CBD products have been taking the world by storm—from health and wellness to beauty and skincare. However, the legality surrounding CBD products can be a little complex. That’s because CBD, although not psychoactive, comes from the cannabis plant—the same plant that produces THC-rich buds. It can be especially confusing in Europe, where so many different countries have different opinions about the legality of CBD. Luckily, we’re here to clear up any doubts about the legality of CBD in Europe—so continue reading below to find out everything you need to know.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid—the name for compounds unique to cannabis. CBD is the second most abundant cannabinoid naturally found in cannabis flowers, next to THC. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it doesn’t cause the feeling of being high that cannabis is known for. Instead, CBD is known to stimulate support of a wide range of physical and mental effects, such as:
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Pain
  • Heart Health
  • Acne
  • Cancer
The best part of CBD is that it can be applied topically. That means that CBD can absorb through the skin—creating localized relief that turns into deep relaxation.

Where Does CBD Come From?

As we mentioned, CBD is naturally found in the cannabis plant—right alongside THC-rich flowers. However, the CBD found in many products today comes from a specially bred species of cannabis known as hemp. Hemp is a low-THC breed of cannabis that’s used throughout the world to make CBD products. CBD and other cannabinoids are naturally extracted from hemp or used whole to produce various natural wellness products.

European CBD Laws

Although CBD is non-intoxicating, it comes from a plant that produces THC—an illegal substance. That means hemp and CBD are subject to confusing and draconian drug laws created long in the past. However, in Europe, the European Union (EU) and non-EU countries have a standard for industrial hemp use. Industrial hemp is defined as cannabis plants that have less than 0.2% THC after harvest. This industrial hemp is then used to create a variety of different CBD products. The thing is, the law is different depending on what type of CBD product is being made. According to EU law, CBD products fall under these categories:
  • Supplements
  • Foods
  • Cosmetics
  • Skincare
  • Medicinal
  • E-Liquids and Smoking
Some of these categories are then grouped together and fall under one law. Supplements and food fall under one law, and so does cosmetic and skincare. For supplements and food, the EU law isn’t clear, so CBD products are stuck in a grey zone, leaving each country to decide what to do. However, most countries follow the same rule about industrial hemp and allow CBD products with less than 0.2% THC in them. On the other hand, laws for cosmetics and skincare are very clearCBD extracts can be used in beauty products with no issues.

CBD Laws in Germany

Germany is Europe’s largest market for CBD products and allows CBD products that have less than 0.2% THC in them. Although Germany hasn’t made it clear whether CBD is allowed in food, they don’t restrict access to low-THC oils and CBD skincare products.

CBD Laws in Spain

Spain is one of the most lenient countries when it comes to CBD use. Spain recently changed its CBD laws and now states that CBD oils and foods can be made as long as the CBD is from an approved hemp strain.

CBD Laws in France

France is one of the most strict countries when it comes to CBD. In 2017, France tried to ban CBD products that had any amount of THC in them. However, in 2021, the EU court made it illegal to ban CBD products that are legal in other EU countries. In short, France cannot ban CBD products with less than 0.2% THC, so they remain legal.

CBD Laws in the UK

Although the UK is no longer part of the EU, it shares the same industrial hemp and CBD product laws. The UK is likely going to allow the use of CBD in food, but no product has been authorized yet.

CBD Laws in Poland

Poland follows the rest of the EU with its CBD laws. The only difference is that CBD products sold in Poland have an added 5% value-added tax (VAT) rate.

Shifting Laws

We need to remember that the CBD market is taking its baby steps in Europe. Each year the legal landscape is shifting, and nothing is set in stone. However, there’s a bright future ahead because of two new pieces of legislation. First, the EU recently declared that CBD that comes from industrial hemp is not a narcotic and doesn’t have any harmful effects on human health. That means that as long as a country is in the EU, that country can’t ban CBD products, like in France. On top of that, the European Parliament raised the THC limit on industrial hemp from 0.2% to 0.3%. Europe is moving slowly but surely towards more lenient CBD laws. That’s great news for everyone because CBD has the potential to create sustainable, natural, and cruelty-free products that provide relief and a sense of wellness.