CBD status around the world

CBD has recently been on the rise, in particular because of its many beneficial effects on the body. However, the world community remains cautious to legalize this molecule because of the risk of confusion that could exist with THC and therefore cannabis. 

Let’s take a look today at the legislation around the world about CBD.

CBD and THC: how to avoid confusion?

CBD and THC are part of the cannabinoid family which has over 100 different compounds. These two molecules are found naturally in the hemp plant, also known as “cannabis”. While CBD has only recently come to the fore, THC has been recognized for many years, but above all for its harmful effects on the human body and brain.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the substance that causes the harmful psychoactive effects of cannabis. CBD effects are not intoxicating or psychoactive. On the contrary, several studies have found these beneficial and soothing effects on the body and mind.

So why so much confusion about these two compounds from hemp? Often hemp and cannabis are confused. Hemp is today a variety of plants that is regulated and subject to strict controls so that it can then be used in many industries. 

Difference between THC and CBD

CBD occurs naturally in hemp plants in varying amounts. It is extracted to create all kinds of CBD products: CBD oil, CBD wax, e-liquid for e-cigarettes and many others. These hemp plants have no trace of THC, or in infinitesimal quantities: they have no chance of making you “high” or of making you addicted.

The commonly called cannabis hemp plants that contain more than 0.3% THC, sometimes with much higher contents, should not be used. These plants with high THC levels are considered drugs in most countries of the world and are therefore illegal.

The confusion between the two compounds therefore comes from the fact that they come from the same variety of plant: hemp. However, THC has shown its harmful effects on health while CBD can have a real therapeutic value. Despite this, governments are sometimes still cautious in authorizing CBD, often to avoid drifts and the risk of misunderstandings and although the scientific community expresses the idea that the CBD molecule is promising.

Let’s take stock of the legislation around CBD in different countries in Europe. Obviously, this information is valid at the time of writing, but may change in the coming years, or even months.

CBD in Europe

Most European countries have adopted regulations around CBD products, notably by legislating their THC content.

In Germany, Spain and France for example, the THC content of the hemp plants used should not exceed 0.2%. In Switzerland, this rate is 1%. In Italy it is 0.6%. We can see how little tolerance for THC levels remains unequivocal in Europe.

Some countries do not make it clear that CBD is subject to strict regulations. In Germany for example, CBD is not mentioned as a controlled substance. In fact, you can find CBD products in nearby stores. 

In the Netherlands where THC is tolerated despite the fact that the substance is legally prohibited, CBD is also allowed. In France, on the other hand, the look is more severe and the authorities believe that they do not have enough perspective on CBD to be certain that it is 100% safe.

Some countries also use CBD as an effective therapeutic alternative. This has been the case in Germany since 2017. 

In the United Kingdom, CBD is authorized when it is sold as a dietary supplement. It has also recently been authorized on medical prescription for patients with specific medical needs: it has become a medicine in its own right. 

In the same vein, Belgium has authorized pharmacists to sell CBD preparations on medical prescription since August 2019. Belgium, like 17 other European countries, also authorizes the prescription of the drug Sativex, an oral spray which contains CBD and THC and is intended for patients with multiple sclerosis. This drug is also not marketed in France despite a marketing authorization dating from 2014, which is not without causing misunderstanding of the patients affected by this drug.

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