cannabis in Europe Hemp seeds are completely legal in most European countries. However, each country has its own rules and nuances when it comes to the treatment of cannabis, which makes it no easy task to keep track In this article, we aim to shed some light in this darkness.
For over 30 years, Sensi Seeds has specialised in the sale of medical cannabis seeds. We also actively campaign for the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis at various levels. We make no secret of that fact. However, as a reputable company, we act within the limits of the law everywhere and at all times.
We keep track of legislation all round the world and, when necessary, instantly adjust our business activities. Our customers can rest assured: if you can order cannabis seeds or other products from our website and we send them to your country, you can assume that it is perfectly legal.
International law takes precedence over European law
The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (SCND) is the basis for current legislation worldwide. It was agreed in 1961, with the aim of restricting the availability of certain drugs. As an international treaty, it binds over 180 states and to some extent it determines national legislation on narcotics.
Cannabis is on its list of illegal substances. However, the importation, storage and delivery of hemp seeds are not covered by the SCND. Under international law, which takes precedence over national law, hemp seeds are therefore legal.
The legal status of cannabis in Germany
Under Section 29 ff. of the German Narcotics Act, cannabis is a prohibited substance in Germany. The cultivation, trade, sale and possession of any part of the plant is punishable by law. Exceptions exist, but only for medical patients who have an appropriate prescription.
Are cannabis seeds legal? Cannabis seeds do fall under the German Narcotics Act but are only illegal if used for growing.
Germany is the only European country that prohibits the sale of cannabis seeds. However, as the principle of the free movement of goods applies throughout the EU, the shipment of cannabis seeds to Germany is permitted. Ordering cannabis seeds online is not a criminal act.
This also applies to products containing Cannabidiol (CBD). As long as the THC content does not exceed 0.2%, there is no problem. CBD may be purchased freely and legally as a dietary supplement or as an ingredient in beauty products.
What many people do not know is that the consumption of cannabis is legal in Germany. Nevertheless, it is not a good idea to consume it in public because, at the judge’s discretion, merely passing on a joint can be interpreted as possession – with all the attendant consequences.
The legal status of cannabis in France
The legislation in France is similar to that in Germany. The cultivation, trade, sale and possession of cannabis are all prohibited. Anyone who is caught can face up to a year in prison and a fine of EUR 3,750, and anyone growing cannabis for sale on the black market can expect far stiffer penalties.
Unlike in Germany, consumption is also illegal in France. Additionally, French legislation includes one aspect that does not exist in any other European country: cannabis, along with all other drugs, may not be presented in a positive light.
Hemp seeds are legal, as long as they are not used for growing. The cultivation of hemp containing up to 0.2% THC is permitted. France is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of hemp.
Although CBD products may not be sold in the country itself, those ordering them on the internet from abroad have nothing to fear.
The legal status of cannabis in the Netherlands
Amsterdam – the very name conjures up images of freedom and tolerance. The Netherlands are famous for being open-minded and pragmatic. So no wonder that cannabis-lovers can indulge their favourite passion here completely undisturbed and legally. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the true picture.
Cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands too. Sale and consumption are merely tolerated, under the so-called “tolerance policy”. Possession of cannabis is punishable by law, although the police turn a blind eye to quantities of 5 grams or less. Those found carrying more risk a prison sentence of up to two years, and a fine of up to EUR 18,500. Coffee shops can sell cannabis, but they still have to purchase their stocks on the black market.
Cultivation remains a criminal act, although growing up to 5 plants for personal use is tolerated. Important: growers may only use a maximum of two pieces of technical equipment. The Dutch police take a strict approach on this aspect, as was once again demonstrated recently in the case of Hans Kamperman.
In terms of hemp seeds and CBD, consumers have nothing to fear – they are not covered by Dutch narcotics legislation.
The legal status of cannabis in the UK
Much like the situation in Italy, there is no visible consistent approach in the UK when it comes to cannabis. Although the trend seemed to be heading towards decriminalisation around the millennium, matters look rather different now.
Possession is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in jail and an unlimited (!) fine. In the case of cultivation for commercial purposes, the law even prescribes a prison term of up to 14 years. In addition, details of the offence are kept on record indefinitely. Cultivation for personal consumption is similarly illegal, unless you have an appropriate permit.
With regard to hemp seeds, British legislation is astonishingly weak. Regardless of whether this is hemp grown for fibre, or highly potent varieties containing high levels of THC, as long as hemp seeds are not used for growing, they are legal.
The same applies to CBD products, which are accepted for medicinal purposes in the United Kingdom. We have to wait and hope that products containing THC will also be legalised soon. A bill to this effect will again be submitted to the House of Commons on 6 July 2018. Fingers crossed!
The legal status of cannabis in Spain
In early 2018, the Spanish constitutional court decided that cannabis clubs were against the law and could no longer be regulated by regional parliaments (reminder: Spain is a decentralised country). Our local expert, Martín Barriuso, has reported at length about the end of cannabis tolerance in Spain. This development is a great pity, since Spain used to be one of the few countries that took a relaxed attitude towards cannabis.
However, consumption is not prohibited – as long as it is done in private. Within your own four walls, you are permitted to grow weed for your own use.
Hemp seeds and CBD products can also be obtained legally in Spain The purchase and sale of cannabis products ready for consumption and with a THC content of over 0.2%, remains prohibited.
The legal status of cannabis in Italy
This way, that way – there is no consistent policy on cannabis in Italy. Cannabis basically remains prohibited. This applies to possession, sale and cultivation, but not to consumption. Those caught with a small quantity for personal use generally get off with a warning.
The cultivation of a single plant for personal consumption is also tolerated. However, if the public prosecutor can establish a commercial purpose – for either cultivation or sale – fines of up to EUR 75,000 or six years in prison are likely.
Hemp seeds are legal in Italy, as is cultivation equipment, which is available in numerous grow shops. The cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes has been booming since 2017. And at 0.6%, the maximum THC level is higher than in other European countries.
Lovers of CBD are well catered for in Italy. The first shop recently opened in Pescara on Italy’s Adriatic coast – quite legally of course.
The legal status of cannabis in Switzerland
At the start of the millennium, the wind of freedom was blowing through the narrow streets of Bern’s old town. In the federal capital, hemp shops were popping up everywhere. Their owners believed they had found a loophole in the law; they sold bags of cannabis as Duftseckli (potpourri), disguised as wellness products. Growland, the best-known and longest-lasting business of this kind closed its doors in 2009. What followed was a decade of repression.
However, right now Switzerland is again polishing its image as a tokers’ paradise. In no other European country is the topic of CBD as popular as here. The cultivation of hemp with a maximum of 1% THC for fibres is permitted, as is CBD in any form. These days, you can even buy weed with a high CBD content from street kiosks. Time to bring out the champagne? Not so fast!
When it comes to THC, Switzerland is far from progressive. Cultivation, sale, purchase and consumption are illegal and criminal. For this reason, in 2015, Sensi Seeds decided to stop shipping hemp seeds to Switzerland. Around that time, customs started intercepting parcels on a large scale. Dark rumours were doing the rounds about harassment by the Swiss police.
As the situation has relaxed somewhat since then, we have again resumed delivery of our discreet, unbranded packages to Switzerland again.
What about the rest of Europe? And further afield?
It would be beyond the scope of this article to review the legal status of cannabis in every European country in detail. But don’t worry: if you live in Austria, Sweden, Hungary, Poland or somewhere else, you only need to glance at our interactive map to know whether we deliver hemp seed or other products to your home. Naturally, we will only do so if it is permitted by law.
We currently do not ship hemp seed outside Europe. However, certain products are available outside Europe too.