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Delta-8 In Europe: Will the Trend Spread from West to East?

Written by Robert Hammell

While generally holding more progressive stances on healthcare, labor rights, and prison reform than the United States, Cannabis legalization is one category that lags behind. The European Union, while maintaining economic ties, is not a uniform block though, and national governments are free to implement their own laws. This makes the changing landscape of cannabis legalization complicated, especially when you add the variable of hemp derived Delta-8 THC.

 

Western Europe vs. Eastern Europe

Currently, Malta is the only country in Europe that has fully legalized recreational consumption of cannabis, but Germany is expected to do so in the short future. [1],[2] Many other Western European countries have also adopted a decriminalization stance, including Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands. In Eastern Europe, medical cannabis is permitted in Poland, Romania and Greece, with the Czech Republic permitting not only medical cannabis but also decriminalized possession for recreational use.

 

Delta-8 Legality Status

Owing to the fact that Delta-8 is hemp-derived, its European classification is as a “novel food” and not as a narcotic. [3] Because of this, Delta-8 products are legal throughout the European Union, subject to pre-approval by the European Commission. This means that Delta-8 products are legal and regulated within the European Union, and are available for purchase in a variety of stores depending on which country you are in.

 

Going Forward

While Delta-8 products are legal now in Europe, its status is far from certain. In November 2020, The European Court of Justice confirmed CBD as a Novel Food, shooting down a challenge that Delta-8 products should be re-classified as narcotics.[4] As well, the ubiquity of cannabis, be them Delta-8 or Delta-9, are far less common in Eastern Europe as they are in Western Europe. Currently, there are 14 countries in Europe that have decided cannabis possession of any kind will not lead to incarceration, compared to 17 countries where incarceration is still possible.[5] Cannabis legalization remains a shifting target, and it may remain that way until Europe develops a more concrete plan.

 

References:

[1] Maltese Ministry for Equality. (2021) PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR EQUALITY, RESEARCH AND INNOVATION New law on the responsible use of cannabis enters into force [Press release]. https://www.gov.mt/en/Government/DOI/Press%20Releases/Pages/2021/December/18/pr212248en.aspx

 

[2] Koall, C. (2022) Germany set to legalise cannabis “soon”, says minister. The Local Germany. https://www.thelocal.de/20220506/germany-set-to-legalise-cannabis-soon-says-minister/

 

[3] United States Departement of Agriculture. (2020) The Status of Hemp Plant Extracts and Cannabinoids in the European Union (No. E42020-0092). https://apps.fas.usda.gov/newgainapi/api/Report/DownloadReportByFileName?fileName=The%20Status%20of%20Hemp%20Plant%20Extracts%20and%20Cannabinoids%20in%20the%20Eu

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[4] Court of Justice of the European Union. (2020) A Member State may not prohibit the marketing of cannabidiol (CBD) lawfully produced in another Member State when it is extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant in its entirety and not solely from its fibre and seeds. https://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2020-11/cp200141en.pdf

 

[5] European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (n.d.). Cannabis Policy: Status and Recent Developments. Emcdda.Europa.Eu. (2022) https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/publications/topic-overviews/cannabis-policy/html_en

 

Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/amsterdam-coffee-shop-drugs-marijuana-1818673/

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Robert Hammell

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