Are CBD and hemp legal in the UK?
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.
References in Article
- NHS, Medcial Cannabis and CBD Oils https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/medical-cannabis/ Published: October 2019
- MHRA:CBD report. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mhra-statement-on-products-containing-cannabidiol-cbd Created: October 2019
- Home Office: Factsheet Cannabis, CBD & Cannabinoids. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/825872/factsheet-cannabis-cbd-and-cannabinoids-2019.pdf
- CMC: Report CBD in the UK – Executive Summary https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/51b75a3b/files/uploaded/Report%20%7C%20CBD%20in%20the%20UK%20-%20Exec%20Summary.pdf. Created 19 June 2019
- World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/alcohol-drugs-and-addictive-behaviours/drugs-psychoactive/cannabis.
- Harvard Health Publishing: CBD and Other Medications. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cbd-and-other-medications-proceed-with-caution-2021011121743. Katsiaryna Bykov, PharmD, ScD, Published: 11 January 2021
- Business Matters: CBD Oil UK Law - The latest https://www.bmmagazine.co.uk/business/cbd-oil-uk-law-the-latest-news/. Published: 22 July 2018.
- Open Access Government: CBD in the UK https://www.openaccessgovernment.org/cbd-in-the-uk/94683/ Created: 21 September 2020
- European Commission: Novel food & Food Safety. https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/novel_food_en. Created: 17 October 2016.
- BBC: What are the rules surrounding CBD oil in the UK? https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44534861 Created: July 2018