CBD oil, a non-intoxicating extract from the cannabis plant, has garnered increasing attention in the UK for its potential health benefits.
However, navigating the intricate legal landscape surrounding its use can be challenging.
In this post, we delve into the current legal status of CBD oil in the UK, highlighting key regulations, permissible THC levels, and guidelines for lawful consumption and purchase.
Whether you’re a consumer, healthcare professional, or simply curious about CBD oil, understanding these legal nuances is crucial in a landscape where regulations are continuously evolving.
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Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?
CBD oil in the UK is legal under specific conditions.
It must have a THC content of no more than 0.2%, ensuring it doesn’t have psychoactive effects.
The source of CBD should be from EU-approved industrial hemp or legally imported.
While selling, making medical claims about CBD oil is not allowed unless it meets MHRA standards to be classified as a medicine.
Compliance with EU Novel Food Regulations is mandatory for ingestible products, and they must be authorised in the UK.
Additionally, CBD is permissible in cosmetic products as long as they adhere to the relevant regulations.
The use of cannabis for recreational purposes, however, remains illegal in the UK.
Let’s look at these factors in more detail:
- THC Content: For CBD oil to be legal in the UK, it must contain no more than 0.2% THC. This is because THC is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
- Extraction Source: The CBD must be extracted from EU-approved industrial hemp strains or outside the EU.
- Medical Claims: Sellers of CBD oil cannot make unproven medical claims about their products. The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) has stated that CBD products can be classified as a medicine if they are intended for treatment. Still, they must meet safety, quality, and efficacy standards to get authorised.
- Novel Food Regulation: The Food Standards Agency in the UK requires businesses to apply for authorisation to sell CBD products that are ingested.
- Cosmetic Products: CBD can be used in cosmetic products if they adhere to relevant regulations.
It’s important to note that while CBD oil is legal within these parameters, the laws around cannabis and its derivatives can change, so staying updated with the latest regulations is essential.
Additionally, the use of cannabis itself for recreational purposes remains illegal in the UK.
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The Relationship between CBD and THC and UK Law
In the UK, the legal distinction between CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is crucial in understanding the regulatory landscape.
CBD, known for its potential therapeutic effects without causing a ‘high’, is legal under certain conditions.
Its legality hinges on its dissociation from THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis that is responsible for the ‘high’ sensation.
UK law permits CBD products on the condition that they contain no more than 0.2% THC.
This low threshold ensures that CBD products can’t induce psychoactive effects, aligning with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which lists THC as a controlled substance.
Therefore, while CBD itself is not listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act, products containing CBD must comply with this THC limit to be legally sold and used.
This legal framework reflects a balancing act: recognising the potential benefits of CBD, derived from the cannabis plant, while strictly regulating the psychoactive elements, primarily THC.
Consequently, the production, sale, and marketing of CBD products are closely monitored for THC content.
Products exceeding the THC threshold are deemed illegal, while those compliant are increasingly available in various forms, from oils to cosmetics.
The legal stance on CBD, contrasted with that on THC, signifies an evolving perspective on cannabis-derived products, where therapeutic use is cautiously acknowledged, and recreational use remains strictly controlled.
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In the UK, Consumable CBD is considered a Food Supplement
In the UK, consumable CBD is categorised as a food supplement.
This classification impacts how it is regulated and presented to consumers.
As a food supplement, CBD is not subjected to the stringent regulations that govern pharmaceuticals.
Instead, it falls under the oversight of food safety regulations.
This categorisation implies that CBD products intended for ingestion, such as oils, capsules, and edibles, must comply with the general safety and quality standards set for food products.
Manufacturers and sellers must ensure that their CBD products are safe for consumption, accurately labelled, and do not contain contaminants or harmful substances.
However, it’s important to note that despite being classified as a food supplement, CBD cannot be marketed with claims of treating, preventing, or curing diseases.
Such claims would imply that the product is medicinal, requiring a different set of regulatory approvals and clinical evidence.
As a food supplement, CBD products are also subject to the Novel Food Regulation by the European Union, which the UK continues to adhere to.
This regulation requires that foods or ingredients not significantly consumed in the EU before May 1997 must be evaluated and authorised before they can be marketed.
The Food Standards Agency in the UK oversees this process for CBD products, requiring businesses to submit applications demonstrating their products’ safety and content.
This framework reflects a cautious approach, allowing consumers access to CBD as a supplement while ensuring public health and safety standards are maintained.
It also highlights the evolving nature of CBD regulation as authorities balance the growing consumer interest in CBD with the need for adequate oversight and safety measures.
Related Post: How CBD oil makes you feel.
What is the Law Around Selling and Marketing CBD Oil in the UK?
The sale and marketing of CBD oil in the UK are subject to specific legal guidelines, ensuring compliance with the law and consumer safety.
Here is an overview:
- Compliance with THC Limits: Products must contain no more than 0.2% THC. This is to ensure they don’t have psychoactive effects and comply with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
- Marketing Restrictions: Companies cannot make medical claims about CBD products without the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) license. This means they can’t be advertised as having therapeutic benefits or as a treatment for specific medical conditions without proper authorisation.
- Novel Food Authorisation: If the CBD product is for ingestion, it falls under the Novel Foods category as per the Food Standards Agency. Companies must apply for authorisation to market these products, proving they are safe for consumption.
- Quality Control: Sellers must ensure their products meet quality and safety standards. This includes accurate labelling, particularly concerning the product’s CBD and THC content, and ensuring that the product is free from harmful substances.
- Age Restrictions: CBD product sales are typically restricted to individuals 18 or older.
- Advertising Standards: All marketing and advertising must adhere to the UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines, which mandate honesty and responsibility in advertising.
- Legal Source of CBD: The CBD should be derived from an industrial hemp strain that is legally grown and contains low levels of THC.
These regulations are designed to protect consumers, ensure product safety, and maintain the legal integrity of the CBD market in the UK.
As the industry grows and evolves, these regulations may also change, so sellers and marketers must stay informed about the current legal landscape.
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Related Post: Do You Need a License to Sell CBD Oil in the UK?
Travelling and Driving with CBD in the United Kingdom
Considering that CBD is legal in the UK, driving and travelling domestically with some CBD on you is perfectly okay.
CBD has no psychoactive effects. Therefore, it wouldn’t lessen your driving ability, so you can’t get into trouble for driving after consuming it.
Because everyone responds differently to things and some people are hypersensitive, you must ensure you feel fit and well before driving.
CBD is legal in a lot of places around the world. However, it is also still illegal in some countries.
Regarding international travel, you need to determine whether CBD is legal in the country you are travelling to.
Also, if you have any connecting flights, check with the country you’re passing through, just in case.
Related Post: Is Full Spectrum CBD Legal in the UK?
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Final Notes on CBD Oil and the Law in the United Kingdom
Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is legal in the UK as long as it does not have more than 0.2% THC.
CBD must also meet food standards to ensure it is safe for consumption.
It is not illegal to consume, possess or travel with CBD.
You can fly with it, but you must be careful when travelling to other countries to check the legal status in both the stopover and destination locations.
Related Post: How To Become a CBD Distributor in the United Kingdom.