Changes in Cannabis Legislation in Europe and Internationally

Despite the well-known fact that the cannabis plant contains numerous beneficial phytocompounds with no brain-altering or narcotic properties, CBD products still face various legal hurdles internationally.

Till the early 20th century, cannabis was legal in Europe and most of the world. However, since then, most nations have introduced a blanket ban on various cannabis products, irrespective of whether they contain any narcotic/euphoric compounds. It meant that the use of cannabis for even health benefits became illegal or a highly regulated business.

Fortunately, things had started changing fast from the late 20th and early 21st century, when most nations finally accepted that CBD is altogether a different thing. THC-free CBD products, in fact, have many health benefits.

However, despite numerous changes in laws, supported by the science that CBD is safe and beneficial, many hurdles persist. Different laws in various parts of the world make things very complicated. Even worse is when the law may differ in various states in a country (like the US) or in a union (like the EU). These different approaches create issues both for CBD business owners and consumers.

But things are changing fast these days, and much good news is emerging as nations try to harmonize their legal framework related to CBD.

Take an example of the EU, where many legal CBD producers got into trouble by supplying their legally produced product to the neighboring nation. It led to the filing of various lawsuits, and finally, the EU has started changing its laws. European Court of Justice ultimately passed the judgment, in November 2020, that member states cannot prohibit sales of CBD products that were lawfully produced in another member state.

Nevertheless, there are clear signs of disagreement and hesitance in the international community in accepting the fact that CBD is not addictive and does not pose a health threat. In the year 2020, the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs took a small and vital step in the right direction by rescheduling CBD from schedule 4 to schedule 1 drug. It is still far from what was expected. Nevertheless, it will likely open the scope for broader discussion.

It is good to see that many positive reports are emerging about CBD, as it gets better accepted by society and becomes a less regulated substance. Projections show that the European market will boom in the coming years as its market will grow from 300 million-plus to above 3 billion USD by 2025. UK market is expected to grow at the fastest pace in Europe.

Similar encouraging reports are coming from Australia, which has down-scheduled low dose CBD products from schedule 4 to schedule 3. It means that the government recognizes that it has a very low potential for abuse or addiction. However, it still means that CBD can only be sold at pharmacies.

Following the footsteps of other European nations, Italy has also decided to keep CBD preparations out of the narcotic law, thus opening the door for the free sales of these products.

To sum up, there are still lots of disagreement among various nations and regulatory authorities. CBD remains a controlled substance in many parts of the world. WHO is still hesitant to ask for the removal of CBD from the scheduled drug list. Nonetheless, most nations are clearly, and slowly moving towards a free-market policy for CBD products.

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