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Marijuana Lite: the CBD-rich cannabis making waves in Europe

Of late, a new type of cannabis has been sweeping parts of western Europe – it’s called ‘CBD cannabis’, or ‘Marijuana Lite’. Switzerland, France, Italy and even the United Kingdom are taking an interest in this legal form of marijuana, which comes from hemp and has a maximum 1 percent THC. CBD cannabis is, as one would expect, rich in CBD. But what many will want to know is whether Marijuana Lite will get them baked? First, let’s find out a bit more about this revolutionary cannabis.

Marijuana Lite – or high-CBD cannabis

Marijuana Lite is a hemp plant with no more than 1 percent THC that was originally cultivated in Switzerland. To the eye and nose, it looks just likes any other strain of marijuana, and it tastes like it too. While most hemp plants are grown to make fiber and are therefore not grown with care – as far as the flowers are concerned anyway – this isn’t the case with Marijuana Lite.

Most Marijuana Lite plants are cultivated indoors with high-level growing methods that have, until now, been used to cultivate world-class strains of recreational, high-THC marijuana. The result of this targeted CBD-rich cannabis cultivation is sticky, resin-coated buds with dashes of orange, accompanied by a beautiful aroma.

The Swiss news platform Swissinfo recently interviewed Werner Bosch, one of the first people to start cultivating Marijuana Lite. Bosch explained how the seeds he uses are imported from America and then cross-bred until a strain is developed that is rich in CBD, yet has no more than 1 percent THC.

Achieving this was a significant feat and one that took all of Bosch’s near-two decades’ worth of acquired knowledge and experience from growing marijuana. Bosch quit his job to open a headshop in the late 1990’s, a period where even high-THC cannabis was legal in Switzerland, and he has had close involvement with the Swiss marijuana community since.

Golden Green, Bosch’s high-CBD strain contains a mammoth 15 percent CBD and a miniscule 0.6 percent THC. It’s proving immensely popular cannabis, with Bosch’s operation growing at a speedy rate. Bosch is not the only cultivator finding success with Marijuana Lite. The Swiss CBD market is estimated to be worth 200 million Swiss Francs ($200 million), says Swissinfo.

What makes Marijuana Lite legal?

Hemp was legalized in Switzerland back in 2011, with the THC threshold set at 1 percent. Possession of up to 10 grams of high-THC marijuana, usually for recreational purposes, is also decriminalized in the country. Marijuana Lite is Switzerland’s answer to the explosion in both medical and recreational cannabis in the United States. Europeans are noticing the incredible stories attributed to CBD and want their own alternative medication options.

Hemp with up to 0.2 percent THC is legal to ship all over Europe. With customs not causing bother for companies, it’s no wonder that Marijuana Lite has been popping up in neighboring countries Italy and France. However, it’s somewhat surprising that CBD-rich cannabis has made it to the UK already, as the country is further behind with cannabis legislation than several countries on the continent. Essentially, the exception made for low-THC hemp has allowed for the exportation of Marijuana Lite all over Europe.

Marijuana Lite can be purchased at a headshop, in countries where these are allowed, or can be bought off the internet. Prices vary but are often similar to those for high-THC recreational strains sold on the black market. Companies selling CBD-rich cannabis have to play by certain rules when marketing their products – for example, according to the Guardian, Marijuana Lite cannot be marketed as medicine.

Marijuana Lite is proving a nightmare for Swiss police, despite its legal status. This is because it’s appearance and scent is indistinguishable from recreational, high-THC cannabis, which is not permitted for public consumption. Hence police often get confused and civilians often get in trouble for no reason.

The managing director of Cannical, a Swiss marijuana lite company, explained to VICE that because CBD-rich buds are laden with trichomes, you “can’t really tell the difference.”

Swiss citizens do have the right to ask an arresting officer to check the cannabinoid concentrations of their marijuana, however this is an expensive and needless process. The police are required to give people back cannabis which tests for less than 1 percent THC. The chaos that high-CBD and high-THC cannabis is causing has led many Swiss people to support the total legalization of marijuana.

Why are people smoking Marijuana Lite?

The reasons for using CBD are the same in Europe as they are in the United States. Many love that they can use this form of cannabis without getting stoned, finding that the lack of hallucinogenic side effects allows them to focus entirely on the medical properties. CBD is helpful at treating inflammation, depression, anxiety, insomnia and more.

As in the US, hemp-based products are legal everywhere providing they don’t go over the specified THC limit. In America that sits at 0.3 percent, while the Swiss have the threshold at a slightly more relaxed 1 percent. Hemp-based CBD products are most popular in states with either restrictive cannabis laws, or none at all.

This is the case in Italy, France and the UK where accessing medical cannabis legally ranges from very difficult to impossible. So, people are turning to the internet and purchasing Marijuana Lite instead. Germany, Portugal and Spain, three European countries with more complete medical cannabis legislation, have seen a recent increase in cannabis products with an even ratio of CBD to THC. This is also the case in the United States.

What is Marijuana Lite like to smoke?

Most Marijuana Lite users report a relaxing experience without a psychological high. The calming properties of CBD-rich cannabis can boost appetite and make it easier to drift off to sleep. The body high from these strains helps to relieve tension in the muscles. Some find that Marijuana Lite reduces chronic pain or gives them the necessary natural mood boost when enduring a bout of depression. Others simply like to enjoy a joint at the end of a hard day, in the same way people like to drink a pint of beer or glass of wine.

Some have chosen to get innovative, infusing their Marijuana Lite into butter and oil and then making edibles with it. Cannabis tea is also popular.

Marijuana Lite is thriving in Europe and shows no signs of letting up. As citizens in Switzerland, Italy, France and the UK become more informed about the health benefits of cannabis and CBD, additional cannabis products should also be made available.

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