9 minute read

Is CBD oil legal in Italy?

When we hear the word Italy, most of us think about the land of sun, good wine, and plenty of extraordinary food. We consider it to be a place to relax, regain your strength and health.

In recent years the western world has witnessed a growing demand for CBD related products. You have certainly come across some news about cannabis and CBD oil. A lot of these articles are highlighting the health and relaxation effects that come with the use of CBD. As a result of growing demand, plenty of people are trying to succeed in the CBD related business.

So is CBD oil legal in Italy?

The short answer is yes. Italy allows the use of CBD oil and has a competitive legal regime regarding CBD products. This is why the CBD business has been rapidly expanding in recent years.

There are plenty of opportunities to start your own CBD oriented business. As always there are a couple of things you should watch out for. For example, in order to succeed with your company, you have to carefully study the legal aspects of the country. It is crucial for you to differentiate between different terms such as marijuana, hemp, cannabis light, THC, and many others.

We all heard how confusing, slow, and complicated the Italian system can be. Regulation of CBD is no different, it has been changing rapidly in the last years on many different levels. All of this can sometimes seem like too much to follow.

With this in mind, the team of Essentia Pura is here to assist you. If you are in fact planning to start your own CBD related business, or if you are just interested to learn more about CBD in Italy please read on. You are also welcome to contact us at our email address.

In this article, we aim to answer all your questions regarding CBD oil and other products in Italy. At the beginning of the article, we will quickly review some basic facts about CBD production. Then we will focus on how Italian law regulates CBD oil, as well as where and how you can sell or buy CBD related products. We will specifically deal with the business side of things. Hopefully, this article will tackle any obstacles you face if you are setting up your CBD business in Italy.

You might be interested to know that this piece is a part of our series covering regulation of CBD in the European Union. You are welcome to read our comprehensive article covering the EU and country-specific articles dealing with the laws of Germany, Spain, and France.

Overview of CBD

First, let us clarify what CBD is.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many substances found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. The plant itself is mostly known for its recreational use. But it is still full of secrets and mysteries.

There are two distinct types of cannabis: marijuana and hemp plants. The main difference between the two is whether they contain a high level of THC or not. Marijuana has a high percentage of THC, whereas industrial hemp is usually almost without a trace of THC.

Industrial hemp is therefore usually legal. It is widely accepted throughout the world and is used in many different industries. Marijuana, on the other hand, is still considered only a drug.

Researchers are working intensively on the cannabis plant. Apparently you can find 113 different substances in the cannabis plant. CBD is, without a doubt, one of the most prominent components of the plant, right beside the famous THC - this is the part that is the main cause of you feeling "the high".

Recent discoveries have shown us that CBD products might have numerous effects on your well being. All this, of course, led to an important shift in public opinion.

In the past, the authorities treated the plant and its derivatives solely as plants with narcotic effects. Something almost exclusively bad. As we have shown above this is clearly not the case. As a result, CBD is more and more frequently used in a wide variety of products.

Nowadays scientists use an efficient process to isolate the CBD from other substances in the cannabis plant. You can learn more about this process and its benefits here.

History of cannabis and CBD products in Italy

Italy has a complex relationship with cannabis and CBD. Even though recreational cannabis and the use of CBD products are still not legal in Italy, some forms of cannabis (for example cannabis light) are allowed.

Let us quickly explain the important parts of the legal status of cannabis throughout history.


a.) Medical cannabis

As early as the 1990s cannabis was considered a "soft drug". This meant that possession and use of cannabis were subjected to softer penalties. So cannabis was not completely legal but it was also not considered as bad as certain other drugs.

Then in 2007, the government decided to make medical cannabis legal. However, these cannabis products could only be produced if you had a specific governmental permit. But even with these restrictions, some form of cannabis had been made legal in Italy.

The infamously complicated and long bureaucratic procedures that we mentioned before are playing a part in this story too. They led to the fact that no local businesses sprung up. This meant that Italy had to import all medical cannabis and CBD products. The imported products were significantly more expensive than other, domestic remedies. To fix this issue the government mandated the Italian army to produce a specific strain of medical cannabis in 2014, bringing the cost of medical cannabis down. Even with these efforts, the cost of legal medical marijuana is still high and Italians are unfortunately still turning to the black market for their supplies.

Nonetheless, you can now get a doctor' s prescription for medical cannabis and use it to treat certain types of health issues. The conditions eligible for treatment with medical marijuana include:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Chronic pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Nause

Data shows that the recreational use of cannabis in Italy is widespread. Nonetheless, it is still not legal. Possession or use of small amounts of cannabis is, however, only punishable with a fine and is not considered a criminal offense. With that said, there is more than enough space to operate your CBD business completely legally in Italy, We therefore strongly advise you to pay strict attention to the law.

b.) Industrial hemp

Hemp plants went through a similar story. Before the second world war, Italy was among the leading producers of hemp. This quickly changed and hemp cultivation was prohibited in Italy until recently. As soon as the legal restrictions were lifted fields of hemp with low THC content started popping up all across Italy. The production of hemp rose from 500 acres to 5000 acres - an extraordinary increase in production. This hemp plants, with low THC content, are also known as: "cannabis light"

The restrictions on hemp are similar to those in western states. Italy first regulated that Cannabis light should contain less than 0. 2% of THC. Later, however, Italy set a tolerance limit a bit higher: at less than 0 .6% THC. It seems that this makes cannabis light products and their derivatives completely legal in Italy.

Things got a bit more complicated in May 2019. The Supreme Court of Cassation of Italy made a ruling stating that cannabis derivatives with narcotic effects are not legal. This created a great deal of confusion among the cannabis products business community. The vague language of the court makes things confusing. It is not exactly clear if products with the range of THC between 0.2 %and 0.6% are considered narcotics or not.


The legal status of CBD derivatives

CBD products can be sold freely in Italy, but they are subject to the above-described regulation. If the oil is derived from cannabis with a high content of THC then only a pharmacy can sell it to people with a prescription. On the other hand, CBD oil made from cannabis light or hemp is legal and can be freely sold as a food additive everywhere in Italy.

There is great uncertainty due to a recent judgment of the court. So far nothing much has changed in the actual regulation of CBD oil in Italy. The ruling, however, introduced a murky area of law that needs to be urgently addressed.

Buying CBD oil in Italy

CBD oil and other products are available in Italy and can be purchased online and also in regular stores.

However, if you are thinking of setting up your CBD oil business in Italy you should still be careful and follow all regulations in Italy. Only do business with accredited dealers of CBD and cannabis products, this will lower the risk for your company.

You should take care that your supplier puts emphasis on legal compliance and only delivers you goods that can be freely sold in Italy. This means CBD oil with less than 0.6% of THC content. As stated above products with higher THC levels are only available in a licensed pharmacy with a doctor's prescription.

If you are looking for a partner to supply your CBD related shop, Essentia Pura is a Slovenian company that offers the bulk sale of CBD extracts. We take pride in ensuring strict compliance with national and EU regulations. We are a trusted wholesale partner for your CBD oriented business. As we are a European company we can, of course, assist you in Italy.

If you have any questions regarding the bulk sale of CBD oil and other products, as well as any legal questions about regulations in Italy or other EU member states feel free to contact us on our email address.

Conclusive remarks

Italy is among the first nations to legalize CBD, and it has quite a relaxed attitude toward CBD too. Selling and buying CBD is entirely legal in the country. Therefore, one is not likely to have any significant issues doing CBD business in Italy.

Moreover, the country introduced Law 79 in 2014, making cannabis a less dangerous drug. However, its recreational use is still illegal, but possession of small amounts of cannabis would only result in a fine, and not a felony.1

All this means that selling or buying CBD isolate-based products would not cause any trouble in Italy. However, if you are thinking of selling full-spectrum CBD products that contain THC, some precautions are recommended. Remember that laws regarding the maximum allowed THC concentration keep changing.2,3 

Additionally, some products containing THC, even in permitted amounts, might not be legal. Thus, consulting a legal advisor before importing THC-containing products is always a good practice.3 

It’s also good to keep in mind that though EU laws require Novel Food approval for CBD products, it may be challenging to get it into practice. EFSA has been putting all applications on hold by saying there is still a gap in safety data.4

Knowing all that, it would be safe to say that buying or selling CBD products is safe in Italy.  However, if you plan to sell products in the nation, some research would be needed. It would be good to start with CBD isolate or broad-spectrum products that are THC-free. There are no issues selling THC-free CBD products legally produced in other EU member states in Italy, but be careful when importing THC-containing products to Italy from outside the EU.