What to Know About
Cannabis in Austria
With a thriving hemp industry and the likelihood of a domestic cannabis industry in the not-too-distant future, now is the time to enter Austria’s cannabis industry.
Here’s everything aspiring cannabusiness owners should know about cannabis in Austria and what it takes to enter this lucrative industry.
The History of Cannabis in Austria
The use of medicinal cannabis in Austria has been documented as far back as the mid-1800s, when Empress Elisabeth of Austria was known to take it for her coughing and to stimulate her appetite.
Cannabis prohibitions dominated Europe and North America during the 20th century. But today, almost 150 years later, Austria has a seasoned medicinal cannabis program.
While recreational cannabis is merely decriminalized, medicinal cannabis in Austria is still highly restrictive. The country has yet to fully open its doors to eager cannabis entrepreneurs.
As of the end of 2022, Austria stands on the precipice of potentially legalizing cannabis through judicial decree.
To get the wheels in motion for your new cannabusiness and make your business-ownership dreams a reality, contact Higher Yields Consulting.
Questions on cannabis
Austria’s Cannabis Laws
It’s illegal to buy or possess recreational cannabis in Austria. However, since 2016, cannabis possession has been effectively decriminalized, with penalties for possession of small amounts being about the same as for a parking violation.
Interestingly, it’s legal to cultivate as many of your own cannabis plants at home as you’d like. The catch is that none of the plants you grow can be flowering, and they must be less than 0.3% THC, per the European Union (EU).
Additionally, because pure CBD isn’t defined as an addictive drug, it’s not subject to drug laws. However, foods containing CBD extracts are considered “novel foods,” and businesses are required to have a separate license and authorization before bringing CBD-based edibles to the market.
And while at present, there appears to be no clear legislative path to legalizing recreational cannabis in Austria, cannabis users have reason for hope. Currently, a case challenging the ban on personal-use cannabis is pending before the Austrian Supreme Court.
This approach mirrors the Mexican high court’s declaration that the country’s cannabis prohibitions were unconstitutional. The Austrian case should be decided in 2023.
Austria is home to over 8.5 million people and one of the largest populations of medicinal cannabis patients in all of Europe, thus representing a potentially very large cannabis market.
Medicinal cannabis has been legal since 2008, but it’s highly regulated and restricted. The law only allows the use of three cannabis-based products — sativex, nabilone, and dronabinol — to be prescribed to patients with a limited number of qualifying conditions, and cannabis flowers are prohibited.
But there are some problems with Austria’s medicinal cannabis program in terms of access to insurance reimbursement by patients and the inability of private companies to enter the market. As a result, Austrians are pushing for full legalization.
The next couple years will prove crucial in determining the future of the laws and landscape of both recreational and medicinal cannabis in Austria.
Cannabis in Austria
Though recreational cannabis in Austria is illegal (but decriminalized), recent surveys suggest that up to 40% of Austrians aged 15-24 years old have used cannabis in some form at some point in their lives.
Because Austrian law permits the cultivation of an unlimited number of non-flowering cannabis plants, Austrians grow and sell an estimated 300,000 cannabis seedlings and clones every year.
CBD and hemp are completely legal and widely available throughout Austria. That said, growers can only cultivate hemp from a limited number of varieties found in the EU common catalogue.
Though Austrian law prohibits natural and synthetic narcotics from being used in cosmetics, the EU Commission recently included CBD extracts in its Closing database, a list of substances deemed fit for use in cosmetics.
Contact Us to discuss cannabis
Licenses in Austria
If you are looking to attain a license for hemp or cannabis in Austria Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting can help. Our team of cannabis licensing consultants and technical writers has had great success helping newcomers and experienced operators attain licenses all over the world.
Starting a Cannabusiness in Austria
The Austrian cannabis industry is almost impossible to enter because only the Health Ministry is allowed to cultivate cannabis in Austria. The Health Ministry then exports cannabis to countries like Germany, where they make dronabinol and export the cannabis-based medicines back to Austria.
Austria relies entirely on imports for medicinal cannabis products. In 2021, it imported 6,460 grams of dronabinol — about a 28% increase over 2020.
There don’t appear to be any regulatory changes in the near future for medicinal cannabis in Austria, which leaves very little room for cannabis entrepreneurs to enter the Austrian medicinal cannabis industry at present. But the recent Supreme Court developments mean the Austrian cannabis industry could soon be rife with opportunities.
For now, though, there are ways to enter the Austrian cannabis market before full legalization happens. Your best bet is to focus on cultivating hemp or cannabis clones for retail sales.
If you’d like to enter the Austrian cannabis market, our expert consultants can help you navigate the country’s cannabis laws.
The Future of Cannabis in Austria
Austria is a large importer of medicinal cannabis products, and the numbers of imports continues to grow. Though the medicinal cannabis industry is cornered by the Ministry of Health, there are ingenious ways to enter the Austrian cannabis industry,
Consider the country’s thriving hemp and CBD markets, which are easily accessible due to lax regulation. Taking into account that the Supreme Court could soon legalize recreational cannabis in Austria, there will likely be ample opportunity to start a cannabusiness in the near future.
If you are interested in capitalizing on this highly lucrative market, the experts at Higher Yields Consulting can help you realize your dream.
With decades of combined cannabis consulting experience, we can help you navigate the regulatory landscape so you can take part in this exploding worldwide industry.
Last updated: March 17, 2023