Germany made waves in 2017 by becoming the first major European economy to legalize medical marijuana. Fast-forward three years, and the medical marijuana business in Germany is thriving, and the German people are becoming more open to the potential benefits of Cannabis sativa than ever before.
While the European Union (EU) continues to stand by its unusual stance on CBD in food products, the CBD flower market in Germany remains relatively free and unobstructed. In this guide, learn more about the status of CBD flower in Germany, and find out whether you should smoke hemp buds in Deutschland.
Background on CBD flower in Germany
During Germany’s first full year of medical marijuana legislation, this nation imported more than 7.5 tons of dried cannabis flower. This import volume has only increased over time, making marijuana flower an increasingly widespread component of modern German culture.
Medical marijuana in Germany has become such a rousing success, in fact, that many entrepreneurs and political leaders are now pushing to make marijuana recreationally legal in this country. If Germany were to legalize recreational marijuana, it would become the first European nation to do so, paving the way for further marijuana legalization efforts across the continent.
Perhaps partially due to these remarkably progressive stances on medical and recreational marijuana, Germany is also home to a reasonably robust CBD flower market. A variety of online shops sell CBD flower in Germany and throughout the EU, and Germany is also home to a handful of brick-and-mortar retailers that sell CBD flower containing less than 0.2% THC.
We still have a long way to go, however, until cannabis and hemp are completely normalized in Germany. Despite passing its own progressive marijuana laws, the German government is largely beholden to the dictates of the EU, which maintains a reasonably strict stance on hemp and a prohibitionist attitude toward marijuana.
International investors are keen to see Germany’s burgeoning cannabis market thrive, and consumers across Germany are clamoring for access to both intoxicating marijuana and non-intoxicating hemp. Throughout the entirety of the European continent, there are few potential CBD flower markets as promising as Germany, and it’s likely that this nation’s status as a European CBD flower hub will become even more fully established over the next few years.
CBD laws in Germany
In 2019, the EU sounded what many considered to be the death knell of the European CBD industry by classifying cannabidiol as a novel food. Essentially, this classification indicates that producers of orally ingestible CBD products in EU countries must first obtain novel food food authorization.
While it’s certainly possible to certify CBD tinctures, capsules, or edibles as novel foods, this process can cost as much as €400,000 and take years to complete. Any CBD products sold without novel food authorization in the EU are technically illegal, but so far, Public Health Europe does not seem very enthusiastic about directly enforcing this position.
Consumers who possess orally ingestible CBD oil products in Germany have little to fear. A handful of raids on German CBD shops have been reported over the last two years, however, indicating that German law enforcement is taking the EU’s classification of CBD as a novel food seriously.
CBD products that are not ingested orally, however, are not considered to be novel foods in the EU. Cosmetics containing CBD, therefore, such as topicals and makeup, are admissible for retail sale in European Union countries. Since CBD flower is not orally ingested, this product category is also exempt from the EU’s designation of cannabidiol as a novel food.
Is CBD flower legal in Germany?
CBD flower is sold openly throughout Germany. While CBD flower products are most commonly found on German or EU websites, you can also buy CBD flower in many of Germany’s major cities. Despite the widespread popularity of this CBD product category, however, many CBD producers and sellers in Germany remained concerned about the legality of CBD flower, leading a prominent German hemp flower eCommerce site to ask the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) about this subject directly. Here’s what this German drug regulation agency had to say in response:
“With the Act on the Amendment of Narcotic Law and Other Regulations, which came into effect on 10.03.2017, the legislator changed the position of cannabis in Annexes I to III to section 1 Paragraph 1 of the Narcotic Law (BtMG) in Germany. Since then, the Narcotics Act has distinguished between cannabis in Annex III (use for medical purposes) and cannabis in Annex I (use for non-medical purposes). Annex I also provides for exemptions for hemp (see letters b and d under the heading cannabis).”
There’s a lot to unpack in this statement. Essentially, the BfArM is saying that the German government separates cannabis into three distinct categories: cannabis for medical use, cannabis for non-medical use, and hemp as defined by the EU’s guidelines. Therefore, CBD-rich hemp that contains less than 0.2% THC and that was cultivated in an EU country using a registered cultivar is not regulated by the Betäubungsmittelgesetz (BtMG), Germany’s narcotics law.
With this statement, the German government’s drug regulation agency has confirmed that it does not intend to classify CBD flower as a controlled drug as long as it meets the EU’s standards for industrial hemp. As a result, it can be inferred that CBD flower is legal to sell and possess in Germany. While the German government may take further regulatory action regarding CBD flower if it is prompted by the EU, it is currently the BfArM’s position that CBD-rich hemp flower is in an entirely different category than both state-sanctioned medical marijuana and black-market cannabis.
Can you get arrested for using CBD flower in Germany?
While Germany is now home to a flourishing new medical marijuana industry, THC-rich cannabis remains illegal for recreational use in this country. If you don’t have a prescription for medical marijuana in Germany, you could run afoul of the law if you’re caught with any form of cannabis.
The German government can fine you up to €25,000 and sentence you to up to five years in prison if you are caught with a controlled substance. In most cases, however, heavier sentences are handed down to drug traffickers and dealers, and Germany has relatively lenient punitive policies for drug possession.
If you’re caught with “a small amount” of cannabis in Germany, you might get arrested and have to go to court. Once in court, however, the judge may throw out the case if it’s determined that you were in possession of cannabis for personal use and that the amount you possessed was too small to sell to other people.
As is rapidly becoming the case in the United States, you might be able to hasten your acquittal by asking the court to send the cannabis you were caught within for lab testing. If a lab is able to confirm that the CBD flower you were charged for contains less than 0.2% THC, you will have proven that you did not violate any German laws.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever need to go to these extremes, however. As is the case in most areas where medical marijuana is legal, arrests and prosecutions for cannabis possession are no longer a major priority for German law enforcement. It’s simply too much of a waste of time to focus on arresting people for cannabis possession in an environment in which so many German citizens are using marijuana with the government’s authorization.
German law enforcement is also gradually becoming aware of the existence of CBD flower and this substance’s unique legal status. Therefore, most German cops now know that there’s only a one-in-three chance that instances of Cannabis sativa possession are in violation of the law, and there are plenty of other drug crimes to pursue throughout Germany.
Even though the likelihood of being arrested or prosecuted for CBD flower possession in Germany is incredibly low, it’s still a good idea to proceed with caution. Don’t smoke hemp flower flagrantly in public places, and don’t mockingly wave your CBD joint under a German cop’s nose thinking that you can’t get arrested. Instead, contain your CBD flower use to private areas, and remember that your innocuous use of a non-intoxicating substance could potentially be construed as an illegal act.
The changing face of German cannabis law
Experts and investors fully expect that Germany will become the first European country to legalize recreational marijuana. When this day comes, this nation’s stance on CBD flower will be forced to change dramatically. In almost every case, the legalization of THC-rich marijuana has paved the way toward greater cultural acceptance of CBD, and since Germany is already one of Europe’s most pro-cannabis countries, it’s only a matter of time until this nation brings CBD flower fully into the mainstream.
CBD regulation throughout Europe, however, will need to undergo a significant transformation before the full spectrum of cannabidiol products becomes accepted in Germany and beyond. The EU’s classification of CBD as a novel food poses significant hurdles to manufacturers of CBD tinctures, capsules, edibles, and other forms of orally ingestible products, and it may take some time for the EU to come up with a more allowing stance on CBD products.
Currently, CBD flower in Europe flies under the radar due to the restriction of EU CBD regulations to orally ingestible products. In time, however, this transnational entity may decide to opine on the subject of CBD-rich hemp flower, which could generate conflict between the EU and Germany’s BtMG since this drug enforcement agency has officially confirmed that CBD flower is not a controlled substance.
Regardless of any regulatory confusion that might persist, the force of capital is firmly behind the rapid expansion of the German cannabis market. While limited in scope, Germany’s medical marijuana program has been successful so far, and international investors are keen to expand on this success by bringing cannabis products to a wider segment of the German population. Hemp flower is often overlooked within the global cannabis investment community, but based on the recent surge of interest in CBD flower products in the United States, it wouldn’t be surprising if hemp became a larger part of the conversation as the German cannabis industry takes its next turn.
Should you smoke CBD flower in Germany?
As of 2020, the BfArM has officially stated that CBD-rich hemp flower is not considered to be a controlled substance in Germany as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC and is produced in accordance with the EU’s hemp regulations. In tandem with this development, the German law enforcement community has taken a significantly more lax stance toward cannabis possession enforcement in the wake of Germany’s medical marijuana law. As a result, there isn’t any serious reason you shouldn’t smoke CBD flower in Germany.
In most areas of the world, there remains a chance that a law enforcement official might mistake your hemp bud with marijuana and wrongfully fine or incarcerate you. Germany is one of the most liberal nations when it comes to hemp flower regulation, however, so as long as you use CBD flower discreetly, you shouldn’t hold back in making Deutschland your new hemp flower playground. Just exercise caution when transporting CBD flower into this country, and check for lab tests to make sure that the CBD flower you’re purchasing contains less than 0.2% THC. For more guides like these, visit the Secret Nature blog, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions.