October 28, 2021

The State Of CBD Around The World

CBD’s been on quite the journey in the United States. As a derivative of cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) was lumped in with marijuana as an illegal drug for decades. Its reputation has had ups and downs as society navigated changes in laws, regulations, and cannabis culture.

The 2018 US Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp on a federal level, which means CBD made from hemp with 0.3% THC or less is now legal. With virtually no THC, this hemp-derived broad-spectrum CBD doesn’t cause a high.

The CBD market grew rapidly post-legalization. North America currently holds the greatest share of the global CBD market.(1)

With CBD being commonplace across all 50 states, it’s enough to make you pause and wonder…

  • How does the rest of the world view CBD?
  • What are CBD laws like in other countries?
  • What does the CBD market look like around the globe?

These aspects — culture and social acceptance, laws, and the economy of CBD — are intertwined. Laws often reflect sentiment and vice versa. And the market is a reflection of the legal status and cultural acceptance.

To peel back these layers, we’re going on a CBD world tour. Since it would be impossible to span the globe without inspiring a considerable amount of naps and fidgeting, we’ll focus on these major regions:

  • CBD in Canada
  • CBD in Europe
  • CBD in Asia
  • CBD in Latin America
  • CBD in the Middle East and Africa

Got your passport? Good. Let’s go!

Pit Stop: Hemp vs Marijuana

Before we head off to see the sights, it helps to know what we’re looking for. Let’s clear up the difference between hemp and marijuana, and see where cannabis fits in.

Hemp and marijuana are both subspecies of Cannabis sativa L.

  • Hemp contains more CBD than THC.
  • Marijuana contains more THC than CBD.

CBD can be made from hemp or marijuana.

We’ll use the term cannabis when we’re talking about the range of things that fall into that category, CBD and marijuana included. We’ll specify CBD when we’re talking about CBD only.

Now that we’re all speaking the same language, fasten your seatbelt and prepare for takeoff.

CBD In Canada At A Glance

First stop: Our cannabis-loving northern neighbors.

  • The Canadian government legalized cannabis and cannabis-derived products in 2018, but provinces and territories set their own regulations.
  • The majority of the public has a positive view of cannabis in Canada for medical and recreational use.
  • The CBD market in Canada has a bright outlook.

Cannabis & CBD In Canadian Culture

Canada is one of the few places in the world to legalize recreational cannabis. As a result, marijuana dominates the spotlight with CBD taking the backseat.

Much like the relationship between the federal government and states in the US, Canadian provinces and territories make their own rules about cannabis sales and establishments selling CBD. So, social norms for cannabis may vary depending on where you’re at.

Another cannabis quirk of our northern neighbors: In Canada, CBD is CBD. Meaning even though they have an industrial hemp program, they don’t differentiate between CBD made from industrial hemp and CBD derived from marijuana.

A study that compared CBD use in Canada and the US found that CBD use was more prevalent in the US than in Canada.(2) Only 16.2% of respondents in Canada used CBD, while 26.1% of US respondents used CBD.

The CBD Market In Canada

Let’s look at Canadian CBD market trends stat by stat.

  • As of December 2020, the CBD market in Canada was worth around $1.6 billion. By 2023, It’s predicted to exceed $2 billion.(3)
  • Reflecting US trends, CBD drops are the most popular form of CBD in Canada. Unlike the US, edibles are slightly more popular than topicals.(2)
  • The Canadian CBD gummies market was valued at over $440 million in 2018. By 2025, it’s expected to grow by around $3 billion.(4)

Can’t get enough CBD statistics?Head to CBD Statistics: 2021: Mid-Year Check-In For The Inquiring Mind next!

CBD In Europe At A Glance

Europe is home to a mix of rich cultures. With so many different customs, it’s an interesting place to navigate CBD usage.

  • The legal status of CBD varies widely across European countries.
  • You’ll find varying levels of social acceptance about CBD and cannabis from country to country.
  • Overall, the European CBD market is booming.

Cannabis & CBD In European Culture

For Americans, green-friendly Amsterdam may come to mind when thinking about cannabis in Europe. But it’s really a mixed bag across the continent.

Most of Europe allows CBD products that contain up to 0.2% THC. Here are a few exceptions:

  • France only allows CBD isolate products (CBD products with 0% THC).
  • Switzerland permits THC content to be as high as 1.0%.
  • CBD is illegal in Belarus, Austria, Slovakia, and Lithuania.

This is by no means an exhaustive list — Europe has 44 countries, after all!

Although some European countries have banned CBD, conversions about legalization among lawmakers and pressure for medical cannabis indicate the public supports legalization in some capacity.

The CBD Market In Europe

Here’s the current state of the CBD market in Europe.

  • Europe’s CBD market is second only to North America.(5)
  • The CBD market in Europe is on track to increase 400% by 2024.(5)
  • In 2020, at over $2.1 billion, Germany had a higher CBD spending per capita than any other country.(6)

CBD In Asia At A Glance

A blend of traditional medicine and modern applications influence cannabis views in Asia.

  • For the most part, cannabis is restricted to medical use while CBD is popular in beauty products.
  • Traditional eastern medicine practices largely embrace cannabis.
  • Demand for CBD products is on the rise where it’s regulated, especially in China.

Cannabis & CBD In Asian Culture

Cannabis has deep roots in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and other traditional medical practices throughout Asia. Many countries uphold these traditions through their laws, making CBD and cannabis legal for medical purposes.

Laws don’t always reflect cultural tolerance, and strict laws may keep people from using cannabis in any form.

  • China’s CBD regulations require that CBD doesn’t exceed 0.3% THC.
  • Medical cannabis is allowed but under tight restrictions in South Korea.
  • Japan strictly prohibits cannabis and has harsh punishments for the sale, cultivation, distribution, or possession of it. However, CBD isolate with zero THC is legal.
  • Although marijuana isn’t legal in India, cannabis is embedded into Indian culture, and CBD is widely available.

The CBD Market In Asia

Although medicinal CBD is gaining traction, Asia’s CBD market is largely dominated by two sectors: cannabis testing and skincare.

  • Between 2018-2025, the cannabis testing market is projected to grow by 15.8%.(7)
  • In the Asia-Pacific region, it’s predicted the CBD skincare market will grow 28.25% from 2020-2028.(8)

CBD In Latin America At A Glance

In Latin America, Hemp is woven into history and culture, but illegal drug activity has informed cannabis laws.

  • The stigma related to hemp and CBD is slowly dissolving.
  • Access and legal status vary throughout Latin America.
  • Growth in CBD’s popularity and expansion of medical cannabis programs means there’s growth potential in the Latin American CBD market.

Cannabis & CBD In Latin American Culture

Hemp and South America go way back to 1545 when Spaniards introduced it through hemp plantations. The crop was mainly used for textiles. It became a key crop across the continent.

Modern drug activity spurred severe laws related to all things cannabis. Several countries maintain this stance, but many — such as Peru and Chile — have opened access for medical purposes.

Uruguay and Columbia are more open with their cannabis laws. You can legally use CBD and cannabis in both countries.

In Mexico, CBD products with 1% THC or less are permitted.

Violence and the illegal drug trade have made loosening restrictions on CBD in Latin America risky, but countries are finding ways to make it work.

The CBD Market In Latin America

Although some countries maintain restrictions, that also means there’s potential for expansion in the Latin American CBD market.

  • In 2020, the CBD market in Latin America was valued at $9.8 billion.(9)
  • This market is expected to grow 20.2% from 2021-2026.(10)

CBD In The Middle East & Africa At A Glance

The Middle East and Africa are some of the least-cannabis-friendly areas in the world, but views are changing in some areas.

  • Cannabis laws in the Middle East and Africa include some of the world’s harshest punishments. CBD is available in a few countries with restrictions.
  • Challenges with drug trafficking and cartel activity equal strict laws. Religion also plays a role.
  • Limitations are hindering CBD market growth, but the market is expected to expand.

Cannabis & CBD In Middle Eastern & African Culture

Fun fact: THC was discovered in Israel by Dr. Rafael Mechoulam in 1964. Today, Israel is on the path to decriminalizing cannabis, and it’s permitted for medical use.

Lebanon has also legalized cannabis for medical purposes. In the United Arab Empire, CBD can be used in beauty and personal care products.

However, cannabis is not well-received in most countries in the Middle East, largely due to religious beliefs. Derivatives of cannabis such as CBD are no exception.

In most African countries, legal punishments for cannabis range from a slap on the wrist to the death penalty. Drug trafficking is a major issue in some parts of Africa, and laws are designed to deter it. Here are a few that break the mold.

  • Cannabis isn’t accepted for religious reasons in Ghana, yet the country has the highest rate of cannabis use in Africa.
  • South Africa temporarily permitted CBD use from 2019-2020.
  • Zimbabwe legalized CBD for medical use, but access remains limited.

The CBD Market In The Middle East & Africa

Even though the Middle East and Africa aren’t keen on cannabis, CBD has growth potential through the medical and personal care product markets.

  • Israel remains a leader in cannabis research. Medicinal cannabis access has opened the door to more research opportunities.(11)
  • The CBD oil market in the Middle East and Africa is forecasted to grow by 29.8% between 2020-2027.(12)
  • 49% growth is expected between 2019-2024 is expected in the Saudi Arabian beauty and personal care product market.(13)

You’ve Got The Whole CBD World In Your Hands

Whew, what a trip! CBD laws and culture are truly all over the map!

But, now that your CBD travelogue is bursting with international trends and social views, you can talk CBD markets and customs with folks from most corners of the globe.

In case you got distracted along the way, here’s a recap.

  • In the US, CBD’s as normal as beer or coffee in most areas.
  • You’re more likely to run into marijuana than CBD in Canada, but CBD is around.
  • Europe is home to a mixed bag of CBD policies and social norms.
  • Asia has hemp history, but you might have a tougher time finding CBD oil for recreational use.
  • You’ll cross CBD all-access zones and CBD no-access zones when passing through Latin America.
  • All forms of cannabis tend to be sparse in the Middle East and Africa with a few special cases.

Just remember that the world is a big, diverse place, so keep an open mind. You never know when you’ll learn something new about your favorite cannabinoid!



  1. (2021). Cannabidiol Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Source Type (Hemp, Marijuana), By Distribution Channel (B2B, B2C), By End-use (Medical, Personal Use), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 - 2028. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/cannabidiol-cbd-market
  2. Goodman, S, et al. (2020). Use and Perceptions of Cannabidiol Products in Canada and in the United States. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2020.0093
  3. O’Neill, L. (2020). Snapshot of the CBD Oil Market in Canada – 2 Years After Legalization. The Greenfund. https://thegreenfund.com/snapshot-of-the-cbd-oil-market-in-canada-2-years-after-legalization
  4. Conway, J. (2020). Canadian CBD gummies market value 2015-2025. Statista. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1092773/cbd-gummies-market-size-canada/
  5. (2020). Europe's CBD Market Projected To Grow By 400%. Financial News Media. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/europes-cbd-market-projected-to-grow-by-400-301117489.html
  6. (2021). CBD Trends and Regulations in Europe’s Food and Wellness Markets. New Frontier Data. https://newfrontierdata.com/cannabis-insights/cbd-trends-and-regulations-in-europes-food-and-wellness-markets/
  7. (2019). Asia Pacific: cannabis testing and the untapped CBD market. Health Europa. https://www.healtheuropa.eu/asia-pacific-cannabis-markets/93798/
  8. (2020). Asia Pacific CBD Skin Care Market Forecast 2020-2028. Inkwood research. https://inkwoodresearch.com/reports/asia-pacific-cbd-skin-care-market/
  9. Bradshaw, M. (2020) CBD in Latin America: The Rise of a Multi-Billion Dollar Market. Latin American Post. https://latinamericanpost.com/34478-cbd-in-latin-america-the-rise-of-a-multi-billion-dollar-market
  10. (2021). Latin America Cannabidiol Market Research Report – Segmented By Source Type, Distribution Channel, End Use & Country (Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Rest of Latin America) – Industry Forecast (2021 to 2026). Market Data Forecast. https://www.marketdataforecast.com/market-reports/latin-america-cannadibiol-market
  11. Ward, A. (2021) Israel's Cannabis Market: What Investors & Entrepreneurs Need To Know. Yahoo! https://www.yahoo.com/now/israels-cannabis-market-investors-entrepreneurs-200037094.html
  12. (2020). Middle East and Africa CBD Oil Market – Industry Trends and Forecast to 2027. Data Bridge Market Research. https://www.databridgemarketresearch.com/reports/middle-east-and-africa-cbd-oil-market
  13. (2021). Saudi Arabia Beauty And Personal Care Market Global Latest Trends and Insights 2021 to 2027. Market Watch. https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/saudi-arabia-beauty-and-personal-care-market-global-latest-trends-and-insights-2021-to-2027-2021-08-18

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