Austria: Let Them Eat Space Cake

As of tomorrow, the traditional Austrian bakery Aida, which is known for its staff dressed in baby pink, will sell brownies containing CBD. The price will be EUR 4.20 – an inside joke, since "four-twenty" is code for the consumption of cannabis. The fact that an old-school, stuffy bakery like Aida is now jumping on the cannabis bandwagon is a clear sign that CBD products have arrived in the mainstream. In fact, there is a growing interest in CBD-containing products made from hemp throughout Europe.

But isn't cannabis consumption forbidden in Austria? On closer inspection, the Austrian legal situation is quite complex and should be examined in detail.

Cannabis: science and law

For a better understanding of the topic, it must be explained that cannabis contains various so-called "cannabinoids". The two best-known of these substances are Cannabidiol ("CBD") and Tetrahydrocannabinol ("THC"). The latter is psychoactive and responsible for the "high" experienced when using conventional (illegal) cannabis. Pure CBD, on the other hand, does not cause a state of intoxication. What makes the substance interesting is its alleged analgesic, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effect. Yet, many of the effects attributed to Cannabidiol have not yet been scientifically confirmed, as the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety Ltd ("AGES") points out. In short, the medical effect of CBD is not scientifically proven, but the substance is also unsuitable as a drug.

Its characteristics also explain why the Austrian legislator does not classify CBD, unlike THC, as an addictive drug or psychoactive substance. The Narcotic Substances Act ("SMG") constitutes the main framework of Austria's drug policy. It focuses on quantities on the one hand and a classification of substances on the other. However, the SMG refers to the Narcotic Drugs Ordinance ("SV") with regard to the specific substances that are to be classified as narcotic drugs. Annex I I.1.a SV stipulates that the flowers and fruit stems of plants belonging to the species Cannabis, from which the resin has not been removed, are considered narcotics and are therefore prohibited. The prohibition therefore does not extend to the seeds and leaves of the cannabis plant, but only to its THC and CBD-containing flowers and fruit stems.

Rules are made to be broken

The fact that CBD-containing products may nevertheless be sold in Austria is owing to an exceptional provision adopted in October 2017. The flowers and fruit stems of certain varieties of industrial hemp are exempted from the prohibition, provided that their THC content does not exceed 0.3 %. In comparison, cannabis acquired on the Austrian black market contains 15.1 % THC, as a study by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health has shown.

It is thus established that CBD in pure substance is not qualified as a drug and, secondly, that certain cannabis extracts with a very low THC content are also permitted by law.

Medicinal?

In connection with the legal qualification, the question also arises as to whether CBD products might possibly be medicinal products. After all, many consumers of CBD oils, ointments and teas are people suffering from pain who seek relief. When classifying products as medicinal products, it must be borne in mind that there are not only functional medicinal products that actually influence physiological functions through their action. The competent authority responsible for pharmaceutical regulatory affairs, the Austrian Federal Office for Safety in Health Care ("BASG"), explicitly does not regard CBD products as functional drugs.

Beyond that, there are medicinal products by presentation. Relating to that category, the customer may assume that it is a medicinal product with regard to the name or declaration. It is irrelevant whether and if pharmacological effects are present. In other words, medicinal products by presentation are agents that generally look like and are presented as medicinal products. Consequently, there is a risk that those CBD products which give the impression of being a medicinal product will be classified as such and thus subject to authorisation. Nevertheless, CBD is generally not a medicinal product.

What to expect

It is unclear how long the legal situation will remain as it is. According to the "Regierungsprogramm", the Austrian government's plan is to ban the sale of hemp seeds and plants. Such a ban would primarily have consequences for farmers who grow hemp and for owners of "grow shops" who resell liners and plugs of the cannabis plant. The Austrian market leader in the sale of hemp plants, a multimillion Euro business by the name of Flowery Field, has already abandoned the sinking ship and relocated its operations to Italy.

Most recently, a number of young Austrian entrepreneurs have entered the European CBD market with their start-ups. Worth mentioning in this context is CBDoken, which uses blockchain technology to trade CBD bottles. It would undeniably be a heavy blow if a CBD ban were implemented in Austria, since substantial revenues are being generated worldwide by the trade of this substance. In the US, CBD trading is already a one-billion-dollar industry and there is immense growth potential. In view of this, it is possible to imagine the impact that a ban on CBDs could have. At present, however, such a ban is fortunately not being openly discussed. There is nothing else but to trust that the Austrian government will recognise the potential of this substance, if not for the human body, then at least for the economy.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions