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Hemp policy in Belgium

Cannabis policy in Belgium

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Looking at the standards of cannabis regulation in various European countries – Belgium is an example of a rather specific approach to the subject. In the case of CBD, which is a potentially legal and non-psychoactive substance, as well as THC, which exhibits psychoactive effects, Belgian law diverges from the regulations of other European Union member states. If you are planning a trip to Belgium, be sure to learn about the most important rules of Belgian law regarding CBD, THC and medical marijuana.

Belgium, as a member country of the European Union, is an interesting example of the fact that the legal status on domestic grounds does not at all have to 100% reflect EU legislation. This is especially true with regard to the approach to CBD and products made from it, such as CBD oils. At the outset, it is worth mentioning that the cultivation of fibrous hemp, which produces extracts rich in cannabidiol, is legal in Belgium after obtaining the appropriate permit. But only for commercial purposes. This means that a farmer cannot leave himself a portion of the crop for his own use.

Legality of CBD in Belgium

Extracts containing CBD are legal and purchasable in most European countries. In the case of Belgium, things are a bit different. In light of the new regulations, which partially define the use of certain hemp products, CBD products have somehow found themselves in the so-called gray zone. The idea is that CBD extracts intended for consumption as dietary supplements or food additives cannot be legally sold, purchased or manufactured there. Only products for external use, such as hemp ointments, patches, creams or cosmetics with CBD in them, are permitted in Belgium and are legal. Interestingly, another product theoretically allowed for sale is dried CBD containing less than 0.2% THC. Officially, it is not intended for consumption, so stores offering it are sure to have a “product is not intended for consumption” notice on the packaging. Otherwise it would be subject to inspection by the federal drug agency. Such a dried product can be processed on its own and made into a CBD butter or tincture, or simply smoked or vaporized, but then we are breaking the law.

We can legally buy products for external use only in Belgian pharmacies. Work is underway to introduce the possibility of buying legal CBD oil for patients in Belgian pharmacies. The oils are to be available by prescription only, so they must be prescribed by a doctor. At this point, it is unclear exactly what the process of obtaining a prescription will look like, and what conditions can be treated with the oil.

THC in Belgium

The stance on THC and its consumption is another rather peculiar case in Belgian cannabis law. While cannabis containing more than 0.2% is not legal in Belgium, possession of it was decriminalized with the 2003 law reform. Since then, citizens and visitors have been allowed to carry up to 3 grams of THC-rich dried cannabis without consequences from the authorities (in some cases you can get a fine). Trade, production and processing are still illegal and punishable by imprisonment. In addition to the liberal approach to mere possession, Belgian citizens can grow cannabis for personal use – the limit is 1 plant per adult in the household. So if there are 3 adults living in an apartment, they can grow up to 3 plants and not break the law in the process. Currently, it is estimated that most of the marijuana consumed in Belgium is home-grown, showing that decriminalization is a great way to combat the black market.

Cannabis social clubs in Belgium

In Belgium, there are associations called Cannabis Social Clubs, which bring together supporters of cannabis consumption. Some of them have been in operation for as long as 15 years. They are organizations created to protect the rights of cannabis consumers and producers, and to help establish cannabis policy on national grounds. In addition to this, it is a place to share experiences, best practices on cannabis cultivation and consumption. These clubs consist of members, adult citizens, who organize the cultivation of a limited amount of cannabis for their personal needs. This creates a closed circuit between producers and consumers, where certain requirements for health, safety, transparency and accountability are met. Typically, club members exchange varieties they have grown themselves. Cannabis production within the club is limited only to meet the needs of its members. The organization is nonprofit and is a legally registered association.

Medical marijuana in Belgium

Medical marijuana has been available for treatment in Belgium since 2015. Currently, the list of available medicines includes only a preparation called Sativex. It is a drug attributed to patients with multiple sclerosis or neurodegenerative or neurological diseases. A regulation is being drafted that will allow the use of other drugs and cannabis-based raw materials for Belgian patients.

July 1, 2023 – A ban on the sale of e-cigarettes with nicotine and CBD goes into effect

Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, a member of the center-left Vooruit party, has introduced a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes by royal decree, which allows it to go into effect quickly. The decree was adopted on July 1, 2023, and applies to smoking devices: e-cigarettes and vaporizers that contain cartridges with nicotine or CBD. The main reason is concern for the health of minors, among whom these products are often consumed. The retail ban on these products took effect in Belgium on October 1, 2023.

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