Here in the Netherlands, we are allowed to simply purchase CBD oil over the counter. As it is available online and in just about every pharmacist’s, then surely it’s legal, right? Or is it…
The ambiguous stance of the Dutch authorities
According to the Dutch ministry of public health, wellbeing, and sports, CBD oil is a dietary supplement. Among the responsibilities of this ministry is the task of preventing harm to public health. If a company sells products based on bogus claims, the ministry steps in. So far, so good, you might think.
And yet, there is something fishy going on here. The reason for this is CBD’s origins, which can be traced back to the cannabis plant.
The Dutch Opiates Act
Dutch law states that certain substances are considered illegal. Weed and hash, for instance, which are sold in regular coffeeshops, are technically illegal. They are included on List II of the Opiates Act, which classifies them as ‘soft drugs’.
Then there is List I of the Opiates Act, covering all ‘hard drugs’. This particular list includes substances such as heroin and cocaine. At some point, however, the government decided that hemp oil should be included in List I as well – and this is where matters get complicated.
The problem here is that the Opiates Act defines hemp oil as follows: a concentrate from plants of the Cannabis genus (i.e., hemp), produced by extracting hemp or hashish, either diluted using oil or undiluted. Judging purely by this definition, then, CBD oil should be considered illegal; a hard drug even, since CBD is in fact derived from hemp plants (extraction) and therefore meets the criterion of the above definition.
Prosecution by the state is becoming rare
Even though CBD is technically illegal, authorities choose to refrain from enforcing the law. This makes the situation similar to the tolerance policies observed with regard to coffeeshops. Increasingly, courts decide that people using hemp oil for medical reasons should be given the benefit of doubt. https://www.vvsadvocaten.nl/2017/08/10/medicinale-hennepolie-ongemoeid/ At least in the Netherlands, we don’t need to fear being prosecuted for possession of CBD oil.
So what about other European countries?
CBD is a legal product throughout the European Union (EU). A single article in the Dutch constitution makes the Netherlands an exception in Europe when it comes to CBD products. As a consequence, much of the CBD found on Dutch store shelves is imported from hemp growing companies in Germany and Belgium.
Do keep in mind, though, that a foreign customs officer or police agent can’t be sure that the CBD bottle you are carrying does not contain any THC. You run a risk of the CBD being confiscated just to be sure. This makes CBD melt tablets a smart option when travelling abroad. A strip of tablets in your toiletry bag is a pretty common sight, allowing you to take them to countries where CBD is legal without any problems. In additions, these tablets are very easy to use, especially when you’re on the road.
And how about outside the EU?
As soon as you travel beyond the EU, matters get a lot more complicated. Some countries observe outright CBD bans, while others allow CBD use, and yet other countries are notoriously unclear about the subject.
Here’s our advice to anyone who wants to avoid all risks: if you plan to travel abroad and you want to take CBD along, be sure to consult the customs office in your destination country before you go, to find out whether CBD is legal there. You can find the contact information here: https://www.visahq.com/customs/. Ask them to send you a written statement if they claim that CBD is legal under local laws. The document will help you prove your good intentions, preventing you from running into trouble when you arrive. So there you go – enjoy your vacation!