Is CBD legal in Germany, Austria and Switzerland? As consumers, we are usually not aware of certain regulatory frames that the products we buy need to fit into. Everything from bread to CBD oil with less than 0.2% THC is legal, but CBD edibles are prohibited. Read our guide to understand the laws where to buy the best CBD.
Is CBD legal in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?
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.
At Pharmahemp we are rewarding our loyal customers with special offers and launches of new products. You can follow us on our social media and website for all updates. For any questions regarding the manufacturing process, quality control and final products, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]
Buying CBD in Germany: What You Need to Know 
Germany has a rich history of using hemp and medical marijuana. For more than three decades, the European superpower prohibited hemp, allowing its cultivation only for scientific and research purposes.
Germany reconsidered its conservative views with the increased global popularity of hemp, specifically CBD and its benefits. In 2017, the government amended its laws on narcotics and exempted hemp and CBD from the definition of dangerous substances. This change paved the way for Germany to become a leader in the European cannabis market.
Learn about Germany’s historical and current hemp laws, and view our list of approved CBD brands currently servicing the German public. We’ll also discuss what led to Germany’s rise to the top of the European cannabis market in recent years.
Let’s start with a quick overview of buying CBD in Germany.
Summary: Buying CBD in Germany
- Cultivation of hemp with less than 0.2% THC is legal
- CBD products with less than 0.2% THC are available over the counter
- You can shop for any type of CBD products (including CBD capsules) except for CBD edibles — these are prohibited under the Novel Food Regulation throughout Europe
- You can buy medical CBD via a doctor’s prescription from licensed pharmacies
- Unless intended for scientific or commercial use, CBD hemp flowers are prohibited
Best CBD Oils in Germany
Nordic Oil Full-Spectrum CBD Oil (Europe)
€0.08 – €0.09
Endoca CBD Oils
€0.08 – €0.09
Reakiro CBD Oil
€0.07 – €0.08
Hemp Bombs CBD Oil
$0.07 – $0.17
Nature’s Script CBD Oils
$0.07 – $0.17
How to Buy CBD Products in Germany Legally
Germany has a growing CBD market. Thanks to its friendly legal attitudes towards hemp and CBD, you can purchase CBD products in-store and online — except for CBD edibles and hemp flowers.
The limit for THC in hemp-derived CBD products is 0.2%.
CBD isolates are popular on the German market because they contain 0% THC — which is well below the legal limit for THC. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products are also available in Germany but make sure to check the maximum THC levels because many American CBD brands only guarantee a minimum of 0.3% — which may be over the legal limit for Germany.
It’s best to order CBD products from companies operating out of Europe. They offer the fastest shipping times and closely stick to European CBD laws.
If you live in Germany, the best brands to check out are Nordic Oil and Endoca.
A Brief History of Cannabis Laws in Germany
Cannabis history in Germany dates back to the Roman period (800 – 500 BC). Germans used hemp seeds as a staple food, and in the Middle Ages, they started using cannabis for its medicinal benefits.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, thanks to hemp fibers’ strength and moisture-resistant properties, the plant became an essential crop in Germany.
The German fleets used hemp for rope, sails, nets, uniforms, and ship flags. Shortly after its spike in popularity, hemp cultivation decreased due to a new favored textile crop — cotton. This is because hemp demanded more labor and higher costs at the time. Many textile manufacturing was replaced by cotton due to technical improvements in cotton processing.
In the 19th century, Germany introduced new materials such as sisal and jute and started importing hemp from Russia to avoid labor costs. During the World Wars, Germany’s access to cotton, jute, and sisal was blocked, and the country needed to reintroduce hemp farming — but lacked available farmland.
Germany started growing hemp again after the Second World War but fulfilled only 20% of the domestic hemp demand and had to import the rest from nearby countries like Italy.
During the 60s, hemp was grown in small quantities, and following the amendments to the Narcotics Law in 1982 in West Germany, the crop was outlawed except when used for scientific research.
After a decade of non-use, hemp became one of the most talked-about and researched crops in the 1990s — all thanks to the bestselling book The Rediscovery of the Agricultural Crop Hemp by Bröckers and Herer. However, the ban on its cultivation was still valid, and hemp was only grown for research purposes.
While most European countries legalized hemp in the 1990s after the European Union introduced its subsidies for hemp cultivation, Germany delayed the authorization and legalized the crop in 2017. The amended law on narcotics allows only EU-certified hemp varieties with less than 0.2% THC. Recreational use of marijuana is still prohibited, but patients can acquire medical cannabis via a doctor’s prescription.
What is the Difference Between Hemp and Marijuana?
Due to its similar appearance to marijuana, hemp was considered a dangerous plant for a long time. While both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants, they differ in the cannabinoid profile they produce.
Cannabis produces over 100 cannabinoids, and the most common ones are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive compound of cannabis known for producing the high associated with recreational use. Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t induce this high, and it’s mostly known for its relaxing, pain-relieving, and anti-inflammatory properties.
The primary difference between hemp and marijuana is the THC content. Hemp plants are strains of Cannabis sativa that don’t produce any more than 0.2% THC by dried weight. Marijuana plants are any Cannabis sativa plant that produces more than this 0.2% THC limit.
Is CBD & Hemp Legal in Germany?
Germany allows CBD as long as it’s derived from hemp (plants that contain less than 0.2% THC). Medical CBD with higher THC concentrations is available with a doctor’s prescription.
In 2017, the German government amended the Narcotics Law, distinguishing between cannabis for medical and non-medical use. This law includes exemptions on hemp and its derivatives, including cannabidiol.
However, Germany introduced one restriction on CBD in July 2019 — the Novel Food Regulation.
Under the European Union’s guidance, CBD is classified as a novel food due to a lack of evidence for its significant consumption before 1997. This regulation requires businesses to apply for a novel food authorization in the European Commission before selling CBD foods.
The main issue is not the authorization itself, but the time it can take to process, which can take several years. Because of this, CBD edibles are not allowed in Germany.
The rules on CBD hemp flowers are more specific, and authorities prohibit their sale over the counter because they’re unprocessed. Hemp flowers abundant in THC are only sold for scientific purposes or commercial use.
Some stores in Germany sell CBD flowers labeled “not for intoxicating purposes,” although authorities consider this illegal.