• Netherlands

    CBD Friendliness

    Completely Legal

  • Table of Contents

The Netherlands has a reputation as an extremely pro-cannabis country, which is a myth — the Netherlands didn’t want to anger other neighboring countries by legalizing cannabis or disappoint its citizens by banning it.

What Holland did was set a common ground for everyone — if you possess cannabis for personal use, you won’t be prosecuted, but you can’t grow or produce it without the right licenses.

Where does this put CBD laws?

You may think that if the government tolerates marijuana in coffee shops, then CBD would be treated in the friendliest possible way — well, not really.

As odd as it may sound, CBD falls under the Opium Act as a derivative of hemp, and its production is prohibited. However, the cannabinoid is not explicitly banned.

You can purchase it legally, but you’ll have to abide by the law. Read this guide to understand the legal CBD frame in the Netherlands, where you can buy it, and how to recognize high-quality products when shopping for CBD.

Summary: Buying CBD in the Netherlands

  1. Cannabis for personal use is decriminalized in the Netherlands
  2. Recreational use of marijuana is tolerated and available in coffee shops since 1976
  3. Growing hemp with less than 0.2% THC is legal in the Netherlands since 1999 — but only for fiber and seeds
  4. Hemp-derived CBD is a subject of the Opium Act — hemp is on the List II of soft drugs — but it’s tolerated
  5. CBD products with 0.05% THC are legal over the counter
  6. As of July 2019, CBD vape oil is banned
  7. Processing hemp for CBD is prohibited in the Netherlands under the Opium Act

Best CBD Oil in the Netherlands:

Number Product Total CBD Potency Cost per mg CBD Link

1

Nordic Oil Full-Spectrum CBD Oil (Europe)

500 – 2000 mg

50 – 200 mg/mL

€0.08 – €0.09

2

Hempura Full-Spectrum Original Extract

250 – 1000 mg

25 – 100 mg/mL

£0.06 – £0.08

3

Formula Swiss CBD Oil

300 – 2500 mg

30 – 250 mg/mL

€0.06 – €0.08

4

Amma Life CBD Oil

400 – 2500 mg

40 – 250 mg/mL

£0.05 – £0.07

5

Bluebird Botanicals Hemp Extract Oil

83.3 – 2000 mg

8.33 mg/mL

$0.07 – $0.14

6

Endoca CBD Oils

300 – 1500 mg

30 – 150 mg/mL

€0.08 – €0.09

A Brief History of Cannabis Laws in the Netherlands

The oldest recorded use of cannabis in the Netherlands dates back to the Neolithic period (over 2200 BC). During the medieval ages, Europeans (including the Dutch) used hemp for textiles, shoes, ropes, ship sails, and paper, and they also started discovering and recording the plant’s medicinal properties.

The use of hemp in the Netherlands reached its peak during the Dutch Golden Age (17th century) when the country became a world leader in science, trade, military conquests, and art.

The Dutch were great seafarers, and they had prospering colonies in Africa, Asia, and South America. The Dutch naval units needed tons of hemp for their maritime and trade activities, making hemp one of the most important crops of the 17th century.

Another important use of hemp was for canvas and cloth used by famous painters, including Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Hals.

In the 19th century, the Dutch started using cannabis as a medicine.

At the end of the 19th century, Dutch pharmacists would sell extracts of cannabis. The medicine was then known as Extractum Cannabis Indicae and was used for treating asthma, seizures, cramps, sleep disorders, and migraines.

Although cannabis had a founding role in the prosperity of the Netherlands, the country banned the plant for diplomatic reasons. Being a member of the League of Nations, the Netherlands had to sign the International Opium Convention (1919), which controlled the import and export of cannabis.

During the 20th century, the Netherlands changed its Opium Act several times, shifting from prohibitive to tolerant cannabis laws.

Today, recreational use of cannabis is decriminalized, and hemp cultivation is permitted only under certain conditions.

The Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but they vary in one important way — THC content. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC is one of the many cannabinoids found in cannabis — mainly known for its psychoactive properties.

It’s essential to make a distinction between hemp and marijuana — their treatment as the same plant has caused many troubles throughout history. Some countries in the world still consider hemp in the same classification as marijuana.

1. Marijuana

Marijuana is a term used to describe Cannabis sativa plants with high THC concentrations. Most European countries treat any cannabis plant as marijuana if its THC content exceeds 0.2% (this limit can vary from one country or region to another).

Marijuana is mostly used for recreational purposes due to its high THC content (30%). Some countries have medical cannabis programs that allow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

2. Hemp

Hemp is a term used to describe Cannabis sativa plants with low concentrations of THC. They’re primarily grown for their fiber and seeds for various textiles, materials, cordage, and food. More recently hemp plants have become popular as a nutritional supplement for their low THC content, and relatively high CBD concentration.

Hemp is non-psychoactive because it contains only small traces of THC.

The Opium Act restricts hemp, its extracts, and cannabinoids (THC and its isomers), but it doesn’t explicitly mention CBD. In the Netherlands, CBD products are tolerated and available over the counter if their THC concentration doesn’t exceed 0.05%.

What is The Opium Act?

In 1919, the Netherlands introduced its first Opium Law (List I of the Opium Law), regulating highly addictive drugs. The law was amended in 1928 with the addition of new drugs to List I, and a new List II.

The List I drugs of the Opium law include:

  1. Hemp oil (concentrate of plants from the Cannabis species (hemp) obtained by extraction of hemp or hashish, whether or not mixed with oil)
  2. THC
  3. The isomers of THC (CBD is a THC isomer)

List II drugs of the Opium law include:

  1. Hashish
  2. Hemp (all parts of the plant from the Cannabis species (hemp), of which the resin has not been extracted, except the seeds)

How are Hemp and CBD Regulated in the Netherlands?

The cultivation of industrial hemp with less than 0.2% became legal in the Netherlands in 1999 after the European Union (EU) encouraged member states to grow hemp by giving them subsidies.

Farmers are allowed to grow and process EU-certified hemp varieties for fiber and seeds but aren’t permitted to process it for CBD due to the ban on hemp extractions.

CBD made from domestically grown hemp is legal only if the hemp is processed abroad and then sold as a final product back in the Netherlands.

Despite the prohibitionist Opium Law on hemp and hemp-derived oils, CBD is tolerated in the Netherlands and treated as a legal product. If you want to buy CBD, there are three rules by which you should abide:

  1. Your CBD must not contain more than 0.05% THC
  2. The CBD product you’re buying shouldn’t contain any health claims
  3. You shouldn’t consume more than 160 mg CBD per day

The Novel Food Regulation & CBD Laws

Under the EU Novel Food Regulation, any food that was not consumed in significant amounts prior to May 1997 is considered a novel food. CBD is classified as a novel food and requires an EU authorization to be placed on the market.

The regulation is non-binding but applicable since January 2018, meaning that member-states of the EU aren’t obliged to enforce it but can implement it in their national law. Several European countries decided to apply the regulation and ordered retailers to stop selling CBD foods.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety (NVWA) hasn’t made any such changes yet. Still, the Ministry of Health said that they’re working together with the food authority on further decisions around CBD regulations.

Currently, you can legally buy CBD foods and food supplements with 0.05% THC.

Coffee Shops Selling Cannabis

During the 70s, the booming cannabis culture in the Netherlands among young people caused another change in the law. The government amended the Opium Act in 1976 to regulate the sale of hard and soft drugs (cannabis).

The law which gave cannabis enthusiasts the green light progressed in 1980 when the Dutch government said that it wouldn’t prosecute cannabis and hashish offenses (unless a person is carrying or selling hard drugs, or possesses more cannabis than permitted).

The amended law led to the opening of the famous coffee shops where you can buy cannabis. The popularity of the shops exploded during the 90s, and the government brought new regulations on how the shops can operate:

  • No advertising
  • No hard drugs
  • No entrance allowed for people under the age of 18
  • A person cannot buy more than 5 grams of cannabis per day
  • The coffee shop mustn’t have more than 500 grams of cannabis in stock at any time
  • Entrance is prohibited for non-residents of the Netherlands (since 2013)

CBD in coffee shops is a frequent topic because it could be sold under the definition of soft drugs even if its THC level is higher than 0.05%.

How to Buy CBD Products in the Netherlands Legally

The tolerant cannabis laws in the Netherlands are a double-edged sword — While it’s incredible to have the privilege to buy various CBD products over the counter, it’s also tricky because you can bump into products of questionable quality.

Whether you’re buying in-store or online, it’s essential to know what you’re consuming. Let’s see some pros and cons of both types of shopping and read through some useful tips on how to find high-quality CBD.

Buying CBD Online in the Netherlands

Most of us enjoy shopping online. Unlike in-store shopping, you don’t have to spend hours to get to the store. On the contrary, you can shop from the comfort of your home at any time. Online stores have a wide range of CBD products and include detailed and descriptive information about each. Almost every online store has its review section where you can read customers’ comments and experiences.

When you buy CBD online, you can’t take your product immediately. However, most retailers will ship the product to your door, and you’ll have it in a few days.

Some companies don’t ship worldwide, so you might need to use a mail forwarding service (more information on how this works below).

We’ve emphasized that the THC limit in CBD products shouldn’t be higher than 0.05%, so make sure you don’t order a product that exceeds the THC limit. Another important reminder — do not buy CBD from companies making exaggerated health claims. If you import a CBD product that is not allowed in the Netherlands, it could be seized by customs.

Pros and Cons of Buying CBD Online in the Netherlands

Pros Cons
  • You can shop from the comfort of your home at any time
  • There’s a very wide range of products available
  • You can find detailed information about each product to research before you buy
  • You can read product reviews by real customers
  • You’ll get your product shipped to your doorstep directly
  • You might need to use a mail forwarding company if the brand doesn’t ship to your country
  • Your product could be seized at the border if not approved  

Buying CBD In-Store in the Netherlands

As abundant as it is, the Dutch market lives in a vague legal framework. Most brands are responsible and follow the rules of good manufacturing standards, but some businesses that can’t guarantee product safety  — avoid buying CBD from them.

You can purchase CBD in hundreds of local shops — health food stores, vitamin and supplements stores, specialized CBD shops, and health and beauty stores.

Stores in the Netherlands are well stocked and modern, and retailers know how to offer excellent service.

When you’re shopping for CBD in-store, you’ll find hundreds of top-notch CBD products. If you’re not sure which one to buy, you can ask for recommendations. Staff at the stores are usually specialized in their field of work and have a wealth of product knowledge.

Probably the best thing about shopping in-store is that you have the product immediately, and you can examine it before you spend your cash on it.

While in-store shopping can be fun and convenient, it also has its drawbacks.

A physical store comes with personalized service, but this means there are more expenses for the business owner and higher prices. When you buy in-store, you’re limited to opening hours, and you can’t buy from the comfort of your home.

Pros and Cons of Buying CBD In-Store in the Netherlands

Pros Cons
  • You can ask for recommendations and tips from staff
  • You can physically examine the product before you buy it
  • You can have your product on the same day
  • More expensive than online shopping
  • Stores have fixed working hoursYou can’t shop from homeIt’s time-consuming
  • The selection is much more limited than online  

Tips for Buying High-Quality CBD in the Netherlands

Before you purchase any CBD product, you should get acquainted with the standards that define CBD quality.

Here are a few tips that’ll help you avoid harmful or illegal products.

  1. Check for third-party testing — if your product doesn’t come with a Certificate of Analysis, ask your retailer to provide you with one. The certificate proves the oil has been tested for harmful contaminants like heavy metals or pesticides.
  2. Always check the labeling — if the package has unrealistic health claims or lacks detailed information, the CBD is probably unsafe. Avoid spending your money on such products.
  3. Buy from reputable brands — most new businesses wouldn’t risk selling you a low-quality CBD. Read our reviews before buying from a CBD brand you’re unfamiliar with.
  4. Don’t buy CBD that violates local regulation — the Netherlands has tolerating laws, but that doesn’t mean that you can import an illegal product. Always make sure the THC content is below 0.05%, and that the product was made from hemp, rather than marijuana plants.

How Mail Forwarding Works

You can use a mail forwarding service to purchase CBD from brands that don’t ship to your country. Mail forwarding is easy to use with only two steps.

1. Register an Account

Sign up for an account with the mail forwarding company, and you’ll be provided with a local address. The new address will serve you as a delivery destination for orders that you make in a foreign country.

Depending on where you want to shop, you can get an address in Europe or the US. If you choose to buy from an American brand, we recommend Shipito’s mail forwarding service. You can also use Skypax as an alternative.

2. Place your CBD Order

Order your CBD product from the company you chose, and enter the local address you were provided with as your delivery address. When the package arrives at the local address, the staff from the mail forwarding company will change the stamps and direct the mail to your home address.

When you’re shopping for CBD in Europe, we recommend Skypax, which provides you with a UK address.

If you need help placing order, you can ask the mail forwarding company for concierge service and they’ll place the order for you.

Here are Skypax’s rates for mail forwarding and concierge service:

Mail Forwarding Rates

Tier of Service Sign up Fee Annual Fee Average Shipping Fee
Standard Membership (If you only need the service every once in a while) £12 setup   ($15 USD) None £30   ($36 USD)
Premium membership (If you order CBD regularly and want protection on your packages) £0 £90   ($110 USD) £30   ($36 USD)

CBD Brands That Operate in the Netherlands

Top CBD Companies for the Netherlands

Nordic Oil

4.67 / 5

Hemplucid

4.5 / 5

Formula Swiss

4.33 / 5

Amma Life

3.83 / 5

Bluebird Botanicals

4.83 / 5

Canna-Pet

4.67 / 5

Cannuka

2.17 / 5

CBD BioCare

3.83 / 5

Final Notes on Buying CBD in the Netherlands

The Dutch high-tolerance towards cannabis and its products makes it easy for citizens of the Netherlands to get their hands on CBD products — as long as it’s below 0.05% THC.

There are some restrictions on CBD and its THC content, but don’t let that stop you from indulging in various CBD products. Whether you need a food supplement rich in CBD or you’re looking for nourishing CBD cosmetics for healthy-looking skin, you can choose from thousands of products in-store and online.

As long as you don’t purchase and import CBD with more than 0.05% THC, you have nothing to worry about.

Don’t forget — the quality and safety of your CBD product are as crucial as its legality. While you don’t have to be a subject-matter expert, it’s good to know your brand and product before you make a purchase.

NOTE: CBD vape oil is banned in the Netherlands, so refrain from buying it.

Enjoy your shopping!

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