Disclaimer: A lot of time and care has been taken checking that the information in this article is correct, but the laws surrounding CBD are uncertain in many countries, and they change frequently. The information was correct at date of publishing, but please check with the embassy of the country you are visiting before travelling.
The question “Is CBD legal in my country?” crops up again and again. And it’s not surprising that there is often confusion surrounding the correct answer to this question.
The laws regarding the legality of CBD in countries around the world are hazy at best. In fact, most countries governing bodies are themselves unsure whether CBD is legal or not. The truth is, CBD is still a relatively new product and regulations surrounding it have not yet caught up.
So where does this leave residents in countries around the world wishing to try CBD?, or maybe more importantly, how do these rules, or lack of them, affect someone wishing to travel with their trusted CBD oil?
Although definitive laws regarding CBD are scarce, it is possible to put together a list which can act as a guide. For the purposes of this article I will be separating countries into the following categories:
- Places where CBD is either legal or tolerated.
- Countries where CBD is most definitely illegal.
- And countries where it is illegal to enter with CBD, irrespective of whether CBD is legal in that country.
Where is CBD legal or tolerated.
Although the regulations surrounding CBD are vague, or at times non existence, there are a number of countries where CBD is either legal or tolerated. This means that you should be safe travelling around these places with your CBD oil. Although CBD is either legal or tolerated in the majority of EU countries, this is not the case with all of them, so please check before travelling.
The following is a list of countries where CBD is either legal or tolerated. Please note this is not a complete list and is only meant as a guide.
Countries where CBD is either legal or tolerated.
UK, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hong Kong (but only if zero THC) Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain (please see edit at the bottom of the article), Sweden, Switzerland.
Mostly tolerated but not advised.
Although CBD has historically been tolerated in the following countries, due to recent incidents linked to CBD products, it is not advised to travel to these countries carrying CBD: Italy, Belgium, Norway.
Where is CBD illegal?
We can also say for certain that there are countries where cannabis-based products, including CBD, are most definitely illegal. For example, in most Muslim majority countries, where Islam is the dominant religion, cannabis-derived products are illegal and the penalties surrounding cannabis related offences can be severe.
It is therefore vital that you educate yourself as best you can before travelling. Here are a few places where CBD is illegal. Again, this is not a not a complete list and is only meant as a guide.
Countries where CBD is illegal.
Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Bahamas, Bahrain, China, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Lithuania, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey.
Countries where it’s Illegal to import CBD.
There are other places, like Australia and New Zealand, where the import laws are so strict, CBD would not be allowed to enter the country.
And then there’s the USA, probably the most confusing place for CBD legality. CBD is consumed in high numbers across the States so you would be forgiven for thinking CBD is legal there across the board.
But although many states have passed laws to legalise CBD and many others “tolerate” its use, CBD remains illegal at federal level. Therefore it is illegal to enter the country carrying CBD products, irrespective of the level of THC contained within them.
If you are travelling to the US, check the legal status and availability of CBD in the state you are visiting. There are still a few states where CBD products are illegal, these states are Alabama (illegal unless you have a valid prescription) Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska and South Dakota. But this situation is changing daily so please check before you travel.
Edit: It was hoped that the Farm Bill 2018 would legalise hemp-derived CBD products in the US. Sadly this hasn’t happened. A restriction was put into the bill meaning CBD has been excluded and therefore still remains schedule 1 – illegal at federal level. The only CBD product that has been moved to schedule 5 is Epidiolex, which is regulated as a pharmaceutical by The FDA.
There are plenty of choices for buying CBD in most states. So do your research and consider buying CBD once you are out there.
Countries where CBD is Illegal unless you hold a valid prescription.
There are also a few places where CBD is legal on prescription, but it still remains a controlled substance. This would make it illegal to travel to that country carrying your CBD oil. This is not the same as “legal” and unless you have a valid prescription from within the relevant country, then you are breaking the law. In the following countries CBD is only legal on prescription:
Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Malta, New Zealand.
Tips for travelling with CBD.
Even if it’s legal to take CBD into the country you are visiting, there is still a chance you will be stopped passing through customs. The source of the CBD product you take with you is important. Legal CBD products comply with laws regarding the levels of controlled substances like THC. You must check this with your supplier before travelling.
If you have checked that it is legal to take CBD into the country you are travelling to, then you are doing nothing wrong. But to protect yourself please take the following steps :
- Only buy from a reputable supplier. THC is still controlled or illegal in most countries so its important the CBD products you travel with only contain legal amounts of THC. If you don’t know your source or don’t trust the information given to you about the product, please don’t risk travelling with it.
- Transport all CBD products in their original packaging.
- Print off a copy of the lab report for any CBD products you are travelling with and keep it with your CBD.
- To be 100% safe, please contact the embassies, the airlines, and/or customs both ends of your trip to find out if the CBD product you wish to travel with will be legal to take in and out of the country.
- Don’t forget to check all the countries you are visiting on your trip, including any stopovers or connections for long haul flights.
- Or alternatively, rather than travel with your CBD oil, you could arrange for an order to be delivered to you at the place you are staying while on holiday. You may want to alert the establishment that you are expecting a delivery so they can hold it for you.
- Please note, CBD and other hemp-based products are not allowed on most international cruises. This is not just due to the number of countries visited and territories that are passed through, but also because of international maritime laws.
The research I have carried out for this article highlights a desperate need for definitive laws and guidelines with regards to the legal status of CBD.
Ultimately, the topic of CBD legality is a complex, ever-changing landscape riddled by false assumptions, outdated rules, and unequal enforcement of the law. The legal status of CBD is complex and constantly changing as more countries accept its safety and efficacy.
For the best possible answer, check with your local government food or drug-regulating agency, or the embassy of the country you are visiting.
If you would like to find out more about CBD, or you have any specific questions you need answering, please head over to my Facebook page CBD Resource Centre
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EDIT: The situation with regards to the legal sale of CBD products in Spain appears to be under scrutiny at the moment. It seems the Spanish government may be reclassifying all CBD “food” products as “Novel Foods” rather than just CBD isolate based ones, and they have sent letters to many CBD distributors within the country. Although there has not yet been an official statement from the Spanish government. This situation is uncertain at the moment and just goes to show the rapidly changing face of CBD legality around the world.