Legal cannabis is taking Europe by storm. The European cannabis industry is currently worth just shy of €500 million, but a consulting agency that is active in this field estimates that it will be worth €123 billion by 2028. So, of course, many people are wondering how to buy legal cannabis online in Europe.
Now, when people think of cannabis, they wrongly think of the herb you can use to get high. The problem is, the cannabis that gets you high is still illegal in most of Europe. Sure, you can smoke marijuana in certain parts of Europe without getting in trouble with the local law enforcement, but that’s certainly not the case in most places.
However, what most European consumers don’t know is that there already is a market for legal cannabis in Europe. Despite the fact that this market is still young, the companies serving it offer a wide range of products and most ship their merchandise across the continent.
Unlike the cannabis you can buy online in North America, the various different strains of cannabis that you can find in European online cannabis shops contain high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) and only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). As such, consuming this type of cannabis will not get you high. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be spending your money in vain.
The benefits of CBD
Cannabidiol is very popular these days. So popular, in fact, that everybody who is somebody in the health and wellness industry briefly discussed the subject in the past two years or so.
You might be wondering if this CBD hype has a solid basis or if it’s simply a marketing tool used to enhance product prices.
Well, the good news is that CBD can actually truly be beneficial for the human body. Here’s why:
1. CBD can reduce anxiety and depression
In a 2017 report presented by the World Health Organization (WHO), it was estimated that anxiety affected up to 264 million people worldwide. And, unfortunately, that figure continues to increase every year. The same report stated that depression affected up to 322 million people worldwide. Unfortunately, this figure is also rising every year.
Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions that can severely affect your quality of life. Unfortunately, prescribed anxiolytics and anti-depressants sometimes produce a lot of side effects. What’s more, some types of pharmaceutical medication prescribed for anxiety and depression can lead to addiction and substance abuse.
As a result, people started looking for alternative treatments in order to overcome their conditions.
And promising results came from one of the most unlikely sources — cannabis. Now, stoners worldwide could tell you that smoking marijuana calms your nerves, but the psychoactive effects of THC also interfere with the consumer’s ability to function normally.
However, CBD is a cannabinoid that reduces anxiety and depression without getting you high.
A study published in 2015 showed that CBD can be a potential treatment for generalised anxiety disorder. Another study, this one presented in 2010, stated that CBD can be an effective treatment for those suffering from generalised social anxiety. Furthermore, a study published in Nature magazine showed that CBD can reduce the anxiety induced by public speaking.
When it comes to depression, it seems that CBD might be just as effective. A study made on animal models showed that CBD could be a novel treatment for depression and its associated disorders.
Another study stated that CBD can be helpful for those suffering from bipolar affective disorder, a mental disorder that causes periods of abnormally elevated mood followed by periods of depression.
2. CBD can alleviate pain
Humans have used cannabis to treat pain for at least 3,000 years. In India, hemp preparations were prescribed as pain remedies before 1,000 B.C., and the Chinese physician Hoa-tho prescribed cannabis as an analgesic back in 200 A.D.
Thanks to modern technology, humanity can now research the effects of each individual cannabinoid in the cannabis plant. And recent studies show that CBD can act as an effective analgesic.
A study published in 2018 showed that cannabinoids can reduce inflammation and interact with human neurotransmitters, effectively alleviating the painful sensation. Another study, this one focusing on animal models, showed that CBD injections can reduce pain.
In addition, another study showed that oral CBD treatment can reduce nerve pain and inflammation.
3. CBD can help with arthritis
According to a study conducted by the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society (NRAS), over 2.3 million Europeans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. Their treatment costs the EU about €45 billion per year.
Animal studies show that CBD can be used as an alternative treatment method in dogs and rats, so it is most likely going to be effective in humans as well. In fact, a preliminary study showed that cannabidiol can indeed be used as an effective treatment for chronic pain. However, the study’s results are still up for revision.
4. CBD can improve sleep
When did you last sleep eight hours straight? Can you even remember? Sleep is very important for your health, but it’s also one of the most often neglected parts of our lives.
Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and affects millions of Europeans. According to a 2007 study, up to 30 percent of adults from different countries show one or more symptoms of insomnia: difficulty falling asleep, difficulty maintaining sleep, waking up too early and nonrestorative sleep or low-quality sleep. And, unfortunately, up to 90 percent of those who struggle with insomnia have an increased risk of developing other medical conditions.
Cannabidiol can help to improve sleep. To be more precise, a study published in 2019 shows that CBD can improve the quality of your sleep. As a result, you feel refreshed when you wake up, and you’re more energetic during the day.
A study presented in 2016 stated that CBD oil can help treat insomnia secondary to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In addition, a 2018 study concluded that, unlike consuming alcohol or THC, consuming CBD does not interfere with your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
5. CBD might help you quit tobacco smoking
According to a 2013 study, a lot of smokers who used CBD reduced their cigarette consumption. Now, before you get all excited and fire up a ‘cannabis light’ joint, you should know that you shouldn’t smoke CBD flowers if you want to quit smoking. That defeats the entire purpose of the exercise.
However, consuming CBD oil or CBD capsules should help reduce your tobacco consumption, and it might even help you overcome your nicotine addiction altogether.
Types of cannabis you can legally buy online in Europe
As far as cannabis is concerned, you can separate it into five main categories.
1. Industrial hemp
Industrial hemp is the most common type of cannabis. You can use this type of cannabis in a lot of industries, such as the production of textiles, paper, insulation, husbandry, food and more.
This type of cannabis is easy to find online and offline. Chances are, your local store sells hemp oil or hemp seeds.
2. Pharmaceutical cannabis
Pharmaceutical cannabis refers to products that are formulated using either natural or synthetic cannabinoids. These cannabis products usually go through extensive clinical trials and are licensed by professionals before reaching European pharmacy shelves.
Buying pharmaceutical cannabis online legally is currently impossible in Europe. Unlike North American dispensaries, European pharmacies will only sell pharmaceutical cannabis products if you present a medical prescription from a licensed doctor.
3. Medicinal cannabis
Medicinal cannabis refers to plants, plant-based or plant-derived cannabis products that are prescribed by a doctor. These cannabis products are usually prepared as plant materials (buds, flowers), oils or tinctures (cannabis oil), edibles (cannabis candy, cookies, drinks, etc.) or capsules (cannabis capsules, THC pills).
More and more European countries legalised or are in the process of legalising medicinal cannabis. Some European health insurances even cover the expenses for cannabis prescriptions. But finding a medical practitioner willing to prescribe cannabis is still difficult in Europe.
And, as far as buying medicinal cannabis online in Europe — that’s not possible at the moment.
4. Recreational cannabis
Recreational cannabis refers to any cannabis product that has a THC concentration higher than 0.2 percent and is used for non-medical purposes.
Some European countries are taking small steps towards creating a clear legislative framework concerning recreational cannabis. As of now, recreational cannabis is legal only in certain parts of Europe, where its consumption is mostly tolerated, not fully accepted.
Despite the fact that recreational cannabis is currently illegal in most of Europe, the attitude of European consumers is changing towards acceptance. The fact that medicinal cannabis can be used successfully to treat multiple maladies, alongside with the legalisation of recreational marijuana in North America, convinced Europeans that cannabis is not as harmful as they thought.
Due to this attitude change, most experts believe that EU member states will legalise recreational cannabis within five years. This prediction is supported by evidence, as states — such as Luxembourg — plan on relaxing their rules on cannabis cultivation and commercialisation.
All things considered, it’s currently illegal to purchase recreational cannabis online in Europe.
We already discussed the benefits of CBD. Cannabidiol has the advantage of being legal in most European countries, so European consumers passionate about health and wellness topics have been consuming it for some years now.
Despite the fact that CBD is considered legal in most European states, growers need licences to produce it, and some states require a doctor’s prescription for its commercialisation.
That being said, CBD food and wellness products are widely available online, although they might fall into a grey legislative area. As such, you should be certain that the products you’re about to buy from an online shop are considered legal in your home country.
It’s always recommended to conduct your own research on the legality of CBD before placing an online order.
Most of the cannabis flower you can buy online in Europe is rich in CBD (up to 26 percent or more) and poor in THC (less than 0.2 percent). As a result, this weed is technically legal in most EU member states. But receiving weed through your mail might convince your local law enforcers that you’re up to no good, so discretion is advised.
How to find a good online cannabis shop in Europe
The confusing legal status of cannabis in Europe led to a patchwork online market. Sure, there are some reputable online shops you can buy from, but there are a lot of schemers out there that would enjoy nothing more than parting you from your money.
As the public’s interest in legal cannabis continues to increase, online shops are diversifying their products and extending their shipping networks. Most reputable cannabis online shops ship their goods to every European county, and some send them across the ocean as well.
Now, finding an online cannabis store in Europe is easy. Finding a good one is more difficult.
Unlike North American cannabis stores, European ones do not have to post their products’ laboratory results. As a result, you don’t always know the ingredients that make up your favourite products.
In addition, review websites such as Weedmaps don’t always cover European manufacturers.
However, there are some European manufacturers that make their lab tests available to the public. You should check these results out before buying.
Another way of making sure that you’re buying from a reputable source is by looking up the manufacturer online. If you can’t find your seller on cannabis review websites, gather some information on your own.
Look for reviews on forums or personal blogs. Finding some information about the seller on third-party websites can indicate that the seller’s website is trustworthy.
Final thoughts on how to buy legal cannabis online in Europe
Buying legal cannabis online in Europe is more difficult than it is in North America. However, things are bound to change as more countries look into establishing clear laws regarding the cannabis trade.
For the moment, you should always make sure that you’re buying from a reputable source that has been reviewed by other people and, maybe, one or two authoritative websites active in this niche.
Keep in mind that each European country sets its own rules and regulations regarding cannabis at the moment, so you should make sure that the products you order online are legal in your home state.