Sweden's Supreme Court outlaws sale of THC-containing CBD oil

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images/Sinhyu
©Getty Images/Sinhyu
Sweden's Supreme Court rules that cannabidiol (CBD) oil made from industrial hemp containing any amount of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is a drug,

In a ruling that effectively bans the retail sale of CBD oil in the country, the Court makes its decision after a man was charged with possession of a THC preparation that under Swedish law falls under narcotic control laws.

Court documents​ (in Swedish) state the man ordered the oil on the internet in order to use it as a dietary supplement to address pain.

He believed the liquid was legal because it was made from industrial hemp that was exempt from drug law.

District court disagreement

However, the District Court said the limit of the exemption for industrial hemp was so vague that the principle of legality prevented criminal liability for drug offenses. 

The Court of Appeal established the judgment after the man was acquitted of all charges in which the concentration of THC in the CBD oil in his possession was not determined.

According to the Supreme Court, hemp is excluded from the definition of cannabis and is therefore considered not to be a drug.

This does not apply if the plant has been converted into a preparation containing the substance THC.

“It is clear that the exception for industrial hemp only relates to plants of the genus Cannabis,”​ the Court said in a statement.

“A preparation containing THC does not meet with the exception and therefore constitutes drugs. 

“The so-called legality principle sets, among other things, demands that criminal law regulation not be too indefinite. 

“The Drug Regulation and the exemption for industrial hemp, according to the Supreme Court, are not so unclear that the application of the rules would be contrary to the principle of legality.”

Clarification provided

The ruling provides some much needed clarification for Swedish CBD retailers and manufacturers even though the decision does not side with them.

From 2017, eight firms have been barred from selling CBD-containing supplements after Sweden’s Medical Products Agency specifically stated​ that products containing the compound are drugs.

The Agency added that since the pharmaceutical legislation requires that medicines be approved or registered, the sale of these products was not permitted.

Market research firm CBD-Intel report that in April 2018, Swedish CBD brand Hemply Balance were instructed to cease selling CBD oil.

The company were granted an exemption and permitted to continue selling its products until the Courts had made a decision.

As a result of the Court’s latest decision, Nordic Med Can, removed pure CBD oil​ from their online store, choosing to emphasise their other hemp-based products.

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