefore creating some compliance issues for countries that are already freely selling CBD.
In The Netherlands, it is illegal to sell isolated cannabinoids to the public. While both CBD and THC are legal in The Netherlands, and THC and CBD products are generally available, CBD isolate and THC extracts are nowhere to be found in stores. Interestingly, it is still legal to manufacture these products, and many Dutch companies export their THC extracts to the rest of the world. Isolated cannabis is used in the manufacture of vape juices and CBD oil only in The Netherlands.
This is contrary to the Czech Republic, Italy (tentatively) and Switzerland for example, where it is legal to sell CBD isolate to the public. This is not true for THC, as THC is still illegal in these countries. However, customers can purchase CBD isolates freely.
The EU’s CBD market is booming
The EU cannabis market represents a total of 31% of the world’s entire cannabis market, coming second only to North America. Over 90,000 acres of land on the European continent is dedicated to the manufacture of hemp, most of which are concentrated in France, The Netherlands, Lithuania and Romania. This is exponentially greater than the 8,000 acres that were dedicated to hemp cultivation in 2011.
By the end of 2019, the European cannabis market is expected to be worth almost half a million dollars, while the projected market value for the end of 2023 is $1.7 billion.
The European CBD market is slowly catching up to the American CBD market, and until recently, most of the hemp used to manufacture cannabis products in the USA was imported from Europe. Only since hemp was legalized in the USA has hemp cultivation taken off again, with the global market expected to be worth $5-7 billion by 2020.