CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has gained a lot of attention in recent years due to its potential health benefits. However, with the legal status of cannabis being a hotly debated topic, many people are left wondering whether or not CBD is legal in the UK.
The short answer is yes, CBD is legal in the UK, but there are some important caveats to keep in mind. CBD products are legal as long as they contain less than 0.2% THC, which is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces a “high”. Additionally, the product must be derived from an industrial hemp strain that is EU-approved, and it cannot be marketed as a medicine without the necessary regulatory approvals.
While the legal status of CBD in the UK may seem straightforward, there is still some confusion and misinformation surrounding the topic. In this article, we will take a closer look at the current laws and regulations surrounding CBD in the UK, as well as some of the potential benefits and risks associated with its use.
Legality of CBD in the UK
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating extract from the cannabis plant that is legal in the UK if it meets specific criteria. In the UK, CBD is not considered a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, but it is regulated as a food supplement under the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
According to the FSA, companies that sell CBD products must apply for Novel Food Authorisation, which is a safety assessment that ensures the product is safe for consumption. Furthermore, companies must not make any medical claims about their CBD products, as it is not classified as a medicine.
It is important to note that while CBD is legal in the UK, other cannabinoids, such as THC, are not. THC is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that causes a high and is classified as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Therefore, any CBD products that contain THC above the legal limit of 0.2% are considered illegal in the UK.
Consumers should also be aware that some CBD products may be subject to additional regulations. For example, some edible CBD products are classified as “novel foods” and require special authorisation to be sold legally.
Regulations Governing CBD Products
CBD products are regulated in the UK by three governing bodies, namely, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Food Standards Agency (FSA), and the Home Office. These bodies ensure that CBD products are safe for consumption and are manufactured and sold in compliance with the law.
THC Content Restrictions
CBD products must contain less than 0.2% THC to be legal in the UK. This restriction is in line with the European Union’s (EU) regulations on the THC content of hemp-derived CBD products. Any CBD product that contains more than 0.2% THC is considered a controlled substance and is illegal to sell or possess.
Cosmetic Product Regulations
CBD is also regulated as a cosmetic product in the UK. The Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2021 require that all cosmetic products, including those containing CBD, must be safe for human use. The regulations also require that cosmetic products are correctly labelled, and the ingredients are listed in descending order of weight.
CBD for Medicinal Purposes
CBD has been found to have potential therapeutic benefits for a variety of medical conditions, including epilepsy, anxiety, chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis. In the UK, CBD products that are intended for medicinal use must be licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before they can be legally supplied.
In order to obtain a prescription for a CBD medication, patients in the UK must have a qualifying medical condition and have exhausted all other treatment options. The prescribing doctor must also be a specialist in the relevant medical field.
Patients who are prescribed a CBD medication will need to have regular follow-up appointments with their doctor to monitor their progress and ensure that the medication is working effectively.
Currently, the only CBD medication that is licensed for use in the UK is Sativex, which is used to treat spasticity in multiple sclerosis patients. Sativex is a combination of CBD and THC, and is administered as an oral spray.
Other CBD medications are currently being developed and tested, and may become available in the UK in the future. However, it is important to note that not all CBD products are suitable for medicinal use, and patients should only use products that have been specifically licensed for their condition.
Overall, while CBD has shown promise as a potential treatment for a variety of medical conditions, patients should always consult with their doctor before using any CBD products for medicinal purposes.
Enforcement and Compliance
CBD products are legal in the UK, provided they meet certain requirements. The enforcement of these requirements is carried out by various government agencies, including the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Compliance with UK law and the guidelines set by these governing bodies is essential for selling and importing CBD products into the United Kingdom. Some CBD products on the British high street aren’t always authorised. As an individual, you must always purchase from a reputable website, pharmacy, or store to ensure full legality and safety.
The FSA has issued updated precautionary advice on CBD, which recommended that “healthy adults should limit their consumption of CBD from food supplements to no more than 10mg a day”. This advice is based on the current lack of data on the long-term effects of CBD consumption and is not a legal requirement.
The MHRA regulates medicines and medical devices in the UK. CBD products that are intended for medicinal purposes are subject to the same regulatory requirements as other medicines. This means that they must be licensed by the MHRA before they can be sold or supplied.
In addition to the FSA and the MHRA, the Home Office also plays a role in the enforcement of CBD regulations in the UK. The Home Office is responsible for the control of drugs and works closely with other government agencies to ensure that CBD products comply with UK law.
Future Outlook on CBD Legislation
The future of CBD legislation in the UK is uncertain, but there are several factors that could influence its direction. The government has shown a willingness to listen to expert advice and respond to recommendations, as seen in the response to the expert committee on consumer CBD products. This suggests that future legislation could be informed by scientific evidence and expert opinion.
Another factor that could influence future CBD legislation is the ongoing debate around the legal status of low-THC hemp flower. The recent ground-breaking court ruling that hemp flower with a THC content below 0.2% should not be considered a narcotic drug could set a new legal precedent for the CBD industry. This could lead to changes in the way CBD products are regulated and sold in the UK.
However, it is important to note that the UK law on CBD is still considered by some to be confusing and in need of clarification. CBD suppliers have criticised the law for leaving some products in a legal grey area. It remains to be seen whether the government will take steps to address these concerns and provide greater clarity on the legal status of CBD products.