As consumers, we are usually not aware of certain regulatory frames that the products we buy need to fit into. Everything from bread to nail-polish remover, and to that new smartphone we wanted since it was introduced to market, need to comply with certain regulations. We only start to pay attention when regulations are not straightforward, or when a certain type of a product is not available in the shops in our country – but is available just across the border.
The story is similar when it comes to cannabis and CBD products. We start to realize that some differences are present from country to country, when CBD products cannot be found in one country, while in another they are on every corner. In some countries we can even find “coffee shops” where cannabis can be smoked freely. Such an example is Amsterdam.
So, let’s take a look at the legal situation of CBD in German-speaking countries like Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Is CBD legal in Germany and Austria?
Since Germany and Austria are members of the European Union, similar rules apply for both of them. The legal status of CBD products in the EU was already discussed in one of the previous blogs. All the regulations that apply to the EU are automatically obligatory for its Member States. There are just a few minor differences based on domestic laws in each country.
The answer to the question “Is CBD legal in Germany and Austria?” is therefore “YES”. We just need to pay attention to what type of product we would like to buy. In the EU, so in Austria and Germany as well, so-called “Novel food regulation” applies, which only allows the sales of foodstuffs containing CBD under certain special circumstances. CBD-infused cosmetics are legal in Germany and Austria; we just need to pay attention to the source of CBD. It is best if we check in the CosIng database to see whether our source of CBD comes with any restrictions.
THC level in Germany and Austria
When it comes to THC, the general limit for EU countries is 0.2 %. Germany is also applying this limit. Austria, on the other hand, decided to put this limit a little higher, to 0.3 %. However, this applies to hemp plants.
Legal CBD status in Switzerland
Since Switzerland is not an EU member, it does not need to follow EU regulations. The Swiss authorities took a step further when it comes to the legislation about cannabis and CBD, and are far more liberal than most the other European countries.
THC level in Switzerland
In most European countries a THC level of 0.2 % is accepted to distinguish hemp from marijuana. According to Swiss law, this THC level is 1 %. It allows farmers to grow hemp longer, which also results in a higher CBD content in the plant.
Is CBD legal in Switzerland?
CBD products are completely legal in Switzerland. CBD products are freely sold there and can be bought anywhere you can buy tobacco products. The restrictions on buying CBD products are similar to those that apply to alcohol and tobacco products. This means:
- the legal age to buy CBD products applies; you must be 18 years old
- it is forbidden to label and/or advertise CBD products as medicines and to claim their health effects
- the Swiss Authorities advise people not to drive after consuming CBD products.
If in the EU there are only certain types of CBD products available in stores; in Switzerland this is not the case. You can find basically any CBD product there, from CBD oils, pastes, foodstuffs, cosmetics and flowers for smoking (as long as they contain < 1% of THC).
Since Germany and Austria are members of the EU, we would expect that the same rules apply to both countries. But we see this is not always the case. Austria, for example, adopted a different legal THC level than the rest of the EU. Switzerland, on the other hand, follows its own, far more liberal, rules and is therefore different to the EU countries when it comes to CBD. Basically, what we learned from this blog is that CBD is legal in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, just that only some of the rules of course apply in all three countries, like they do for any product on any market.
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