The legal status of hemp across Europe

Posted 11 months ago in More

What exactly is hemp? And what does the law say about CBD and hemp in Europe and Ireland?

Hemp products and seeds are legally purchased in many European countries and Ireland. For more on hemp products and all the information about fast-flowering seeds, you can explore this article about the hemp plant and its status.

Hemp Legislation in Europe

The regulatory situation regarding cannabis, its derivatives and its applications is far from uniform across Europe. Cannabis boasts a diverse array of applications, with four primary categories emerging:

  • Medical utilisation
  • Recreational consumption
  • The wellness-focused use of CBD products
  • The cultivation of industrial hemp

Due to the contentious nature of cannabis, these applications can face prohibition, criticism, or endorsement. Numerous factors come into play in determining whether a derivative of cannabis can be legally obtained and utilised. As a result, each country approaches and embraces these applications distinctively, often influenced by their stance on anti-drug policies, all while adhering to the overarching guidelines set by the European Union.

Besides, all CBD products are legal and can circulate freely between EU Member States. As a result, according to European legislation, CBD flowers can be considered food and are classified in the list of novel foods. As such, its sale is not prohibited. CBD is a food that can be marketed and consumed. However, the commission considers the THC content at 0.2% relatively high. Consumption of this product could therefore present health risks.

CBD and hemp in Ireland

Under Irish law, cannabis varieties containing THC up to 0.2% are permitted. Extraction methods such as the use of CO2 or solvents are illegal. CBD oil is, therefore, legal if, and only if, it is obtained by cold pressing.

Hemp in Spain

Spain is one of the countries where cannabis legislation is most divisive. Cannabis-based therapeutic treatments remain banned, except in Catalonia, where Sativex has been authorised since 2013.

While industrial hemp is authorised, only the Cannabis Sativa L variety can legally be produced, sold and consumed. Similarly, only CBD products from industrial hemp are legal.

However, the government prohibits therapeutic claims on online purchases of CBD products…

CBD in the Netherlands

One immediately thinks of Amsterdam, known for its relaxed policy towards cannabis consumption. But this tolerance of cannabis is only apparent as Indian hemp (with THC) is “really” illegal. However, you won’t be prosecuted in the famous cannabis cafés. You can’t consume more than 5 grams of cannabis at a time. Because hemp seed and CBD are not explicitly covered by Dutch narcotics legislation, CBD hemp seed oil is legal in the Netherlands.

Let’s also look at laws about CBD out of Europe …

Switzerland and CBD

Switzerland has a long tradition of progressive drug policies, especially about harm reduction.

Last year, the parliament decriminalised the possession of 10g or less of cannabis, and now it does not carry any sanction, not even a fine.

If caught using or possessing more than 10g of cannabis, you could be fined CHF 100. In the land of clocks, it is entirely legal to grow up to four plants for personal use in seven of its thirteen cantons.

Switzerland has been experiencing, in recent years, along with Italy, what could be called CBD fever.

Since the government decriminalised the cultivation, purchase, possession, and consumption of “cannabis light” with less than 1% THC (the threshold is 0.2% in the European Union).

It is considered that it does not cause psychoactive effects, so it is not considered a narcotic substance and is not included in the Narcotics Law of the Alpine country.

CBD products are everywhere in Switzerland: supermarkets, speciality stores, newsagents and department stores. Even the supermarket chain Lidl offers CBD cigarettes on its shelves!

CBD and hemp as Novel Food

EU legislation has moved towards a degree of restriction. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published new guidelines that affect cannabinoid-enriched foods: “If CBD is to be considered as a food additive, it will have to be registered as a novel dietary ingredient”.

A national food authority must now approve all CBD products as “novel food”. These new directives are not mandatory, but some EU Member States have already amended their laws on CBD accordingly.

The legal status summarised

To summarise: hemp products such as oils, seeds, and CBD are legal to purchase, sell and consume in most European countries.

To ensure the best hemp products, purchase the best quality ones from an online website such as SensorySeeds, one of the leading providers across Europe and Ireland. Products should be of the best quality, packaged safely, and in accordance with the country’s legal status. Lastly, it is best to read the rules of the specific area you are travelling to if you intend on using hemp or travelling with it.


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.


National Museum 2024 – Irish


The key to the city. Straight to your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter.