Absinthe was made illegal in many countries around the world in the early 1900s but has now been legalized in most countries due to tests showing its safety. This article will answer the question “Where is Absinthe legal?” and explain current legislation.
Absinthe, also known as the Green fairy or La Fee Verte, is high proof but is usually served diluted with water which causes the louche effect – the clouding that happens when water is added to the alcohol.
Absinthe is a strong liquor with an anise taste. Absinthe was a popular beverage in La Belle Epoque period in French history and also in the time known as the Great Binge, a time when cocaine, cannabis and heroin were used in drinks and children’s medicine before the dangers were known.
Absinthe was associated with the drug cannabis because it contains a chemical called thujone which was thought to be similar to THC. Thujone is found in wormwood (Artemisia Absinthium), the ingredient which gives Absinthe its name and its slight bitter taste. Absinthe was thought to contain high quantities of thujone and to cause psychedelic effects. Studies have since shown that the Absinthe recipe only contained small amounts of wormwood and gas chromatography tests have shown that even pre ban Absinthe only contained minute amounts of thujone.
Where is Absinthe legal today?
United States – The United States banned Absinthe and drinks containing thujone in 1912. It became a crime to buy or sell Absinthe in the USA although people managed to get Absinthe shipped in to the US from other countries for personal consumption.
Absinthe was never actually banned properly in the US. The law states that beverages must be tested and found to be “thujone free” to be legal to buy but test equipment shows Absinthe to be “thujone free” if it contains 10 parts per million or less of thujone. This law therefore means that many brands of today’s Absinthe are perfectly legal in the US. In 2007 brans such as “Lucid” went on sale in the United States and many more have followed suit.
The EU (European Union) – In 1988 the EU stated that Absinthe with a thujone content of 10mg/kg or less could go on sale and that alcohol classed as bitters could contain up to 35mg/kg of thujone. This was great news for Absinthe lovers in Europe.
Australia – Bitters with a thujone content of up to 35mg/kg are legal and other beverages can contain up to 10mg/kg.
Brazil – Absinthe of up to 10mg/kg thujone and with less than 55% abv can be sold.
Canada – Each Canadian province has its own liquor board with its own legislation concerning Absinthe. Many provinces do not allow any thujone containing alcohol to be sold but Absinthe is legal in British Columbia, where there is no regulation limit, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. Quebec and Ontario legislate that Absinthe with up to 10mg/kg thujone can be legally sold.
Czech Republic – The Czech Republic has always been famous for its Absinthe and its Absinthe bars. Absinthe has always been legal in the Czech Republic.
France – In 1988 a law was passed allowing thujone beverages to be sold if they complied with EU laws and if they were labeled “spiritueux à base de plantes d’absinthe” and not Absinthe. Fenchone, the chemical found in fennel is also regulated in France and beverages are only allowed up to 5mg/liter of fenchone.
Hungary – Absinthe became legal again in 2004.
Israel – Absinthe is legal for sale in Israel.
Ireland – In Ireland, people can order Absinthe from other countries for personal consumption but it is not legal for sale within Ireland.
Netherlands – Absinthe must meet EU requirements.
New Zealand – Absinthe is legal in New Zealand.
Portugal – Absinthe was never illegal in Portugal.
Russia – Absinthe is perfectly legal in Russia and even high thujone Absinthes (up to 75mg/kg thujone) are available.
Serbia – Serbia does not seem to allow Absinthe containing thujone or above 50% abv to be sold.
South Africa – Absinthe has been legal in South Africa since 2005.
Sweden – Absinthe has to be labeled as containing wormwood and must comply with EU legislation.
Switzerland – After over 90 years of being illegal, Absinthe was finally legalized in its home country in 2005.
UK – The UK never banned Absinthe. Absinthe must comply with EU legislation.
You have to be careful ordering Absinthe online because there are many fake Absinthes which were created for sale in countries where thujone containing Absinthe was illegal. In order to experience the real taste of Absinthe, you need to find a good quality wormwood Absinthe or make your own using Absinthe essences from AbsintheKit.com. These essences are made from traditional Absinthe herbs, including wormwood, and are already distilled. When you receive your essence, simply mix with vodka or Everclear – easy! These essences can be shipped world wide and you don’t need to worry “where is Absinthe legal?” because they are not Absinthe until you have made them. Check out the website for details.