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The historical and cultural landscape in Europe has fostered distinctive views on hemp, CBD and marijuana on the continent. In this article, we want to show how hemp is being used in Europe and how the market for CBD products is rapidly expanding. There is a lot happening across Europe, but hopefully, we can give you an insight into some of the developments regarding the use of hemp and CBD in Europe.

Ho Karan is a company based in Nantes, a city in France about 240 miles West of Paris. Nantes is an ideal base as it is a city keen to support and nurture startup businesses. In addition to our Nantes base, we also have an office in Paris at Station F, the worlds biggest campus for startup companies.

European views on hemp and related products have resulted in laws and attitudes that are both negative and positive. On the one hand, CBD and related products such as green gum CBD flower are not well understood and often deemed illegal. In France, for example, where the bulk of the industrial hemp in Europe has grown it is difficult to produce, sell and consume CBD. Reasons for this will be covered later in the article.

On the other hand, industrial hemp is widely accepted by the public and legal in most countries in Europe. It is in this climate that a community of companies, activists, and individuals are working together to tackle the unfair demonization of hemp and ensure that hemp related products are available to and understood by all.



The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) states that “In the European Union, it is legal to cultivate and supply cannabis plants for hemp fiber if they have low levels of THC.”  This law applies to every member state of the European Union and so industrial hemp is grown widely across the EU. France produces by far the most industrial hemp and surprisingly Estonia is second despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe.

Despite the growing interest in hemp across Europe, there are legal obstacles that persist. There are many reasons for this, not least the fact that the European Union has evolved and grown from the European Economic Community with 6 members in 1957 to the European Union with 28 member states today. In addition, the hemp industry in Europe has been relatively small and insignificant until fairly recent times. As a result, the need for EU wide regulation on CBD has not been a priority and this has left a legal vacuum in regard to CBD.

In the absence of EU regulation, all member states have their own laws concerning the growing, production, selling and importing of products with CBD and/or THC. The majority of EU states only allow trade in CBD products with very low levels of THC, the intoxicating compound in cannabis. As CBD with THC oil for sale is considered to be narcotics and so are illegal in most European countries CBD oils are almost always produced from industrial hemp.

The differences in the legal status of CBD products make for a complex variety of regulations that do not encourage research and development. Many companies are now calling for the EU to legalize CBD and create a regulatory framework that would apply in all member states. However, despite the current unfavorable regulatory situation some companies are investigating and testing CBD related products as the potential health benefits become increasingly widely accepted. This combined with the work of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) and its members, means we can be optimistic about a positive shift in EU regulations in the near future.



In Europe, the main advocate for hemp is the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA). Formally created in 2005, after a number of years as a casual alliance, the EIHA’s mission is to encourage the expansion of the hemp industry and disseminate current thinking, information, and research in order to educate regulatory authorities and the general public.

Hundreds of national organizations, associations, companies, and individuals with involvement or an interest in the hemp industry have joined the EIHA, recognizing its significant influence in promoting a wider understanding of hemp. Its members come from all European countries and work in a wide range of hemp industries: fibers, food/animal feed, hemp shivs, pharmaceuticals, consulting and research.

Another major player is CannaTech that is widely recognized as the premier global cannabis event. Its motto, “Accelerate Cannabis Innovation,” sums up its vision and investors, brand representatives and speakers come from all around the World to show their products and talk about their innovations. This year it took place in London and we had the chance to witness evidence of the exploding European and global hemp market and were left feeling the future of hemp and CBD was looking more positive than ever.

Europe already has a healthy hemp industry and it is expanding fast thanks to the rising use of a variety of hemp-based products such as food, clothes, and hempcrete etc. In 2016, 33,000 hectares of hemp were cultivated on the continent, which equals about 81,500 acres. In the same year, the United States grew 9,650 acres.



In Europe innovation in the hemp and CBD industry is widespread. Harmony Hemp is one company leading the way in innovation and advocacy for the industry. Based in Barcelona, it sells pure CBD, vape juices and CBD oil vape pens. Their main focus is the quality of all their products and they are actively lobbying governments to ensure only safe CBD products are sold in Europe. They are determined to ensure that standards are established to guarantee that only high-quality safe products reach the market.

Harmony Hemp has been investigating the properties and uses of cannabinoids since 2008 and aims to demonstrate the benefits of CBD to the world. In particular, the company aims to explain how CBD can be used safely and effectively. It is, therefore, a trusted source of information on the subject.

Another interesting development is taking place in Slovenia where Australian pharmaceutical group MGC Pharmaceuticals has started to grow and harvest cannabis. MGC focuses its research and development on the potential benefits of CBD on the skin and as a result has introduced a cosmetic brand in Slovenia called MGC Derma. Like Harmony Hemp, MGC is another reliable source of information. It aims to educate the public about the potential benefits of CBD products in relation to skin disorders and not profit from consumers’ ignorance on the subject.

In France, HO KARAN has the same philosophy. We currently sell hemp seed oil based skin care products. One of the benefits of our products is their high concentration of antioxidants, vitamins (A, B1, B3, E), proteins, minerals, omega 3 and 6 (essential fatty acids). It is this that makes our oil, soap, shower gel, and creams excellent moisturizers with anti-inflammatory and strengthening properties (know here the best CBD oil for inflammation). Going forward HO KARAN intends to explore further the benefits on the undamaged skin of CBD and other molecules such as terpenoids.

It is clear that interest in and the use of CBD is growing rapidly in Europe. As a result, companies exploring the benefits and applications of CBD are flourishing in Europe. This thriving industry is now watching with interest the results of a recent meeting of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. At this meeting the WHO was considering the international classification of drugs, including CBD.

Protagonists from both sides of the argument were present including pharmaceutical companies, decision-makers, and lobbyists who are against cannabis. One speaker advocating the benefits of CBD was Raul Elizalde, the first CEO of a cannabis company listed in the American stock exchange: HEMPMEDS. He has a immeasurable expertise on CBD products and was supported by a number of doctors. He, with others, has carried out studies in Mexico in relation to the benefits of CBD and his up-to-date research carried considerable weight at the meeting.



It is our hope and belief, with research and knowledge regarding CBD continuing to increase, that the public is becoming more aware of the benefits of CBD. A virtuous cycle is on its way and we hope this event will accelerate it.

On the 29th of March 2017, the EIHA said in a press release: 

“Today, 100,000s of citizens already benefit from CBD, dozens of companies show double-digit growth and increasing demand.”

Hopefully, you now have a little more understanding of what is happening in Europe concerning hemp and CBD oil. The subject is so vast that CBD Oil Adviser could not consider it all, but our team of experts will be glad to answer your questions. Feel free to reach us at laure.bouguen@hokaran.fr with any questions. Take note that you can only pre-order our products on Kickstarter before the 23rd of November.


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