Well, here is the burning question on everyone’s minds: Is CBD oil still legal in the UK in 2023? You might think you’re about to step into a legal battle akin to a high-stakes game of Monopoly, but fear not, dear reader. We’re here to clear the haze and shed some light on the laws surrounding CBD oil in the UK.
CBD oil has certainly made its mark in the wellness world, with many touting its potential benefits. But with its rising popularity comes a cloud of confusion regarding its legality. From the shelves of holistic health stores to the medicine cabinets of many, the demand for CBD oil has skyrocketed. But amidst the buzz, the question remains: can we still get our hands on this golden elixir in the UK without breaking any laws?
So, sit back because we’re about to dive right into the murky waters of the UK legal system and supply you with the answers surrounding CBD oil legality in the UK. We’ll be exploring the ins and outs of the current laws and regulations, clearing up any confusion that may be lingering in the air.
But fear not, we won’t leave you high and dry. By the end of this article, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to navigate the ever-changing landscape of CBD oil legality in the UK. So sit tight, grab a cup of your favourite brew, and let’s unravel the mystery of CBD oil laws in 2023.
What is CBD Oil UK?
It never hurts to have a quick recap!
A Brief CBD UK History Lesson
Never before in history has a product gained such attention and pushed the boundaries of the UK legal system and structure as CBD oil has. The timing in which CBD oil gained notoriety was also a historic period, just before the COVID-19 pandemic and legally enforced lockdown within the UK to contain the outbreak. Due to this period of high anxiety, increased stress, and reduced sleep, many looked for a natural way to help ease their concerns.
Due to the Farm Bill by the Trump administration being passed which legalised industrial hemp production on a wider scale, the CBD oil market globally sprang into action. Before we knew it, CBD oil was everywhere. As lockdown was slowly unlocked across the UK, the use of CBD oil remained and still does remain high. Many people use it as a staple in their wellness routines for many reasons, such as pain, sleep, anxiety and more potential benefits.
CBD Oil UK, what is it?
CBD Oil is the oil that is processed (which can by a few different methods) from the hemp plant, which is a cousin of the marijuana plant, both of which stem (pun intended) from the cannabis sativa plant. Think of it as hemp went left, marijuana went right at the junction of genetic composition.
CBD oil is non-psychoactive (it won’t make you feel spacey) when it is derived from hemp, which all legal CBD oil is generally processed from. Marijuana, on the other hand, has been bred over time to produce a high concentration of THC, which is the cannabinoid that makes you ‘high‘. CBD, on the other hand, actually has the reverse effect and can bring you back down to earth, as well as having well-known health benefits for humans.
These health benefits are from the CBD oil travelling through the endocannabinoid system we each have in our bodies (yes, we all have a special system just to process cannabinoids, cool, right?), which has now been discovered to have a relationship with our central nervous system.
CBD oil is best taken sublingually, under the tongue, because of its delicate natural composition; taking it via this method avoids the first pass effect, which in pharmacology terms is where the stomach or liver breaks down a large amount of the compound before it can be effective in our bodies. Natural compounds are more delicate on average than chemical compounds, so they end up with a reduced bioavailability due to this process if not taken sublingually, which gets the CBD oil straight into our bloodstreams where it can get to work.
The important difference between CBD and THC
Let’s break is down simply:
- CBD oil isn’t going to get you high, in fact, it can help bring you back down from a high. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that is responsible for making you high or giving you a spacey feeling when consumed or inhaled.
- CBD oil is not psychoactive, whereas THC oil is psychoactive.
- CBD oil is legal in the UK. THC oil is illegal in the UK.
- CBD oil comes from the hemp strain from the cannabis plant family. THC oil comes from the marijuana strain from the cannabis plant family.
They are totally different cannabinoids.
The CBD Oil Market in the UK
Due to the perfect conditions that CBD oil hit the marketplace, the CBD market has been very buoyant for many years. But this opened the door to many fake CBD companies that were selling, and some that still are very inferior CBD formulas. The first wave of CBD oil tinctures were mainly made from a very pure CBD isolate, which has been over-processed to leave only the CBD cannabinoid and has removed all other cannabinoids in the process. We now know, thanks to science, that CBD isolate is not very effective, as CBD needs some of the other cannabinoids in smaller amounts to be its most beneficial; this is called the entourage effect.
Full-spectrum CBD gained popularity, which has all of the cannabinoids in it, but quickly brands using full spectrum CBD ended up being outside of the legal requirements and had more than 0.2% THC content as it is very hard to control the levels in a natural CBD oil. Broad-spectrum CBD oil is widely considered the safest and most effective CBD oil type, which has all of the cannabinoids of full-spectrum CBD but has had the THC cannabinoid removed almost completely. We here at The London Dispensary only use broad-spectrum CBD oil in our products.
Laws around CBD Oil (cannabinol oil), Hemp Oil and Cannabis Oil in the UK
In the UK, laws around CBD oil, hemp oil, and cannabis oil are quite strict and regulated. CBD oil, which is derived from the hemp plant, is legal in the UK as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis that is responsible for the “high” sensation. Hemp oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, is also legal and widely available. However, cannabis oil, which is derived from the cannabis plant and contains higher levels of THC, is illegal in the UK. It is classified as a Class B drug and possession, production, and distribution of cannabis oil is a criminal offence.
The UK government has also approved certain medical cannabis products for use in specific medical conditions, but these are tightly regulated and can only be prescribed by a specialist doctor. Overall, the laws around CBD oil, hemp oil, and cannabis oil in the UK aim to control and monitor the use of these products to ensure public safety and prevent misuse.
What is the difference between CBD oil, Hemp oil and Cannabis Oil?
Ok, let’s have a quick run down!
From the hemp plant, which is a strain that has branched (pun intended) off from the cannabis sativa plant. It is legal to buy in the UK, with studies now stating the health benefits of CBD. You can find CBD in a range of CBD products, but CBD oil remains the most popular and the most effective generally in the UK market. It is not psychoactive, so it will not get you high. It comes largely from the hemp flower, which cannot be pollinated by the males, or it will lose a lot of its potency.
Sadly, again, to the complex and sometimes illogical UK legal system, hemp grown industrially in the UK under a Home Office license cannot use the flower part of the plant and must destroy it, so the UK CBD industry has to import its CBD oil for sale in the UK rather than using our local British grown hemp. Crazy right?
Hemp oil is legal, but it is not CBD oil; it comes from the hemp seed and is created by pressing the seeds of the hemp plant to produce an oil. It contains little to no CBD. But it does do wonders for skin and hair, being rich in good fats that moisturise! It can be a bit confusing when you see hemp-derived CBD oil, as some people think that means it is the inferior hemp seed oil, but generally, it’s not; it just makes it clear it is CBD oil from a legal source.
AKA THC oil or marijuana oil, this is illegal in the UK and is created from the marijuana side of the cannabis sativa family. It is psychoactive, so it’s designed and created to get you high.
Phew, ok, are you keeping up?
So, is CBD Oil legal in the UK?
In short, yes, CBD oil is legal in the UK; in general, all CBD is legal as long as it’s under the 0.2% THC threshold. However, it does need to follow a number of different laws, regulations, guidelines and legislation. CBD oil in the UK looks set to be a staple product for many people’s wellness routine due to its potential benefits, but this is a new and exciting area of law in the UK that is changing quickly to keep up with the fast-paced change that society is now pushing for. We probably can thank Social Media and Influencers for this never seen before historic push that culture has had on government and the legislature to challenge and change laws and legislation.
The legal status of CBD oil in the UK falls into several different categories, and it’s important to remember that these apply only to ingested CBD products like CBD oils, CBD gummies, CBD fruit jellies, and all CBD edibles. There are different rules, laws and regulations that apply to topical CBD products, which are those that you use on your skin, such as CBD balms and CBD creams. To make it a bit more complex, CBD products in the UK that are non-contact, such as CBD candles, have separate guidelines they must follow separately from the other two categories of CBD products.
But we are sticking to the UK laws that govern CBD Oil only in this blog, but to do that, we need to take a very brief look at the overall CBD laws in the UK, which is covered in more depth in its own blog, if you wanted greater detail.
Overall CBD Law in the UK
CBD laws in the UK state that for a CBD product to be legally sold, it must have under 0.2% THC content. This legal limit of THC is to ensure the product does not move into the category that is governed by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which, if it did fall into that category with a THC content over 0.2% is would be in fact a criminal offence to be in procession of. But you do not need to worry, as any reputable CBD brand will have their third-party ISO-accredited laboratory reports posted on their websites for all to see and check for themselves that the CBD product falls within the legal limit of THC before purchase.
Medical Cannabis in the UK
Again, as always, when it comes to UK law, there is a bit of a grey area to note. Which is medicinal cannabis has been legal since 2018; to get via a specialist prescription but you need to fit very specific criteria. Additionally, even though in theory and legally the NHS can prescribe medicinal cannabis there has not yet been a prescription written by an NHS doctor. All of the prescriptions so far have been issued via the private healthcare sector. You are required to show a history of other treatments or medications you have tried for the particular diagnosis you are looking to treat, and if those methods have not been successful as a final resort, you can qualify for a medical marijuana prescription. This makes it very confusing, I imagine, to now police cannabis as legally, it is still a controlled drug in the UK. But that’s another topic!
What CBD Products Are Legal in the UK?
CBD oil products are pretty straightforward legality-wise in the UK compared to CBD flowers, which we have a whole separate blog on due to the complexity surrounding that CBD product.
Regulators – Novel Food and The Food Standards Agency (FSA)
We could write multiple blogs on this subject, and many will agree it has caused the FSA some very embarrassing moments. Which seemingly, with their surprise dosage recommendation change most recently, are still not yet over for the poor FSA. Sadly, the process to regulate the CBD industry has been poorly managed, slow to react, not fit for purpose, and terribly communicated so that many consumers and many CBD companies as well, have been left with our heads spinning and very much confused overall.
But in a nutshell, it wasn’t a novel food, then Europe said it was, so now it is in the UK too. Many brands have spent huge amounts of money in creating dossiers that have now sat for over two years before the FSA then decided to change the goal posts with their recommended dose, which is not a law or enforceable but a recommendation and their previous 70mg per day limit still stands. Confusing right?
The less we say maybe the better.
Conclusion to CBD oil being legal in the UK
So that brings us to the end of this article, and to recap. Yes, CBD oil is legal in the UK, but don’t go hunting on eBay or Amazon for your CBD; buy directly from a reputable CBD brand that shows their customer reviews, they show their legal entity, contact information, and, importantly, the company proudly show and display their lab reports to show that their CBD oil contains below the legal limit of THC. So you can now go and reap the benefits that CBD oil has to offer, knowing you are doing so legally!
Q: Is CBD oil legal in the UK in 2023?
A: Yes, CBD oil is legal in the UK as long as it meets certain regulations regarding THC content and is used as a food supplement.
Q: What are the regulations for CBD products in the UK?
A: The regulations in the UK require that CBD products contain less than 0.2% THC and are labeled accurately. Additionally, CBD products must be approved as novel foods by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
Q: Is CBD considered a novel food in the UK?
A: Yes, CBD is classified as a novel food in the UK, and any CBD products intended for consumption need to be authorized by the FSA before they can be sold to consumers.
Q: Are CBD gummies legal in the UK?
A: CBD gummies are legal in the UK, as long as they comply with the regulations set by the FSA and contain no more than 0.2% THC.
Q: Can I buy CBD oil in the UK?
A: Yes, CBD oil that contains no more than 0.2% THC is legally available for purchase in the UK from authorized retailers.
Q: Is cannabis oil legal in the UK?
A: Cannabis oil that meets the regulatory requirements, including having a THC content of less than 0.2%, is legal in the UK.
Q: What is the legality of CBD vape products in the UK?
A: CBD vape products are legal in the UK, provided they adhere to the THC limits and other regulations set for CBD products.
Q: What are the regulations around the sale of CBD products in the UK?
A: The sale of CBD products in the UK is regulated by the FSA, and retailers must ensure that the products they sell comply with the legal requirements for THC levels and labeling.
Q: Can I legally import CBD products into the UK?
A: Yes, it is legal to import CBD products into the UK as long as they meet the regulatory standards and are intended for use as food supplements.
Q: Where can I get CBD oil in the UK?
A: CBD oil that is compliant with UK regulations and approved for sale can be obtained from authorized retailers and online stores operating within the legal framework.