Is CBD legal in the EU?

As governments, law makers and health professionals tie themselves in knots over the deregulation of cannabis for medicinal and recreational use, it’s unsurprising that the average consumer is a little confused. 

Here we’ll try to provide a simple guide to what’s legal in the European Union (EU), and an explanation of the names and acronyms to be aware of when using cannabis-derived products.

What’s the difference between cannabis and hemp?

Fist of all, ‘cannabaceae’ is the parent name for all cannabis plants, but there are a lot of subdivisions. For the purposes of this article we’ll focus on the split between ‘hemp’ and ‘cannabis/marijuana’.


The two best-known active components of cannabis are CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Both have a range of potential health benefits, individually and when combined. While THC provides the ‘high’ that cannabis is famous for, CBD is is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as posing no risk to humans.

All of the products derived from strains to the right of the graphic above would be illegal in the majority of EU countries for two reasons. They are termed ‘cannabis/marijuana’ rather than ‘hemp’, and they are more likely to have a level of THC that has a psychoactive effect providing the ‘high’ we mentioned above.

In theory it’s quite possible to grow ‘non-hemp-cannabis’ plants that have virtually zero THC, but right now they would still be illegal in the majority of countries. On the other hand ‘industrial hemp’ and its associated CBD products are not prohibited by the EU as long as the THC level is no higher than 0.2%.

Where is CBD legal?

To be clear, different countries do have different internal regulations, with countries such as the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland (not technically EU) and Czech Republic already taking a more relaxed position. While all cannabis products, including CBD are illegal in Slovakia.

But as a starting point, ‘industrial-hemp-CBD’ products do not contravene EU law and are available as over-the-counter products in many EU countries. Any stronger formulation that incorporates a higher level of THC should be treated with caution regardless of the legal situation, as benefits may also be associated with stronger side effects.

For an updated global guide check out wikipedia’s comprehensive coverage…

CBD and medical research

With regard to CBD there are a wide range of completed, and ongoing (pre) clinical trials examining a plethora of potential health benefits. As we’ve highlighted on the Healing Bodies page of this site, the most promising developments are in the areas of sleep/insomnia, pain management, inflammation/injury recovery and anxiety/stress.

There is also positive research about epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and cancer, though some of the potential results may involve a CBD and THC compound which would be a prescription or in-patient product in the majority of countries. Under EU law we cannot make any categorical health claims but can advise as to the areas of research that demonstrate the greatest potential.

MBC says:

Using an ‘industrial-hemp’ derived CBD product within the EU should not affect your judgement or your liberty – but we always recommend double checking your country’s current status, and using any new product in moderation.

All products available via Mind Body Community are derived from ‘industrial-hemp’ unless clearly stated.