Cannabis World-Wide: Laws Around the Globe
In our previous blog post, we took a closer look at the fascinating and convoluted history of hemp, and thus CBD products, in the United States.
But now you may be wonder, what about the rest of the world?
In this weeks blog, we take a look at how cannabis, hemp products, and CBD are regulated in various regions and countries across the globe.
A few places we'll travel to include:
- Central America
- South America
And many more! Keep scrolling for the full break-down.
Until 2018, it was fully illegal to produce, sell, import or export CBD products in Canada unless authorized for scientific or medical purposes. This changed following the passing of the Cannabis Act, which introduced new regulations that allowed for CBD products to begin entering the Canadian marketplace.
Cultivating cannabis for CBD requires a federal license, and is subject to many regulations, such as adhering to an approved list of hemp strains, and testing at below 0.3% THC.
Hemp farmers are also restricted from processing their own crop unless specifically licensed to do so.
In 2019, the Cannabis Act was ammendd to allow for edible hemp products, such as oils, seeds and protein powders as long as these products fall under 10ug of THC per gram.
All medical cannabis that tests below 1% THC has been legal in Mexico since 2017. In 2018, the Mexican supreme court ruled that prohibiting recreational cannabis was unconstitutional and as a result of this, 38 over the counter products were legalized by the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection Against Sanitary Risks.
While CBD products that fall under the legal limit remain legal, the struggle to fully legalize recreational cannabis is ongoing.
3. Central and Latin America
Cannabis legalization in the regions of Central and Latin America remains inconsistent, but continually moving on a trajectory towards full legalization.
In Panama, the passing of Bill 153 legalized medical cannabis after many years of attempts, joining in with the many other Latin American countries who have done so.
Recreational cannabis is still widely illegal, but some countries have decriminalized it, such as Brazil, Chile and Columbia.
Cannabis in any form remains illegal in most of the Caribbean, with the exception of Jamaica, which now allows for the used of cannabis for medical, spiritual or religious purposed after a nearly 38 year parliamentary struggle for legalization.
4. European Union
In the EU, cultivation of cannabis is permitted for strains that are included in the Common Catalogue of Varieties of Agricultural Plant Species, and test below 0.2% THC.
Aside from this however, legal status in each individual country still varies.
In Germany, CBD isolates (containing no THC whatsoever) can be sold in any given store, where as products that do contain some amount of THC must be prescribed by a doctor.
According to French law, only the fibers and seeds of hemp plants are legal, thus making it very difficult to extract CBD. However, CBD isolate is actually legal, but because of the restrictive laws around cultivation, it all must be imported from countries where processing the whole plant is legal.
Other countries, such as Denmark, mirror the general EU ruling and allow the cultivation and sale of CBD that tests under 0.2% THC.
European laws surrounding cannabis are anything but simple. However, industry professionals have hope that the legal frame work is overall trending towards positive reform when it comes to consumer availability.
5. United Kingdom
While CBD is legal to sell and consume in the UK, the laws surrounding it can be a bit complex to understand.
Cannabis itself has bounced around in different legal classes over the years, with some confusion over cultivation guidelines leading to one of the UK's largest hemp farms having to destroy its entire crop at one point in time.
The farming of low THC hemp strains is legal in the UK, but similarly to French laws, only the stalks, fibers and seeds can be processed. This leaves CBD companies in a somewhat grey area, as very little CBD can be extracted from these parts of the plants. Thus, CBD must be imported from other countries where it is legal to process the whole plant.
THC-dominant cannabis strains remain fully illegal to cultivate, consume or possess in the UK.
Being such a large and culturally diverse continent, laws around cannabis and CBD vary immensely based on each individual country when it comes to Asia.
In Japan, only CBD isolate is legal to sell or consume, meaning it can contain no amount of THC whatsoever. Additionally, CBD can only be derived from the stalks, seeds and fibers of the hemp plant. All CBD flower is forbidden. Outside of this, all other forms of Cannabis are illegal to cultivate, posses or consume.
South Korea allows the use of medical cannabis since 2018, making it the first country in East Asia to do so. CBD use is also permitted with prescription from a doctor. Hemp seeds are legal as food products provided the shell has been fully removed.
A few provinces in China are legally allowed to cultivate hemp that tests below 0.3% THC, though cannabis still remains classified as a "dangerous narcotic" since 1985.
In other countries, such as Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia, the law does not differentiate between CBD-dominant cannabis and THC-dominant cannabis, thus CBD remains fully illegal.
In many African countries, cannabis and all of its derivatives are illegal across the board. However, there are a few exceptions.
In 2017, Lesotho became the first African country to legalize medical cannabis, with Zimbabwe following suit in 2018.
As recently as June 2021, Morocco legalized the farming of cannabis for medical purposes, although recreational use still remains illegal.
In South Africa, farmers can obtain a special permit from the Department of Health and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority in order to cultivate cannabis for commercial use. Cultivation without a permit has also been decriminalized since the early 90's. However, possession, use or sale of cannabis is still illegal.
In addition to these, countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi have laws permitting the cultivation and sale of either cannabis for medical and research purposes, or cannabis that contains less that 0.3% THC total.
8. Australia and New Zealand
Since 2016, Australia has classified CBD as a class 4 drug, meaning it is considered a prescription medicine. In February 2021, laws passed that allow for Australian adults to buy up to 150 milligrams of CBD per day without a prescription, with the THC levels being capped at 2%. Additionally, all CBD products must be approved by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
In New Zealand, hemp may be cultivated and processed to produce foods and fiber-products, with the THC limit being 2%. CBD products are legal to use when prescribed by a doctor who is registered to practice in New Zealand. Importing CBD products of any kind remains illegal.
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