This article covers the key questions on the legal status of CBD (Cannabidiol) and how this affects its commercialisation and use in the UK. Are CBD and hemp legal in the UK? Rest assured, CBD is legal to both sell, purchase and use in the UK. In this short article, we discuss where the confusion originates from. Get all of the latest Health news from The Scotsman. Providing fresh perspective online for news across the UK
CBD, is it legal in the UK?
When buying cannabidiol (CBD), it is essential to know that the product you’ve chosen is legal in the UK. There are a number of rules and regulations in place meaning that some products are legal and some are not. Whilst others may be, depending on how they have been produced.
We spoke with Robert Jappie, partner at London law firm Ince who specialises in cannabis regulation in the UK and Europe. We wanted to gain the benefits of his expertise and share it here. Our first question was, is CBD legal? He said:
“It is absolutely legal. Whether it be ingestibles, vapes or cosmetics… there is strict regulatory requirements in place to ensure that only quality products are sold to consumers.”
These requirements include the 3 criteria for exemption, as set out by the MDR (Medical Device Regulations). Some product types also require Novel Food authorisation from the Food Standards Agency.
CBD legality: fast facts
- CBD is legal to buy and sell in the UK. This includes all of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- CBD cannot legally be sold in the form of hemp flowers.
- Oils, gummies, capsules and other edibles require Novel Foods authorisation from the FSA to be legally sold as of 2021.
- CBD cannot be marketed and sold for pets in the UK as it is considered a medicine by the VMD.
- Full-spectrum CBD products are legal if they contain less than 1mg of THC and have Novel Foods authorisation.
- CBD can be prescribed by the NHS in rare cases.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid that has been extracted from the cannabis plant. The main rules and guidelines for CBD are the same as cannabis. Cannabis is illegal to grow, buy, sell and possess, according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
However, due to its non-intoxicating nature, there are various exemptions so that safe effective food supplements containing CBD can be sold.
Criteria for CBD to be legal
When viewing CBD products online it is easy to get the impression that the legality of each product depends only on it having low levels of THC. The reality is more complicated. To be legal in the UK CBD products must meet the following criteria:
- CBD cannot be sold as a medicine.
- The container must include less than 1mg of THC, THCV or CBN.
- The product must not be packaged in a way that makes it easy to separate the controlled cannabinoids (THC, THCV and CBN).
- CBD capsules, gummies, oils, pastes and other edibles must receive Novel Foods authorisation.
Note: Novel Foods does not apply to CBD vape juices, hemp tea or cosmetic products such as CBD balms and creams.
1. CBD cannot be sold as a medicine
CBD supplements have not been subject to the scrutiny and testing required for a UK medicine. As a result they must not be sold or promoted as having medicinal benefits.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) made this clear in a statement released October 2016:
“Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine. Medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt.”
The CBD sold here and in other UK shops is provided as a food supplement only. No medical benefits can be inferred and to do so breaks the law.
2. Less than 1mg of controlled cannabinoids
CBD is legal if it contains less than 1mg of THC, THCV and CBN in the final preparation as per part C of regulation 2:
“[N]o one component part of the product or preparation contains more than one milligram of the controlled drug”
There is a good chance you have seen mentions of products being legal because they contain less than 0.2% THC. This is wrong, 0.2% is not a classification of a legal product but a guideline relating to which hemp varieties can be used by licensed commercial growers.
The Home Office factsheet clearly states:
“The ‘0.2%’ reference is used solely to identify varieties which may potentially be cultivated. (2019)”
3. THC must not easily separate from the oil
A CBD product must not become a source for others to extract the THC (or any other controlled cannabinoids such as THCV and CBN). The Home Office states that in order to be exempt from the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001:
“[T]he controlled drug in any component part [must be] packaged in such a form, or in combination with other active or inert substances in such a manner, that it cannot be recovered by readily applicable means or in a yield which constitutes a risk to health.”
4. Novel Foods authorisation
EU novel food regulations require all foods without a significant history of consumption before May 1997 to be classified as ‘novel foods’. In January 2019, the European Commission declared that they had not received enough of the required evidence and updated the Novel Food Catalogue to include CBD products.
The UK Food Standards Agency was advised that CBD food supplements shouldn’t be sold unless they have been officially evaluated and permitted. As a result, on February 13, 2020, the FSA set a deadline for all CBD food supplements on sale in the UK to be authorised under the Novel Food regulations.
“After 31 March next year (2021), only products which have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market. The authorisation process ensures novel foods meet legal standards, including on [its] safety and content.”
Whilst these new rules are restrictive, it is believed that they will ensure any products available in the UK will be best in class. Robert Jappie was keen to point this out:
“With the introduction of the Novel Food regime, CBD compliance is now a serious business. Novel Food is the global benchmark for food safety, so UK CBD products can now be said to be the safest in the world.”
The FSA took much longer to process these applications than first anticipated. In June 2022, they finally published a revised list of products that can remain on sale either permanently or whilst further information is sought.
There are currently around 11,000 products on this list, anything that is not included here should now be removed from the shelves, except those products that are exempt such as e-liquids, balms and hemp tea.
Is CBD Legal in the UK in 2022?
Rest assured, CBD is legal to both sell, purchase and use in the UK, and, we’re happy to announce there are no plans for this to change any time soon. However, we can see why you might be confused with so much info out there.
There is still plenty of uncertainty with consumers regarding cannabinoids and CBD oil, primarily surrounding its legality, safety, and efficacy in the UK, which isn’t helped thousands of online articles reporting supposed scientific claims. In fact, they make it particularly annoying to filter through to find the truth.
How do you know the law surrounding CBD?
With years of experience in bringing safe and high-quality CBD to the UK and European markets in oils and pouches, we have a strong familiarity with the law and regulation surrounding its growth and production (for more on how we make CBD – check out our guide here). This article explains where much of the confusion originates and clarifies many of the myths relating to cannabidiol.
Will CBD remain legal in the UK in 2022?
We’re happy to state that CBD remains legal in the UK, and its popularity is still growing. The CBD market worldwide is set to hit £2.6 billion by the end of this year!
Definitions of CBD, Cannabis, Hemp and Marijuana
The complexness surrounding CBD’s legality arises from the unclear explanations of the terms. For example, what do we mean when we say CBD rather than hemp? Let’s take a look.
What is Hemp?
Hemp, also called “industrial hemp,” refers to the non-intoxicating varietals of the Cannabis Sativa plant . Hemp is one of the world’s oldest domesticated crops, and it’s been used for centuries for everything from ropemaking and textiles – even housebuilding! A strange fact – it used to be the law for farmers to grow hemp. Henry VIII demanded that for every 60 acres, farmers had to produce about 1/4 acre of flax or hemp!
While the variety contains only trace amounts of THC, it has many other cannabinoids, such as CBN, CBG and of course, CBD.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is the genus’s name (science speak for a “family”) for both the hemp and marijuana plant, but they are divided by their usage, chemical make-up and cultivation. Cannabis has three species: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis.
If you’ve heard the term on the news – this is usually referring to the family by its generic term and the illegal development of the psychoactive drug containing the cannabinoid THC, which creates the feeling of euphoria and the well-known ‘high.’
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the strains of cannabis made from the dried cultivated flowers or leaves of the Cannabis Indica or Cannabis Sativa species. You’ve probably heard the other common names for this, such as weed and pot. Marijuana is illegal when grown or produced in the UK and much of the world (without a licence). Another strange fact: over half of all drug seizures worldwide are cannabis seizures.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are the compounds secreted by cannabis flowers (just like all the vitamins or minerals in vegetables). In the 1980s, scientists discovered that these compounds mimic those our bodies naturally produce (called endocannabinoids) , which interact with the newly discovered endocannabinoid system (which is found throughout your body). As a result, these compounds can influence appetite, mood, and even memory.
CBD and THC are currently the two most well-known cannabinoids based on efficacy and potency. Still, much research is being undertaken to explore more on the other hundreds of interactions with the human body. For more detail on endocannabinoids, check out our article here.
What is CBD (cannabidiol)?
CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid in the hemp plant. It’s a naturally occurring compound used in oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. However, CBD is not psychoactive and is legal for use in the UK. We use it for making a range of CBD oil tinctures and pouches.
What is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)?
THC is the compound in marijuana accountable for the plant’s psychoactive effects, such as increased appetite and euphoria. While much research is currently being undertaken to understand THC’s potential health benefits alongside its potential for addiction, it is a banned substance worldwide.
Are all CBD oil products legal?
As mentioned, the legality of CBD pouches, oils, and other products depend on the safety regulations in place for the product alongside its THC content. For example, CBD oil products remain legal in the UK if they have a THC content below 0.02%, with THC a controlled substance under the UK parliament’s “Misuse of Drugs Act 1971”.
Furthermore, the CBD compound must be taken from an industrial-grade hemp strain that’s been legally approved. This ensures you’re not receiving an unsafe or inferior product.
Is CBD Safe?
People often associate CBD with the negative portrayals of marijuana. The essential thing to remember is that CBD is known to be safe. As it’s made from the hemp strain, it doesn’t produce any intoxicating effects. In addition, studies have shown that CBD has no addictive properties.
However, like grapefruit or bananas, CBD can interact with other health conditions. We recommend speaking with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re any of the following:
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Have underlying medical issues
- Current using any medications
Are there any potential side effects from CBD?
Significant research has focused on CBD’s side effects, and it remains safe for consumption. However, CBD affects us all differently, and there has been anecdotal evidence that suggests it can have some unwanted outcomes if taken in excess. These reports include:
- Changes in mood and appetite
- Feelings of anxiety or other mood changes
- Nausea and dizziness
If you’re new to CBD, we recommend starting small to find the right concentration and dosage for you.
Can you sell CBD?
Whilst almost all the cannabinoids of the cannabis plant are controlled and prohibited substances, CBD is not on this list. However, you need to be either a licensed medical distributor or offer CBD as a nutritional supplement (alternatively known as a “novel food”) to retail CBD oil in the UK. At V&YOU, we’re in this category.
CBD & Novel Foods
The novel foods regulation spans the entire CBD industry. It states that any novel food not consumed by humans before 1997 is considered as “novel”.
The European Food Standards Agency (FSA) categorised CBD as a “novel food” in February 2019. This designation means that safety studies are required for each CBD product sold to the EU to prove its safety and suitability for human consumption.
An essential part of this approval includes detailed safety studies and certificates of analysis, all of which you can read more about in Our Promise .
What are the CBD regulations in the UK?
Today, plenty of CBD products are sold in the UK. However, there are regulations guidelines for sellers to follow. They include:
- CBD and any THC content and concentrations must be labelled.
- All manufacturer details and ingredients must be clearly listed on the packaging.
- No medical or clinical claims can be made about the product.
What is the future of CBD legality in 2022?
The CBD industry opportunities are growing as the compound becomes more recognised and demand increases among the British public to try CBD products. We’ve spoken at length about why people are interested in the product (see our article here on this).
The rapid rise of CBD in the UK will likely involve more focus on regulation, and we’re enthusiastic to see a more regulated market with less fake health claims and a focus on higher-quality products that really work for people.
CBD Oil UK laws for 2022 – what Is CBD and is it legal?
After years of limited, inferior CBD products being sold in high street shops and on the internet, 2018 brought UK customers detailed laws that made the use of products infused with Cannabidiol (CBD) legal, safe, and regulated.
The legalisation of CBD products for public consumption and sale was hailed as an important milestone in the pursuit of providing healthy and natural plant-based supplements to UK customers, writes CBD RAIDERS.
Brands such as Blessed CBD have proven to be beneficial for thousands of consumers in the UK with their award winning range of CBD oils you can buy online.
However, the legislation that altered the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 to leave out CBD and other related cannabinoids as class B drugs left a great deal of grey area around the production and sale of CBD products.
In this guide, CBD RAIDERS takes a closer look at the legal status of CBD in the United Kingdom for 2022.
What is the CBD Oil UK Law?
These legal grey zones have created a lot of confusion over:
*Is CBD oil legal?
*What products can be legally sold and purchased?
*What claims can be made about CBD products?
*How can UK customers find effective CBD oils, CBD vape e-liquids, and edibles without violating the current laws?
Fortunately, we’ve gathered all the information about CBD oil UK law to help consumers understand what CBD products are legal now and what is yet to be decided.
What is CBD?
Before jumping into the laws and regulations surrounding CBD products in the UK, it is essential to understand what CBD is and how it benefits the body in its different forms.
The acronym CBD is short for Cannabidiol, one of many compounds found in cannabis and hemp plants. CBD has been shown in many research studies to have none to minimal side effects – and incredible potential benefits that work with the body’s endocannabinoid system that regulates vital functions such as:
*nausea and vomiting
*pain sensation and perception
The use of CBD has been shown to be a safe alternative to pharmaceuticals in many clinical trials. In fact, most research has shown that CBD does not have any psychoactive effects on the user.
This means that CBD products will not get you high in the traditional sense of the term, and they are safe to use for anyone, regardless of age or medical condition.
What is the difference between Hemp CBD and CBD derived from marijuana?
The cannabis plant consists of a variety of species. Each species of cannabis plant contains varying levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD, amongst other cannabinoids. For example, industrial hemp plants (Cannabis Sativa L) contain high concentrations of CBD and other cannabinoids, with virtually no levels of THC.
Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa or Indica) naturally contains high amounts of THC and relatively low levels of CBD in comparison. Also known as cannabis, this is a controlled drug in the UK.
While cannabis oil can be extracted from both plants, it’s the hemp plant that contains CBD rich oil perfect for providing the many touted health and wellness benefits associated with taking CBD products and sprays.
Cannabis oil derived from marijuana plants will be high in THC content and create the euphoria often associated with smoking, eating, or vaping marijuana. This high is what still makes it an illegal substance in the UK (except for medical cannabis) and is one of the reasons that consumers have been seeking out THC-free pure CBD products.
Different Types of CBD Oils
This is a form of CBD that includes a variety of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants except for THC. This is the most common type of CBD product found on the UK market because it has no THC, and CBD companies do not have to worry about violating laws when manufacturing and selling broad-spectrum products.
*Full Spectrum CBD
Much like broad-spectrum CBD formulas, full-spectrum CBD is also made using all parts of the plant and undergoes a solvent or CO2 extracting method to pull all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant.
However, full-spectrum CBD is different because it includes all the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant, including THC. This means there is a minimal amount of THC in every full-spectrum product, though not enough to get you high in the same way that smoking THC rich marijuana would.
A CBD isolate is a pure, crystalline powder made from the cannabinoid CBD. It is a highly concentrated form of Cannabidiol that can be used in e-liquids, oil tinctures, topical skin creams, and other CBD branded products. This pure isolate powder does not have any THC or other cannabinoids, so it can be added to almost any product without violating UK law.
What Does the CBD Oil UK Law Cover?
In 2018 the UK Parliament passed legislation legalizing certain cannabinoids, including CBD, CBDa, and CBD. However, other cannabinoids such as THC are still considered controlled substances and, therefore, not legal for public consumption.
When it comes to producing CBD oils, UK law dictates the following:
*CBD oil must be sourced from hemp grown outside of the UK
*CBD oil may contain no more than 1mg of THC per product or bottle
Hemp was chosen for its high concentrations of CBD and very low amount of THC. Because the law mandates that no product can contain more than 1mg of THC per product, it was found that limiting CBD product production to hemp plants rather than the THC-rich marijuana (cannabis Sativa) plants would allow for the safe and legal sale of CBD products.
In addition to the regulations regarding where CBD products must be sourced from and the legal limit of THC per product, additional regulations to the law include:
*CBD products are to be considered food supplements, not medicinal cannabis products
*CBD companies must submit a Novel Foods Application to the Food Standards Agency in order to sell CBD
*CBD products may not make any medical claims about their effects
*UK residents cannot grow CBD-rich hemp for personal use
*CBD flowers or buds are not legal for sale
These parts of the regulations are designed to ensure the safety and quality control of CBD products while also preventing false or misleading claims from being made about the effects of CBD.
Because CBD companies must submit a novel foods application in order to sell their products, this can be a long and expensive process. While some companies avoid the application submission and sell their products illegally, many CBD companies (such as Blessed CBD) have taken the time to submit their products for approval, and it’s essential to only purchase from a brand that has done so.
The inability to make medical claims about CBD products has made it difficult for many CBD companies to tout the benefits of their products. However, many CBD companies rely on testimonials from customers about the potential medical benefits of their CBD products when it comes to:
For a trusted CBD brand in the UK market, we recommend Blessed CBD.
What’s the difference between CBD and medicinal cannabis?
Both CBD products and medicinal products made from cannabis have significant benefits for a variety of conditions. But, unfortunately, medicinal cannabis has not been given authorisation by the healthcare products regulatory agency (FSA, NHS, MHRA) for public consumption and can only be prescribed by a medical professional for a handful of conditions.
On the other hand, CBD hemp oil products that have submitted the appropriate paperwork and are in line with UK laws regarding various cannabinoid content as well as THC levels are available for purchase by anyone in the UK. CBD products are food supplements and not medicinal cannabis and, as such, do not require the express authorisation of use by a medical professional.
Recommended Legal CBD Oils to Buy in the UK
With the understanding of what CBD oil is and how it’s regulated comes the next logical question for most readers and consumers: What’s the best legal CBD oil to buy in the UK?
While there are many reputable brands that UK customers can choose to help meet their health and wellness needs, we recommend Blessed CBD and Vibes CBD.
Blessed CBD has been an award-winning company leading the way in the UK CBD industry for many years. With awards featured in Observer, Reader’s Digest, Herald Scotland, Scotsman and Worthing Herald, this CBD company is often recognised for its commitment to creating high-quality CBD products that are safe, potent, and effective.
Using organically grown hemp sourced from the USA and Europe, Blessed CBD meticulously crafts their CBD products using a supercritical CO2 extraction method considered the best in the CBD industry.
In addition to their advanced manufacturing processes, Blessed CBD uses third-party lab testing to ensure the potency and cannabinoid mixture in each batch of CBD hemp extract that goes into making their products.
With a range of CBD oil tinctures, CBD gummies, CBD isolate capsules, and CBD creams for a variety of skincare conditions, Blessed CBD has exactly what UK residents need to get full-spectrum or THC-free broad-spectrum support for a variety of chronic and acute conditions.
To make them even more impressive, Blessed CBD products are designed to fit a variety of dietary and lifestyle needs with products that are vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, non-GMO, and cGMP certified.
While newer to the CBD market in the UK, Vibes CBD has undoubtedly earned its spot as the number two source for high-quality CBD products. With guiding principles of sustainability, trust, and transparency, this CBD company is setting a new standard for the industry as a whole.
In addition to premium hemp extracts from the finest suppliers in Europe and North America, Vibes CBD uses advanced chromatography methods to isolate only the purest cannabinoids from their plant matter. These cannabinoids are then carefully blended into base oils that can be used in a variety of products and include organic coconut and MCT (fractionated hemp) oil.
The Vibes CBD team is confident that their premium ingredients paired with manufacturing best practices makes for one of the highest quality CBD oils on the UK market today. And they’re not afraid to back it up with all their products being third-party laboratory tested for potency and cannabinoid content.
Their range of CBD oil tinctures, edible gummies, and vitamin-enriched capsules provides first-time users and avid CBD enthusiasts an excellent way to get their daily dose of CBD at affordable prices.
Be sure to check out their website to take advantage of first-time buyer discounts and fantastic monthly specials.
The Bottom Line
While the current UK CBD law may seem restrictive in some ways, in others, these regulations ensure that UK citizens have access to safe, pure, and reliable CBD products that will help meet their health and wellness needs.
As more research is released about the benefits and benign nature of CBD, public opinion may sway government officials to loosen the regulations around CBD, making it easier for UK residents to find and purchase the highest quality CBD products available.
In the meantime, UK residents can be sure that there are some excellent brands of CBD oil to choose from that offer third-party lab testing, high-quality ingredients, and a commitment to customer satisfaction.