What’s the Legal Status of CBD in Europe?

Stephen Andrews
18 Jul 2023

CBD products such as oils and topicals are widely available for purchase online and in pharmacies and stores across Europe. Cannabidiol, the non-intoxicating compound of cannabis, is legal in most countries. As a matter of fact, CBD makes up the bulk of the European cannabis market and it’s worth millions of euros in countries like Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and the UK.

There’s no discussion that CBD’s popularity has taken over the world in recent years, and Europe is no exception. With an estimated worth of €951 million (more than US $1 billion), the UK is the most lucrative CBD marketplace in Europe. Germany, the largest EU economy, has the second biggest market, valued at  €385 million ($430 million). 

Most EU countries allow legal sales and free consumption of CBD goods, given that products do not contain more than 0.3% THC content. Until very recently this limit was 0.2%, but the regulation (at EU level) has been revised and most member states have followed. Importantly, some countries such as France, Sweden, Norway and the UK (not all of them in the EU) do not permit commercialization of any CBD product that contains trace amounts of THC. 

Obviously, there’s no short and definitive answer to CBD’s legality in Europe. Each country has its own regulations on the therapeutic cannabinoid and how it’s used and marketed as medicine, cosmetics and foods. 

Historically, the general attitude in Europe towards cannabis has been much more relaxed than most other places around the world. One example is the Netherlands, which has for decades implemented a tolerance policy on the recreational use of marijuana. Other examples are Portugal and the Czech Republic, two countries that were early to decriminalize cannabis. 

Recreational use of cannabis is different from medicinal (though it must be noted that recreational has its therapeutic benefits). Nevertheless, it was precisely due to this more relaxed stance on substances that helped push CBD gain standing among the wider European community. Which ultimately resulted in early continent-wide legalization of CBD and hemp.

Finally, it’s not only member states of the European Union that have legal CBD, but also countries outside the union where CBD and hemp are legal to cultivate and use medicinally. 

What's the legal status of CBD in Europe?

European Countries Where CBD Has a Legal Status

Let’s briefly go through some of the European countries and their laws on CBD and cannabis. 

Countries where CBD products are legal, with a set limit on THC percentage (usually not more than 0.3%), include among others: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain

Countries with vague CBD regulation: Belgium, Georgia, Portugal, Norway, North Macedonia.

Note: In some of these countries, a prescription is required to obtain CBD. 

Legal CBD Countries with Slightly Different Laws

The United Kingdom

The UK is the biggest CBD market in Europe and beyond. Hemp use and cultivation is allowed by law. However, the level of THC in any CBD product must stand at zero. While therapeutic use is legal, there has been some criticism of how hard it is to get prescribed medicinal cannabis through the NHS

The Netherlands

The Dutch have always been liberal about cannabis use. Recreational use is decriminalized and sales and use are widely tolerated. The country is world famous for its coffee shops. According to Dutch law, CBD is legal and products can contain less than 0.5%, which is slightly more than the rest of Europe. 


CBD is completely legal in Italy, and similar to the Dutch, the limit for THC presence is slightly more. Products can contain up to 0.6% of THC at any point of production. 


The Swiss law has a lower limit for THC presence in CBD products. CBD items must contain no more than 1% of THC. The country is considering a full cannabis reform in the near future, with a pilot program already being launched in the city of Basel.  

Sweden, France

Similarly to the UK, the laws of these two countries say CBD products must not contain any trace amount of THC. 

Fully Legal Countries


In 2021, Malta became the first EU country to fully legalize cannabis. Among other things, it’s legal to cultivate a limited number of plants at home for personal use. Purchasing CBD is therefore also legal and can be easily found online or in stores. 


CBD is also completely legal in Luxembourg, which recently became the second EU country to upvote cannabis reform

Stephen Andrews