Skip to content

Is THC Oil Legal in the UK?

THC oil has been a topic of conversation in the UK for some time now. Many people have questions about its legality and whether or not it can be used for medicinal purposes. THC oil is a type of cannabis oil that contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with marijuana use.

The legality of THC oil in the UK is a complex issue. Marijuana, including THC oil, is classified as a Class B drug in the UK, which means it is illegal to possess, sell, or distribute it. However, there are exceptions to this rule. In November 2018, the UK government legalised medical cannabis, including THC oil, for use in certain medical conditions. Despite this, access to medical cannabis is still limited and tightly regulated.

Legality of THC Oil in the UK

THC oil is a type of cannabis oil that contains the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

In the UK, cannabis is classified as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This means that it is illegal to produce, supply, or possess cannabis, including THC oil, unless it is for medicinal purposes and has been prescribed by a registered specialist doctor.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Industrial hemp can be used for things such as building materials and clothing, and can contain up to 0.2% THC. Cannabis oil can also be legally sold in the UK as a food supplement, as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC and is not advertised as a medicinal product.

It is important to note that possession of THC oil, even for medicinal purposes, can still result in legal consequences if it is not prescribed by a registered specialist doctor. Additionally, driving under the influence of THC oil is illegal and can result in a criminal conviction.

THC Legislation History

Cannabis has a long history of use in the UK for both medicinal and recreational purposes. However, its legality has been a topic of controversy and debate for many years.

In 1928, the UK government passed the Dangerous Drugs Act, which made cannabis cultivation and use illegal. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 classified cannabis as a Class B drug, which means that possession, sale, and distribution of cannabis can result in up to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

However, in recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes towards cannabis in the UK. In 2018, the government legalized the use of medical cannabis, but only in certain circumstances and under strict conditions. This move was in response to a number of high-profile cases of children with severe epilepsy who were denied access to medical cannabis.

Exemptions and Medical Use

Medical Cannabis Regulations

The use of THC oil for medical purposes is legal in the UK under certain circumstances. The regulations around medical cannabis were changed in November 2018, allowing doctors on the General Medical Council’s specialist register to prescribe cannabis-based products for medicinal use. This change in legislation was driven by a growing body of evidence supporting the medical benefits of cannabis, particularly in the management of chronic pain and spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

However, not all cannabis-based products are legal for medical use. The product must be a cannabis-based product for medicinal use (CBPM) that is regulated as a medical product, or an ingredient of a medical product. The product should satisfy three requirements: it is or contains cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol, or a cannabinol derivative; it is produced for medical use in humans; and it is a product that is regulated as a medical product, or an ingredient of a medical product.

Prescription Requirements

To prescribe cannabis-based products, doctors must follow certain procedures and guidelines. They must be on the General Medical Council’s specialist register, have experience in the field of the condition being treated, and have considered all other treatment options. The prescription must also be made by a specialist doctor, not a general practitioner. The product must be a licensed CBPM, or an unlicensed CBPM that has been assessed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and approved by the Home Office.

In addition, the prescription must include certain information, such as the name and address of the patient, the name and address of the doctor, and the dose and duration of treatment. The prescription must also be reviewed regularly to ensure that the treatment is still appropriate and effective.

Legal Consequences of Possession and Distribution

Penalties for Possession

In the UK, cannabis is classified as a Class B drug. Possession of cannabis can result in up to 5 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. The severity of the penalty depends on the amount of cannabis in possession and the circumstances surrounding the possession.

If a person is caught with cannabis for the first time, they may receive a warning or a caution. However, subsequent offenses can lead to prosecution and imprisonment.

Distribution and Manufacture Offences

Supplying or producing cannabis can lead to up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. The law applies to all forms of cannabis, including THC oil.

It is illegal to produce, supply, or offer to supply any controlled drug, including THC oil, to another person. The law also prohibits the importation and exportation of cannabis products, including THC oil.

Travelling with THC Oil

When it comes to travelling with THC oil, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid any legal issues. In the UK, THC oil is illegal to possess, supply, or produce. Therefore, it is not recommended to travel with it within the country. However, there are some exceptions for medical use, which require a prescription from a specialist doctor.

UK Border Control

If you are travelling to the UK from another country, it is important to note that border control officers have the right to search your luggage. If they find THC oil, you could face criminal charges. Therefore, it is best to avoid travelling with it or to declare it if you have a valid prescription.

International Travel Regulations

Travelling internationally with THC oil can be even more complicated. Many countries have strict laws regarding cannabis and its derivatives, including THC oil. Some countries have legalized medical cannabis, but others have not. It is important to research the laws of the country you are travelling to before bringing THC oil with you.

In some cases, you may need to apply for a special permit or license to bring medical cannabis with you. It is also important to check the amount of THC allowed in the country you are travelling to, as some countries have strict limits.

Public Perception and Debate

The public perception of THC oil in the UK is a topic of much debate. While some people believe that it should be legalised for medicinal purposes, others are concerned about the potential risks associated with its use.

According to a survey conducted by Releaf, almost 84% of respondents were aware that medical cannabis has shown to relieve a number of health conditions. However, the same survey also found that an estimated 16.5 million people still thought medical cannabis should not be legalised.

The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG) also conducted a survey on public attitudes to drugs in the UK. The survey found that views on drug reform are very entrenched, with the centre right of politics being more sceptical of drug reform than the centre left. The CDPRG exists to educate and inform the debate around drug policy reform, and is a forum where all parts of the debate can interact based on the evidence.

In line with their more critical views on the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use, the very youngest and very oldest segments of the public express the strongest support for the possession and supply of cannabis being a criminal offence, according to Redfield and Wilton Strategies.

Future Outlook and Potential Reforms

The introduction of medicinal cannabis has paved the way for further reforms in the UK. Active cannabis advocacy groups in the UK, such as the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA), the UK Cannabis Social Clubs (UKCSC), and the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, promote cannabis reform based on a variety of arguments including medicinal benefits, economic potential, and personal freedom. The increasing influence of these groups reflects a growing public sentiment in favour of cannabis legalisation.

There is also growing support for the legalisation of cannabis and THC oil among politicians in the UK. In 2023, the Liberal Democrats became the first major political party to call for the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use. Since then, other political parties have also expressed support for cannabis legalisation, including the Green Party and the Labour Party.