Learn about CBD Oil and the types of CBD products for sale in 2022 under UK laws in our guide. This article covers the key questions on the legal status of CBD (Cannabidiol) and how this affects its commercialisation and use in the UK.
CBD Ban — CBD Oil Is it Legal in the UK?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is an active component naturally found in cannabis plants. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active psychoactive ingredient in cannabis , CBD does not make you high. CBD oil is manufactured by mixing CBD with a natural carrier oil. During the manufacturing process, the percentage of CBD that is contained in CBD oil and products is required by law.
Is CBD Oil Legalised in the UK?
Many people are now asking, is CBD oil legalised in the UK? The answer is yes; CBD products can still be legally bought in the UK in 2022.
The confusion about the legal status of CBD products is due to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) statement. The FSA set out new regulations for CBD products on 13th February 2020. This meant companies had until 31st March 2021 to submit a novel- food application to be able to continue selling CBD products in the UK.
CBD products from the US and other countries that do not prohibit cannabinoids may be illegal in the UK. Ingredients in CBD products such as delta-8/9 THC can result in customs seizing important CBD products. When purchasing CBD products from outside of the UK, it is important to check the ingredients first to avoid any problems with UK customs.
CBD Oil Effects
CBD oil has various benefits and has gained popularity as an alternative health-food supplement that may help with certain medical conditions. CBD oil works by changing the way the brain perceives pain signals from the body, thus reducing pain — and unlike many prescription drugs, CBD oil does not have strong side effects.
Research into CBD has indicated it helps alleviate chronic pain and a range of other conditions such as epilepsy and digestive disorders . The effects of CBD oil and products have also been studied for the use of CBD in the treatment of anxiety , depression, and other mental health disorders.
People with common complaints such as backache and arthritis may find CBD oil particularly helpful for their symptoms, as it has been indicated that CBD oil has powerful anti-inflammatory properties .
Video: CBD – Miracle Cure or Hype?
NB: The Lighthouse is not responsible for content or opinions that aren’t our own.
CBD Oil With Other Medications
CBD is still legal in the UK, and research has shown that products containing CBD are well tolerated and are not psychoactive. CBD oil is generally considered very safe for most people. However, CBD can interact with prescription medicine , other supplements and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines.
If you are on any prescription medication or regularly take supplements or OTC medications, such as painkillers, you should discuss the safety of using CBD products with your doctor. THC is the reason some people experience side effects from CBD oil and products. In the rare case that you cannot tolerate THC, alternative cannabinoids, including CBDa, are available, which do not contain THC.
Is CBD Oil Safe When Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
The FSA has advised, due to a lack of research not to use CBD oil or products when pregnant or breastfeeding . Although it is unlikely to cause any adverse effects, it is recommended to abstain from CBD oil and products while pregnant or when breastfeeding.
Can You Use CBD Oil When Drinking Alcohol?
Research on the effects of using CBD and drinking alcohol is very limited. Current studies indicate alcohol may amplify the effects of alcohol. How severe the side effects are will depend on various factors. These include how much alcohol is consumed and, the THC percentage in the CBD product.
Side effects of alcohol and CBD may include:
- Feeling ‘drunk’ faster
- Impaired coordination
- Lack of inhibition
- Nausea and vomiting
CBD and Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Studies regarding treatment for alcohol addiction with CBD are promising. CBD may have a use for reducing cravings for alcohol during addiction treatments but to date, all research is based on animal studies.
What Are the Different Types of CBD?
Before purchasing a product containing CBD, it is important to understand the different types of CBD sold in the UK.
The three types of CBD are:
is pure CBD containing no other cannabinoids and comes in either a crystalline solid or a loose powder. contains cannabinoids and extracts, such as terpenes from the cannabis plant. contains several cannabinoids but does not contain THC and is available in the same range of products as full-spectrum CBD.
Products with CBD that are legal to sell, buy and possess in the UK can only contain a maximum of 1mg of THC. This minimal-trace amount of the psychoactive ingredient means that CBD-positive properties can be provided without the psychoactive effects associated with cannabis, weed, and skunk.
Full and broad-spectrum CBD is available in a wide range of products, including:
- CBD capsules containing CBD oil
- CBD topicals, which come in the form of creams, balms, and gels for external application
- CBD vapes. CBD vape oil in e-liquids come in different flavours and is designed to be used in a vape device
- CBD edibles, including CBD gummies, chocolate, and drinks.
The general consensus is that CBD oil and CBD products may help relieve the symptoms of various medical conditions and are not addictive.
We can offer free advice on supporting and treating addiction . Step by Step Recovery exists to help individuals beat drug addiction permanently. Please complete our online assessment form to learn more about our bespoke rehab-treatment programmes. Alternatively, please call our understanding team on 0800 170 1222 for more information about our private outpatient rehab and inpatient or residential rehab for drug addiction .
CBD, is it legal in the UK?
When buying cannabidiol (CBD), it is essential to know that the product you’ve chosen is legal in the UK. There are a number of rules and regulations in place meaning that some products are legal and some are not. Whilst others may be, depending on how they have been produced.
We spoke with Robert Jappie, partner at London law firm Ince who specialises in cannabis regulation in the UK and Europe. We wanted to gain the benefits of his expertise and share it here. Our first question was, is CBD legal? He said:
“It is absolutely legal. Whether it be ingestibles, vapes or cosmetics… there is strict regulatory requirements in place to ensure that only quality products are sold to consumers.”
These requirements include the 3 criteria for exemption, as set out by the MDR (Medical Device Regulations). Some product types also require Novel Food authorisation from the Food Standards Agency.
CBD legality: fast facts
- CBD is legal to buy and sell in the UK. This includes all of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- CBD cannot legally be sold in the form of hemp flowers.
- Oils, gummies, capsules and other edibles require Novel Foods authorisation from the FSA to be legally sold as of 2021.
- CBD cannot be marketed and sold for pets in the UK as it is considered a medicine by the VMD.
- Full-spectrum CBD products are legal if they contain less than 1mg of THC and have Novel Foods authorisation.
- CBD can be prescribed by the NHS in rare cases.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid that has been extracted from the cannabis plant. The main rules and guidelines for CBD are the same as cannabis. Cannabis is illegal to grow, buy, sell and possess, according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
However, due to its non-intoxicating nature, there are various exemptions so that safe effective food supplements containing CBD can be sold.
Criteria for CBD to be legal
When viewing CBD products online it is easy to get the impression that the legality of each product depends only on it having low levels of THC. The reality is more complicated. To be legal in the UK CBD products must meet the following criteria:
- CBD cannot be sold as a medicine.
- The container must include less than 1mg of THC, THCV or CBN.
- The product must not be packaged in a way that makes it easy to separate the controlled cannabinoids (THC, THCV and CBN).
- CBD capsules, gummies, oils, pastes and other edibles must receive Novel Foods authorisation.
Note: Novel Foods does not apply to CBD vape juices, hemp tea or cosmetic products such as CBD balms and creams.
1. CBD cannot be sold as a medicine
CBD supplements have not been subject to the scrutiny and testing required for a UK medicine. As a result they must not be sold or promoted as having medicinal benefits.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) made this clear in a statement released October 2016:
“Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine. Medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt.”
The CBD sold here and in other UK shops is provided as a food supplement only. No medical benefits can be inferred and to do so breaks the law.
2. Less than 1mg of controlled cannabinoids
CBD is legal if it contains less than 1mg of THC, THCV and CBN in the final preparation as per part C of regulation 2:
“[N]o one component part of the product or preparation contains more than one milligram of the controlled drug”
There is a good chance you have seen mentions of products being legal because they contain less than 0.2% THC. This is wrong, 0.2% is not a classification of a legal product but a guideline relating to which hemp varieties can be used by licensed commercial growers.
The Home Office factsheet clearly states:
“The ‘0.2%’ reference is used solely to identify varieties which may potentially be cultivated. (2019)”
3. THC must not easily separate from the oil
A CBD product must not become a source for others to extract the THC (or any other controlled cannabinoids such as THCV and CBN). The Home Office states that in order to be exempt from the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001:
“[T]he controlled drug in any component part [must be] packaged in such a form, or in combination with other active or inert substances in such a manner, that it cannot be recovered by readily applicable means or in a yield which constitutes a risk to health.”
4. Novel Foods authorisation
EU novel food regulations require all foods without a significant history of consumption before May 1997 to be classified as ‘novel foods’. In January 2019, the European Commission declared that they had not received enough of the required evidence and updated the Novel Food Catalogue to include CBD products.
The UK Food Standards Agency was advised that CBD food supplements shouldn’t be sold unless they have been officially evaluated and permitted. As a result, on February 13, 2020, the FSA set a deadline for all CBD food supplements on sale in the UK to be authorised under the Novel Food regulations.
“After 31 March next year (2021), only products which have submitted a valid application will be allowed to remain on the market. The authorisation process ensures novel foods meet legal standards, including on [its] safety and content.”
Whilst these new rules are restrictive, it is believed that they will ensure any products available in the UK will be best in class. Robert Jappie was keen to point this out:
“With the introduction of the Novel Food regime, CBD compliance is now a serious business. Novel Food is the global benchmark for food safety, so UK CBD products can now be said to be the safest in the world.”
The FSA took much longer to process these applications than first anticipated. In June 2022, they finally published a revised list of products that can remain on sale either permanently or whilst further information is sought.
There are currently around 11,000 products on this list, anything that is not included here should now be removed from the shelves, except those products that are exempt such as e-liquids, balms and hemp tea.