Is CBD Oil Legal in the UK?
Despite the growing popularity of CBD, there are still some misconceptions that surround CBD products. Among them is whether it is legal in the UK. If you’re thinking about giving CBD products a try, the legality and safety of the products you purchase are a priority. Lucky for you, the laws and regulations surrounding CBD have come a long way.
CBD Legalisation in the UK
CBD and CBD products are legal in the UK. However, the products have to meet specific criteria to be lawfully available for consumption. Unfortunately, because the regulation of CBD or CBD products isn't airtight, there are high street products in the market that aren't properly authorised, don't meet the legal criteria, and therefore are not legal.
When you're looking to buy CBD products, you should only buy them from reputable sellers and online stores that only sell products that adhere to legal and safety guidelines set by the UK government.
For CBD oil to be legal in the UK, it should only contain trace amounts of THC. The maximum legal limit for THC content in CBD oil is 0.2%. Anything above this means the CBD oil can’t be legally sold in the UK.
When Was CBD Oil Made Legal in the UK?
Over the past few years, there have been several highlights for CBD legalisation. The latest was in 2016 when the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) stated that products containing CBD could be classed as medicine if they were used for medicinal purposes. However, most CBD products are still sold as a food supplement.
For CBD oil to be supplied and sold as medicine, the CBD products must have a license. Procuring the license ensures that the CBD oil meets the necessary quality, efficacy and safety standards to ensure the products are safe for people to use as medicine.
Just like other types of medicines, there are instances where CBD oil, even though legal, is not recommended to use, like in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. It is also not recommended to take CBD while you're still under other types of medication. Before taking CBD, you should consult with your doctor, especially when taking it as medicine.
Can I Take CBD Oil in the UK?
The UK supplements market is buzzing with CBD products and brands. There are hundreds of options that you can safely and legally use in the UK. These include CBD oils sold as tinctures, sprays, or capsules, to name a few.
The only requirement is that these products meet the standards set by the MHRA. Although CBD is well-tolerated in the body with no cases of overdose, the Food Standard Agency recommends that you take no more than 70mg a day unless your doctor advises otherwise. But this is not a legal requirement for CBD oil users.
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There is a lot of confusion surrounding CBD and, consequently, CBD oil. To understand the legality of CBD oil, it's best to start by understanding what CBD is.
CBD is a naturally occurring chemical called a cannabinoid found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. There are two varieties of the plant. They differ depending on their chemical compound composition;
- Hemp – This is a variety of the cannabis plant that contains minimal amounts (0.2% or less) of THC. The low composition of THC makes hemp safe for commercial use. The hemp plant has multiple uses, and the extraction of the CBD compound is one of them.
- Marijuana – The second variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant is marijuana. It contains significantly higher amounts of THC and has intoxicating effects, creating a high. This variant of the cannabis sativa plant is illegal in the UK.
Although CBD and THC are cannabinoids and are found in the same plant, CBD doesn't produce any euphoric effects or make you high. This is the main reason why it is legal in the UK and THC is not.
CBD Oil Laws in the UK
The laws regulating CBD are fairly simple – on the surface. When you dig a little deeper, you find more details. However, they can be summarised as follows;
- CBD is legal in the UK as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC. This is because THC is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
- The CBD oil should be processed from CBD that has been derived from industrial hemp strains approved by the UK.
Other regulations surrounding CBD oil include:
- CBD producers should have a license from the UK Home Office
- You must be a licensed medical distributor to sell CBD oil as medicine, or you can sell the product as a nutritional supplement.
- CBD oil must be properly labelled in accordance with the FSA regulations of 2003.
- CBD cosmetic products must be accompanied by a Cosmetic Product Safety Report
Even among CBD lovers that understand that CBD is legal in the UK, there is still some confusion surrounding the classification of CBD products. There are two primary categories, and each has its own regulations.
CBD is a Novelty Food
Novel foods are foods that were not available in the UK or EU before May 1997. Such foods don't have a history of consumption, and therefore, the Foods Standard Agency has the mandate to ensure they are safe to eat and drink.
Novel foods in the UK include;
- Probiotic bacteria in yogurt
- Chia seeds and other foods are eaten worldwide but not in the UK or EU.
- Foods made using new processes like UVC treated milk.
As of 31st of March 2021, businesses selling CBD in the UK would be required to submit a valid application before continuing to sell the products. Under the Novel Food License, the CBD oil sold must;
- Be safe for human consumption
- Have the proper warning labels regarding any possible risks associated with ingestion
- Be compliant with the provisions of the law regarding the product
- Not mislead consumers about its health effects
Is CBD Oil the Same as Medical Cannabis?
CBD oil is very different from medical cannabis. For instance, most of the medical cannabis products in the UK have a significantly higher level of THC. The legal, medical cannabis products in the UK have undergone extreme clinical trials before approval.
Also, medical cannabis products are only available with a prescription, and it is rare for doctors in the UK to prescribe these products. On the other hand, you don’t need a prescription to buy CBD oil. But you might consult with your doctor.
CBD oil isn’t restricted in the same way that medical cannabis products like Sativex are. However, for CBD oil to be legal, it must adhere to all the legal requirements.
Travelling and Driving with CBD Oil
Because CBD is legal in the UK, you should be able to take it on domestic flights. But, because there are still a lot of myths and confusion surrounding CBD oil and other CBD products, it’s better to contact the flight provider to confirm. You might also need to check the hand luggage guidance before getting on the plane with your CBD oil.
Also, because CBD is classified as a liquid, it will be subject to the 100ml liquid rule for hand language. If you’re travelling internationally, check the CBD laws for the country you’re travelling to and the terms of the airline.
Why not also read: Can you fly with CBD oil?
You should be safe to drive after taking CBD because it doesn't have any psychoactive effects, and it won't get you high. But before taking your CBD oil, read the packaging carefully, so you're aware of what to expect.
The Bottom Line
CBD oil is legal in the UK as long as you purchase it from a reputable seller who ensures the product meets the standards and requirements set by the MHRA.