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In What Countries Is CBD Legal? (2023) 
CBD Legalities

In What Countries Is CBD Legal? (2023)

CBD has become one of the most popular wellness supplements in the world. It grew in popularity very quickly, and many countries have worked to establish laws, rules, and regulations about how CBD can be used. Some are still a little behind the times, and some countries don’t understand how CBD is different from conventional cannabis. Different levels of research and understanding have led to a wide variety of perspectives across the world. CBD is legal (at least to some extent) in many countries. A few countries have outright banned the sale and use of CBD. Some countries haven’t quite ironed out their laws yet, leaving CBD in a legal gray area. Here’s what you need to know before you buy or use CBD around the world.

How Is CBD Different From Cannabis?

The legality of CBD is usually associated with the legality of cannabis. CBD is a cannabinoid, and while cannabinoids do often come from cannabis, CBD is often an exception. The overwhelming majority of CBD products are derived from hemp, which is a special variety of very low-THC cannabis. Hemp plants are cannabis plants. They’ve just been specifically cultivated to produce less THC, which is the cannabinoid that causes psychoactive effects. By keeping THC content as low as possible, most CBD products can provide the health benefits of cannabis without the psychoactive effects of THC. In countries where cannabis is fully legal, hemp is also fully legal. In countries where cannabis is regulated or comes with purchasing restrictions, hemp is usually legal. In countries where cannabis is fully illegal, with no exceptions, hemp is often also fully illegal.

Is CBD a Drug?

CBD is commonly used more like a supplement than a drug. It’s akin to natural holistic wellness boosters like ashwagandha root, melatonin, valerian root, or lemon balm. CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive effects, and it won’t make you feel high. CBD is very different from THC. THC is the active compound in cannabis that latches onto the receptors in your brain and nervous system and makes you feel light. CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t want to latch onto anything. It swims by your receptors and gives them a brief little handshake, encouraging them to naturally get to work fulfilling their natural functions.

The Legal Status of CBD Around the World

The legal status of CBD around the world usually falls into four categories: open use (over the counter), restricted use (medical use), no use (completely banned), or undefined use (ambiguous laws). Although a country’s laws may fall under a specific category, each country will have its own minor specifications. These specifications can also change between states, regions, or territories. Before you buy or use CBD in a country where it isn’t fully banned, you should research local laws to be sure you’re compliant. CBD laws and regulations change all the time, so it’s always better to double-check.

Over-the-Counter Use

In most countries where CBD is fully legal, there are age restrictions when purchasing CBD products. Anyone who is considered to be of adult age in these countries can usually purchase as much CBD as they want without having to provide a reason or explanation for their purchase. CBD products may be kept in locked cabinets or behind counters in retail establishments. It’s often legal for people to purchase CBD products online and have them delivered to their door.

Restricted or Medical Use

Some countries recognize the therapeutic value of cannabinoids and restrict their use to medical or therapeutic settings. In some circumstances, countries with laws that restrict CBD may only provide it to qualifying patients with a valid prescription from a doctor. Some countries that restrict CBD are a little more relaxed with their rules. They use a system similar to the system the United States uses with certain cold and allergy medications. CBD may be kept behind the pharmacy counter, and you might need to provide identification or answer a few questions before you’re allowed to purchase CBD products.

Complete CBD Bans

CBD is often completely illegal in countries with very strict anti-cannabis laws. Lawmakers in these countries often significantly misunderstand the difference between CBD and THC. It’s highly unlikely that these countries will invest time or money into CBD research, which means that CBD may remain illegal.

Countries With Ambiguous Laws

CBD is still relatively new to the mainstream world. A lot of countries have yet to make any official determination relating to CBD. This can mean that CBD is technically not illegal, but it also isn’t technically legal either. Depending on how these countries choose to enforce their laws, they may decide to criminally punish people for buying, using or selling CBD. If you live in a country with ambiguous laws or if you intend to visit one, it may be best to avoid buying or bringing CBD. If CBD is a must-have for you, look deeper into local laws regarding CBD and ask a pharmacist in the area for clarification. They’re generally most likely to have the answers you need.

CBD Status in North America

The United States and Canada have well-defined laws permitting the usage of CBD. Mexico is still figuring out where they stand on the issue. At the time, they don’t seem to have any issues with people buying or using CBD. It isn’t treated as a crime, although it isn’t expressly legal. Countries that have approved over-the-counter use:
  • United States of America
  • Canada
Countries with ambiguous laws:
  • Mexico

CBD Status in Central America

Most Central American countries aren’t CBD-friendly. A few countries make medical exceptions for CBD use, but the majority of countries have outright banned CBD. Countries that have approved over-the-counter use:
  • Jamaica
Countries that have approved medicinal use:
  • Panama
  • Belize
Countries where CBD is completely banned:
  • Cuba
  • El Salvador
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Nicaragua
Countries with ambiguous laws:
  • Costa Rica

CBD Status in South America

Most of South America is very divided about CBD. Many South American countries remain open-minded about CBD, allowing its use in a medical capacity. Only two countries have relaxed CBD laws and will allow people to purchase CBD products directly from store shelves. Countries that have approved over-the-counter use:
  • Colombia
  • Uruguay
Countries that have approved medicinal use:
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
Countries where CBD is completely banned:
  • Bolivia
  • Ecuador
  • Guyana
  • Venezuela

CBD Status in Europe

CBD is legal in a significant amount of European countries. Many countries allow people to purchase CBD products over the counter. Very few European countries have outright banned CBD, although a fair amount of countries are still on the fence. Nearly a dozen European countries still have ambiguous CBD laws that may change with further research or review. Countries that have approved over-the-counter use:
  • United Kingdom
  • Bulgaria
  • Netherlands
  • Denmark
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • France
  • Germany
  • Slovenia
  • Greece
  • Sweden
Countries that have approved medical use:
  • Portugal
  • Norway
Countries where CBD is completely banned:
  • Lithuania
  • Slovakia
Countries with ambiguous laws:
  • Austria
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Latvia
  • Croatia
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Spain
  • Hungary
  • Ireland

CBD Status in Australia and New Zealand

Both Australia and New Zealand allow CBD for medical use only. It’s sold over the counter by pharmacists, and pharmacists are required to screen people before allowing them to purchase CBD. You don’t need a prescription, but you need to be able to explain a valid reason to purchase CBD.

CBD Status in Asia

Several Asian countries allow CBD for medical use. Countries like Russia and India are still deciding on a permanent CBD policy. Note that CBD laws in the territory of Hong Kong differ from CBD laws in the rest of mainland China. Countries that have approved over-the-counter use:
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
Countries that have approved medical use:
  • China
  • South Korea
  • Turkey
  • Thailand
Countries where CBD is completely banned:
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam
Countries with ambiguous laws:
  • Russia
  • India

CBD Status in Africa

Very few African countries have reported a verdict on CBD products. This could be directly related to the fact that most African countries don’t have regular access to imported CBD. If CBD is highly uncommon, there would be no pressing reason to impose rules or regulations. Countries that have approved over-the-counter use:
  • South Africa
Countries that have approved medicinal use:
  • Israel
Countries where CBD is completely banned”
  • Egypt
  • Kenya
  • Nigeria

Can You Travel With CBD?

You can travel around the United States with CBD, but you can’t travel out of the country with CBD. This may be confusing, especially if you’re traveling to a place where CBD is legal. Canada doesn’t allow CBD from outside of the country to cross the border. They also don’t allow Canadian CBD to leave the country. Places like the United Kingdom have similar policies. Although CBD itself may be legal in these places, it’s only legal according to each country’s rules and regulations. The only way to know for sure that the CBD you’re using is compliant would be to purchase it from a reputable retailer once you arrive at your destination. Attempting to travel with CBD in your luggage can cause issues at customs and with airport security. Trained security dogs can smell hemp-derived products and may identify them as traditional cannabis. A K9 unit has no way of knowing the difference between hemp and marijuana. You may be detained or even arrested for attempting to travel with a hemp-derived product. It’s not worth the risk.

Can You Bring CBD on a Plane?

TSA takes no issue with hemp-derived CBD products. They won’t forbid you from boarding any domestic flight with CBD products as long as they’re stored properly in TSA-compliant containers. TSA claims that they aren’t specifically checking for CBD products, but it’s a wise idea to prepare to answer any questions. Store your CBD products in their original packaging with any paperwork that explains what ingredients the product contains. If they have any questions, you can tell them to read the box or review the lab report.

The Bottom Line

CBD laws can vary significantly from continent to continent. They can even be completely different between neighboring countries. As the global conversation about cannabinoid wellness products and the use of industrial hemp continues, some countries may change their laws or rules regarding CBD. There’s new news every day. Always check the most recent information before you buy or use CBD products, especially if you’re visiting another country. Muscle MX ships our CBD wellness and self-care products all throughout the United States and North America. We also offer international shipping to select destinations where the law allows. Sources: What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD | FDA Cannabinoid Receptors in the Central Nervous System | Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience Canine Program | U.S. Customs and Border Protection New TSA Policy Allows Travel with Some Cannabis-Derived Products | Undark

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