You may have seen CBD popping up everywhere, often featured with a cannabis leaf. But wait! Isn't cannabis illegal? Learn about CBD laws in the UK. CBD oil is legal, as long as the oil doesn't contain any controlled substances such as THC and CBN within the product. Find out more information here.
CBD Laws In The UK: What You Need To Know Before You Purchase CBD
Cannabidiol continues to take the UK by storm. With its health benefits becoming broadly known and acceptance gaining traction, this trajectory is expected to continue. According to the Global Cannabidiol Market Report, this worldwide industry will explode to £9.72 billion by 2028. That’s a 21.2% compound annual growth rate. The Brits continuously revise CBD laws in the UK to support this market growth as new information arises.
But marijuana has been illegal here since 1928. As CBD comes from the cannabis plant, questions still remain in the community. You might have several yourself.
- What do CBD laws in the UK actually look like?
- Will I risk a positive drug test if I eat an edible?
- Does CBD have the same effects as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?
- Am I breaking the law if I buy, consume or apply CBD oil?
These questions are important to answer. Clarity empowers appropriate action. So in this guide, you’ll discover what you should know about CBD laws.
CBD laws: European Union versus Brexit plans
As reported in The Guardian on November 20, 2020, according to EU law CBD is not a narcotic drug. The European Court of Justice came to this determination as CBD “… does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health.”
Yet, different countries have different rules, leading to a grey area for controlled substances. This makes imports and exports tricky because red tape is ample and the rules are in flux.
The United Nations, WHO, EU and the USA appear to be modifying their CBD laws. This is sensible given the benefits that this incredible, safe compound can deliver. Now, post-Brexit UK plans to follow suit.
Here’s what you need to know.
CBD Laws in the UK: Is CBD Legal?
Yes, CBD is legal to purchase, possess and use in the UK as long as it has either no THC or a low THC content (under 0.2%), is made using an EU-approved industrial hemp and is marketed in full compliance with existing regulations.
Note: This is only the case for CBD. At Cannabotech, we are sometimes asked if THC oil or cannabis is legal in UK? No, it’s not at the time of writing this article.
CBD Classification: How Has the Landscape Changed?
While CBD is safe and non-intoxicating, it has not always been regulated accordingly. For years it was thrown in with THC and cannabis. This historically meant gaining access to CBD was banned under cannabis laws in the UK.
Let’s look at its history…
Misuse of drugs act 1971
Cannabis is classified as a Class B controlled drug by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. That meant the parliament considered it less harmful than Class A, but more so than Class C drugs.
Misuse of drugs regulations 2002
In 2001, though, a review recommended downgrading the classification of cannabis. The advisory council tasked with this investigation concluded that “The classification of Cannabis as a Class B drug was disproportionate both in relation to its inherent toxicity and to that of other Class B substances.”
Home office licensing for CBD production
But all cannabis isn’t created equal. The Home Office differentiates between cannabis cultivars with a high or low THC level. Then license accordingly.
Gov.Uk states that licences can be issued to grow plants with low THC content for the “production of hemp fibre for industrial purposes or the obtaining of seeds which are then pressed for their oil.”
Licences only allow for the use of non-controlled parts of the plant for defined commercial purposes.
Stock must be grown from approved seeds only; ones that contain 0.2% or less THC content.
Note: The 0.2% THC is the maximum to remain within the legal limit. By seeking products manufactured by UK-regulation approved, you ensure you stay legal and safe. We adhere to all CBD laws in the UK so you can gain access to premium products, worry-free.
World Health Organisation (WHO)
Presented in 2018, WHO’s CANNABIDIOL (CBD) Critical Review Report made statements based on the best available evidence. While this doesn’t impact CBD laws, the findings are important. These include:
- CBD does not exhibit any potential for abuse or dependence
- CBD is well tolerated
- CBD displays a good safety profile
- There is no evidence of “any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD”
Regulatory Status and Rules Related to CBD Products Sold in UK
CBD is safe, well-tolerated, and non-addictive.
It’s not surprising that the Home Office has said, “CBD as an isolated substance, in its pure form, would not be controlled under the MDA 1971 / MDR 2001.” In short, CBD UK law states this compound is legal.
But extracting this compound in isolation is not easy. That’s why CBD laws aren’t as simple as might first seem reasonable.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, as we’ve mentioned, is a controlled drug.
Since both THC and CBD exist within cannabis, there is a chance of cross-contamination within products. Regardless of intention, THC at levels above 0.2% means a CBD product crosses the threshold into a controlled substance.
As such, CBD manufacturers are required to secure and hold an approved license for their products.
In 2019, CBD extracts were confirmed to have what’s called “novel food status.” For food businesses that sell CBD products, this certification is the only route to compliance in the UK. As per food, cosmetic producers must be hyper-cautious with THC. In the UK, cosmetic ingredients must contain no controlled substances. In the case of cannabis, that means no THC.
Governing Bodies and Individual Rules
A range of products are available on the market, with each type having particular governing bodies and regulations.
- The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for consumables. This includes CBD edibles, tinctures, supplements, and oils– anything consumed. You can find out more information here.
- The Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA) offer greater insight into CBD-containing cosmetics. You can read more here. The legality of CBD flower and CBD bud in the UK (cosmetics) is a grey area nonetheless. A court ruling subject to interpretation, greater clarification will come with time and further legal challenge.
- Then there is the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA (EU)) and The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA). The EFSA (EU) defines the novel food classification as covering a food “that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force.”
To meet this classification there are several factors that must be adhered to:
- Firstly, the food must be safe for consumers.
- Secondly, it must be correctly labelled and free from misleading content.
- Thirdly, if meant to replace another food, the novel food must not lead to nutritional disadvantages. Due to its recency, foods containing CBD are categorised and regulated as a novel food.
In the UK, the FSA set a deadline of March 31, 2021, for companies to submit valid novel food applications. Those who have done so can continue to trade until the results of toxicology studies are returned. The assessment considers THC and CBD. If THC is higher than the allowable 0.2%, novel food registration will be denied.
With so much to consider in regard to CBD laws in the UK, how can you get what you need while remaining safe and legal?
How to Stay Safe and Legal With CBD in the UK
CBD just got supercharged- banner gif with mushrooms and cannabis
CBD is completely legal to purchase and use in the UK as long as it contains under 0.2% THC and was produced by approved industrial hemp per the Misuse of Drugs Act. This means that marijuana derivatives, which typically contain more THC than CBD oil, are not legal to purchase, use or possess.
To ensure you gain the benefits of cannabidiol while staying on the right side of CBD laws in the UK, purchase only from a reputable store with UK registration. This way you can enjoy the beneficial properties of CBD without concern for breaking UK or EU law.
Is CBD legal in the UK?
If you’re thinking about trying CBD products you may want to make sure they are legal and safe to use in the UK. CBD products must meet certain standards in order to be legally bought and sold in the UK. Read on as we answer the question, is CBD oil legal in UK.
CBD legalisation in the UK
CBD is legal in the UK, however the CBD oil UK law states that the product has to meet certain criteria to be lawfully available for human consumption. Many CBD products on the high street aren’t always properly authorised. So, when you’re looking to buy CBD oil, spray or capsules it’s best to buy them from trusted websites, pharmacies or stores to make sure these products are safe for consumption. If in doubt speak to your doctor or a pharmacist, and make sure to always read the label before taking CBD products.
CBD oil must not contain any trace of THC to be legally sold in the UK. It’s the THC that’s present in the cannabis plant, that CBD is extracted from, that gets you high. Although taken from the same plant, CBD oil should have a minimal, if any, amount of THC in it in order to be legal. You can find out more about how CBD oil is made here.
When was CBD oil made legal in the UK?
Most CBD oils are sold as food supplements. However, in 2016, the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) stated that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) could be classed as a medicine, if used for medicinal purposes. To be sold, supplied and advertised as medicines, CBD products must have a license. The licensing ensures that CBD oil products meet safety, quality and efficacy standards. These standards and regularity guidance help to make sure that CBD products are safe for people to take and use as medicines. If you would like to start taking CBD oil to treat or manage a condition, it’s best to discuss this with your GP.
CBD is not recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medication. If you are already taking medication, we suggest you speak to your doctor before using any CBD products.
Can I take CBD oil in the UK?
There are hundreds of CBD brands and product types that you can take and use in the UK. These include CBD oils, sprays, capsules and skincare to name a few that. If they meet the standards set by the MHRA, these products are safe to take in the UK. However, CBD is not recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medication. If you are already taking medication, we suggest you speak to your doctor before using any CBD products.
The Foods Standard Agency have released new advice around CBD and the amount people should be taking, they recommend no more than 70mg a day unless your doctor has advised otherwise. So, make sure to check the product packaging on your CBD oil to make sure you take the right dosage. If you’re already taking a high dose you may want to minimise the amount you’re taking daily. If you’re unsure you can always talk to a pharmacist or doctor about your CBD usage.
What are the UK regulations for CBD oil?
CBD product have to follow certain regulations when being produced and sold within the UK. This form of quality control applies to manufacturers and the processes they use to create the CBD products they sell and supply. However, with more and more vape and CBD shops springing up on the high street it can be hard to know who is adhering to UK regulations. It’s always best to do your research, speak to a pharmacist or doctor before you try CBD products for yourself.
CBD as a novel food
CBD was announced as a novel food in January 2019 and added to the Novel Foods catalogue. Although the catalogue doesn’t have a legal status is allows authorities to make decisions about novel foods, their safety and their legality. CBD is a food supplement and should be taken as one. Remember to speak to a doctor before taking CBD if you’re already on medication. Also, food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.
What is a novel food?
Novel foods are foods which have not been available to the UK or EU public before May 1997. They’re relatively new and so don’t have a ‘history of consumption’, so the Foods Standards Agency has a responsibility to ensure they’re safe to eat or drink. Each new food must undergo a safety assessment and authorisation before it can be legally marketed in the UK. CBD will have gone through this process and continues to be regulated while it has novel food status.
Novel foods include:
- New foods such as probiotic bacteria in yoghurts
- Foods eaten around the world but not in the UK or EU, like chia seeds
- Foods made in new ways or by new processes such as UVC treated milk
Travelling and driving with CBD oil
As CBD is legal in the UK you should be able to take CBD on domestic flights within the UK, however it’s best to contact your flight provider to make sure it’s ok. If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll need to check the hand luggage and luggage guidance. Remember as CBD oil is classed as a liquid it’ll be subject to the 100ml liquid rule for hand luggage. If you’re traveling internationally, we also recommend checking the CBD laws in the country you are travelling to, as well as the terms and conditions of the airline you’re flying with.
To be legal in the UK CBD products must have very low levels of THC, so that they’re not psychoactive and won’t get you high. You should be safe to drive while taking CBD, however with all food supplements there are possible side effects which could affect you. We recommend that you read the product information and packaging so you’re aware of what could happen.
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CBD oil is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any ailments.
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.