By: Andreas Natterer, Michaela Pohl, Thomas Kulnigg 

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.