Where is CBD/Hemp Legal in the World
Is CBD Hemp the same as Cannabis?
Cannabis Sativa is a species of plants whose flowers have varying amounts of the psychoactive chemical THC and non psychoactive CBD. Over the years, the cannabis plant has been propagated to contain more THC for inhalation and ingestion. The same has been done more recently with CBD for oils.
In Canada and the US, hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC. Whereas medical marijuana contains between 10% and 20% THC. Hemp can have any level of CBD and it is important to note that pure hemp derived CBD is only found in the flowers of the cannabis plant.
The hemp plant is an extremely useful and it is cultivated for:
- Flowers rich in CBD which have therapeutic properties. In order to be classified as hemp, the flowers must have less than 0.3% THC.
- Stalks rich in bast fibre and useful in textiles and building materials
- Seeds rich in omega-3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids. Hemp seeds do not contain any CBD or THC and can be used as dietary supplements. Hempseed oil can often be found in CBD creams.
- Roots rich in anti inflammatory friedelin which have been used therapeutically for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Hemp derived CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and reduce inflammation. However, if you are looking for help with chronic pain, or other medical conditions you might want to ask your physician about medical marijuana. There are several active ingredients and cannabinoids in CBD hemp, such as CBG (cannabigerol). Both CBD and CBG are non-psychoactive and both work on cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system.
Where can I use hemp legally in the world?
The legality of hemp is inconsistent across the globe. To make matters more confusing, industrial hemp and hemp derived CBD are regulated differently in most countries. Up until 1900, hemp was commonly cultivated for it’s fibrous stalk and used for rope, paper and textiles. In 1916 the USDA demonstrated that hemp produces four times more paper per hectare than trees.
Unfortunately, the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 began taxing all cannabis, including hemp and medical marijuana, turning many hemp farmers away from the crop. By 1970, the federal government used the Controlled Substances Act classified hemp as an illegal Schedule One drug, wiping out the majority of the cultivation in North America.
China is currently the world leader in Industrial Hemp, producing more than 70% of the global supply. Over 30 other countries produce hemp and these include: Australia, Austria, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, The United Kingdom, Ukraine.
CBD can be derived from hemp or marijuana and the legality is very different depending on the amount of THC in the final product. Many countries have lighter regulations for hemp derived products so long as it can be demonstrated that the THC concentration is 0.3% or lower.
Is hemp legal in all USA states?
The 2018 Farm Bill changed the game for CBD Hemp in the United States. The Bill removed the hemp plant, it’s seeds and derivates from the Controlled Substances Act. This monumental change legalized hemp in the Unites States opened up a massive market for hemp fiber, hemp seeds as food and for oil production, hemp derived CBD products, and especially hemp derived CBD oil.
Thanks to the work of federal agencies, hemp has become a viable agricultural commodity in the last decade. Hemp cultivation has increased every year with an estimated retail sales of CBD products at a whopping $4.7 billion in the USA in 2021.
How does the 2018 Farm Bill define hemp and what it means for FDA-regulated products?
The 2018 Farm Bill signaled a drastic change in federal hemp policy. Under this federal law, hemp is generally defined as cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% THC. This also extends to any derivatives of hemp, including hemp seeds, hemp oil, or hemp extracts must have less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.
What did not become legal in 2018 was the sale of CBD products. As of January 2021, there was only one FDA approved CBD drug on the market in the US. The FDA continues to issue warning letters to companies selling CBD products that make any kind of therapeutic claims.
Hemps legal status in Europe
The regulation and control of both industrial hemp and other cannabis products varies among European countries. If you are travelling in Europe and would like to know the legal status of different cannabis products, Daily CBD is a great resource. When looking for help with a medical condition always seek assistance from a licensed physician and ensure you hemp dare sourcing quality CBD products.
Industrial hemp with less than 0.2% THC and CBD isolate are not controlled substances in the UK. They are, however, subject to regulations to control how they are used and the laws controlling CBD vary among products. Medical marijuana, CBD and THC are available by a doctor’s prescription.
Differing slightly from North America, the EU defines hemp as a cannabis plant with THC content below 0.2%. Hemp is legal across Europe and similar to the US, hemp is used for fiber, seed oil and CBD rich flower extracts.
Eastern European countries
Europe is well known to be generally accommodating to the use of CBD and cannabis and many Eastern European countries have followed suit. Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldovia (tighter restrictions on hemp derived CBD requiring less than 0.05% THC), Romania, Poland and Russia all have laws governing safe use of hemp derived CBD so long as there is less than 0.2% THC.
Other countries, such as Albania and Slovakia, do not allow use of medical marijuana or cannabis in any forms and it is illegal to possess CBD, medical marijuana, or sell CBD products in these countries.
Rest of the world
China, Japan and Singapore have extremely strict laws about the use of medical marijuana. In Japan you can be imprisoned for 7-10 years if you are found with a cannabis plant. CBD oils are generally accepted but you will need to prove a THC level of 0.0%
India, Thailand and South Korea have legalized CBD oil, some only for medical use, and all require a low percentage of THC (between 0.2% and 0.01%)
Many countries in Africa have a long history of growing cannabis, however, it recreational cannabis is illegal in most countries and medical cannabis is begin to gain momentum. While still illegal in most countries, some, such as South Africa, are beginning to legalize medical cannabis.
Possession of all medical or recreational cannabis, including hemp derived CBD, is illegal in Russia.
Medical cannabis is legal in Lebanon. Cannabis is illegal in all other countries in the Middle East.
The Dos and Don’ts of Buying Hemp Products
Buying Hemp Oil
Hemp oil, commonly called CBD oil, is wildly available in North America. Over the past three years, a dozens of companies have introduced CBD oil products and it’s safe to say CBD is in the mainstream. Choosing a CBD oil can be confusing, so here are our top three tips to choose the right product.
- Always do your research. There is a growing body of research on the benefits of CBD and these tend to get overblown in marketing messages. Claims such as reducing insomnia and treating chronic pain are often attributed to the THC in some grey market CBD oils. Always consult your physician and double check any medical claims made on CBD oil products.
- Manage your expectations. Sure, CBD can help to take the edge of anxiety and has demonstrated anti inflammatory activity, but it will not likely replace prescribed pain, arthritis or anti-anxiety medication. Think of CBD oil as more of a daily supplement than a prescription medication. I’ve been taking CBD oil for sports related injuries and inflammation for over a decade, but on day two of a herniated disk injury, I traded my CBD oil for OTC pain relievers.
- Check how it’s made. CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the flowers of the hemp plant. There are three main processes used to extract CBD oil.
CO2 Extraction uses high pressure and temperature liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) as a solvent to coax the CBD from the hemp flower. This is a safe and gentle method and produces a high quality extract. This is what I look for in a CBD oil.
Ethanol (or other solvent) Extraction uses ethanol or other power solvents, such as hexane or butane, to dissolve and extract CBD. This is an extremely popular and widely used method of extraction. In this method, the plant material is mixed with a powerful solvent, often under high temperatures and pressures, until the cannibinoids are dissolved into the solvent. After some time, the solvent is separated from the plant material and then evaporated. Under perfect conditions, all of the solvent is dissolved leaving behind only plant oil. Ethanol is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, so if some if it is left behind, the resulting product should also be safe. I would avoid any CBD oils made with hexane or butane.
Oil Extraction uses a plant based oil, such as hempseed, olive, or coconut oil to extract the cannabinoids from the hemp flower. This is a very safe method for extraction but not nearly as efficient as ethanol or CO2 extraction. This is the method that I use at home to extract CBD from my plants, but only because I don’t have a big enough house for a supercritical CO2 extraction system.
Buying Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a complete vegan protein and a nutritious part of a healthy diet. Remember, CBD comes from the flower of the hemp plant, not the seeds, and you will not find either CBD or THC in hemp seeds. What you will find is fiber, protein, and healthy omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids. Hemp seeds are also anti inflammatory and packed with healthy minerals and vitamins. Ounce for ounce, hemp seeds have more protein than roasted chicken breast or salmon and they are much higher in potassium, calcium and magnesium.
The legal age to buy hemp derived CBD products varies from country to country. Here is a rundown of a few:
- Canada – 19 years in most provinces except
- Alberta (18) and Quebec (21)
- USA – 18 or 21 years old depending on the
- UK – 18 years or older
- Mexico – 18 years or older
- France – 18 years or older
- Spain – 21 years or older
- Australia + New Zealand – 18 years or older
Can hemp products become marijuana?
Technically speaking, hemp products contain less than 0.3% THC and marijuana products contain more than 0.3% THC so NO, hemp products can not become marijuana, but there is a grey area. There is a sizable grey market for cannabis products in most countries where cannabis is legal. In Canada, spotty enforcement of cannabis laws has made it easy for non-regulated CBD products to pop up all over the country.
REMEMBER – if you are buying your CBD oil from anything other than a provincially regulated cannabis dispensary, you are buying an illegal product.
The result of this proliferation of illicit CBD oils is that you really don’t know what is in the oil or how it’s made. It is very likely that there are significantly higher amounts of THC in grey market CBD oil. So, while a regulated, quality checked and correctly labelled CBD oil bought in a licensed dispensary in Canada will not become marijuana, it is very likely that your grey market CBD oil has enough THC to be considered a marijuana product.