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Is CBD Legal in the UK?

In Health
October 26, 2021
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There’s a reason why the global CBD market is worth an estimated $2.8 billion. More people across the world are discovering the wellness benefits that accompany this natural substance.

Unfortunately, many people are still confused about whether or not CBD is even legal. This is because it’s tied to cannabis, which has traditionally been an illegal substance.

So, to help clear things up, in this article we’ll provide a variety of legal info on the status of CBD in the UK. That way, if you’re interested in trying it, you can do so in a way that’s both legal and safe. Let’s get started!

What is CBD?

Before we begin it’s important to first understand exactly what CBD is and how it differs from other types of cannabinoids. CBD is a cannabinoid that’s found in high amounts within the cannabis plant hemp.

Now, when many people hear the word cannabis they instantly think of getting high. However, the substance that’s responsible for that high sensation is another type of cannabinoid known as THC.

The reality is that there are hundreds of different cannabinoids out there, each with its specific benefits. That brings us back to the hemp plant. While CBD and other cannabinoids are found in high concentrations in the hemp plant, THC isn’t.

As such, manufacturers can use these hemp plants to extract CBD that provides some health benefits without the high sensation.

Is CBD Legal in the UK?

The good news is that CBD is legal in the UK. A few years ago the country took it off the controlled substance list. This is because CBD doesn’t get you to come with any mind-altering effects.

This means that they have no grounds to restrict its legality. As such, CBD can be purchased over-the-counter at a variety of different locations. However, to be legal some stipulations come with CBD in the UK.

The first two stipulations have to do with THC content. Remember, THC is the active compound found in cannabis that provides the psychoactive high feeling. To be legal a CBD must contain less than one milligram of THC per container.

In addition to this, products can only come from industrial hemp. Industrial hemp, by definition, has less than .02% of THC found in it. Finally, any manufacturer of a CBD product must apply for a novelty food authorization.

This can be attained through the UK Food Standards Agency. These stipulations have made it difficult for many manufacturers to provide CBD products. As such, we can expect some legislation changes in the coming years.

THC Limits in CBD Products

As we mentioned above, the government is strict on any product that contains THC. This is because the cannabinoid falls under the controlled substance list.

But, while it’s easy to find hemp that contains less than .02% of THC, the same isn’t true for making products with less than one milligram of THC. See, even with industrial hemp there’s usually a lot more than one milligram of THC found in it.

This means that companies need to further refine their products before they can introduce them to the UK market. This, in turn, makes the products more expensive and (if the entourage effect is to be believed) less effective.

And, it doesn’t end there. On top of this, manufacturers are required to get their products tested to make sure that there’s less than one milligram of THC found in it.

Unfortunately, there’s no official testing system in place. Instead, manufacturers need to get them tested through third-party testers. This is not only more expensive, but it can also come with mixed accuracy results.

As such, if the UK government wants to get serious about THC testing in CBD products, then they’ll need a more objective and centralized testing system.

CBD Is Still a Novel Food

It’s important to remember that in February of 2021 the UK government announced that it would be treating CBD as a novel food. What’s a novel food? It’s an authorization laid out by the European Union on a portion of new food.

This new food hasn’t been consumed by enough people to guarantee that it’s safe. As such, it needs to be regulated to make sure that anyone who uses it is safe.

This legal change means that manufacturers need to jump through another hurdle to sell their products. They must submit applications to sell any product that contains CBD.

This is unfortunate for CBD manufacturers because it’s yet another cost they need to shoulder. This, in turn, is stifling the market for new products. However, it’s good in the sense that it guarantees that each product accurately reports the amount of CBD that’s found in it.

Is CBD Flower Legal in the UK?

CBD flower refers to dried bud that’s taken from hemp plants. This flower contains high amounts of CBD and little to no THC. As such, it’s one of the more economic and effective ways to get CBD into your system.

However, is CBD flower also legal in the UK? Sadly, the answer is no. This is thanks to the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act. This act states that any flower, whether it belongs to marijuana or hemp, is illegal.

As such, you can’t grow, sell or consume it. This is unfortunate because it’s entirely related to an archaic law that misunderstands the difference between marijuana and hemp.

But, the rules are the rules. As such, if you want to consume CBD in the UK, then you’ll need to stick to things like tinctures, edibles, and topicals.

Can You Grow Hemp For CBD Extraction in the UK?

You can grow hemp if you obtain the proper licensing from the UK Home Office. However, there’s a major stipulation. As we mentioned in the last section, you can’t grow hemp to consume its flowers, the part of the plant that contains high amounts of CBD.

Instead, all you can use the hemp for is fiber or seed. And, sadly, the seeds contain little to no cannabinoids. If you grow hemp, then the UK requires you to destroy and dispose of any flowers that come along with them.

It’s for this reason that most manufacturers source their hemp from growers outside of the UK. While this law was intended to stop the production of marijuana for recreational use it’s having a damaging effect on the UK CBD market.

Hopefully, in the coming years, we’ll see some more serious legislation changes that treat hemp flowers like the non-intoxicating products that they are.

Is It Illegal to Drive While Using CBD?

As we mentioned, CBD is a nonpsychoactive substance. As such, it’s perfectly legal to drive after taking it. However, you should make sure that there are no trace amounts of THC in the product.

Otherwise, this can impair your ability to operate a vehicle. Also, make sure to gauge how your body reacts to CBD before driving. For some people, CBD makes them more sleepy.

If you fall in this category, then it could be potentially dangerous to operate a vehicle under the influence of it. Make sure to check out this article if you have any more questions about CBD oil and driving.

Marketing Regulations Around CBD in the UK

While more research is needed, early studies suggest that CBD might be effective at treating a variety of conditions, from pain to epilepsy. However, despite this early evidence companies in the UK cannot make any medical claims about their products.

This is thanks to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency. Since the agency treats CBD as a food supplement, it stipulates that food supplements cannot be used to treat medical conditions.

As such, you should avoid companies that claim their products can cure cancer or similar outlandish claims. This is a clear indicator that the business isn’t offering a regulated product. Because of this, you’re likely getting a subpar product that contains little to no CBD.

Enjoy Learning About CBD Legal Info? Keep Reading

We hope this article helped teach you about some of the legal info surrounding CBD. As you can see, the outdated laws surrounding hemp have made the legal status of CBD a bit complicated. However, as of the time of this article, it is legal.

And, with any luck, we can expect it to continue becoming more widely available and accepted, both at home and internationally. But in order to do this, there will need to be major legislative changes in the coming years.

Did you enjoy this article? If the answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. Keep exploring to find more topics that you’re sure to love.