Is CBD legal in the United Kingdom?
The CBD industry in the UK has dramatically grown over the last few years. However, many people still remain confused over the laws surrounding CBD & Cannabis.
What is CBD?
CBD is one of hundreds of cannabinoids that are contained within Hemp & Cannabis plants. CBD is non-psychotropic and does not get you high unlike THC, another cannabinoid found in Cannabis. CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system and can help with ailments such as pain, inflammation, anxiety to name just a few.
CBD Laws in the UK
CBD products are legal in the UK if the THC content of the product is below 0.2%. This is due to THC being a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
There are other requirements that a CBD product must meet to be deemed legal in the UK. The CBD must be extracted from an industrial-grade Hemp strain that’s been approved by the EU. Hemp differs from Cannabis as it is natural high in CBD and the level of THC is lower than a Cannabis plant. For CBD to be legal in the UK it must have a THC content of no more than 0.2%. THC is the part of cannabis that cause the infamous high that is associated with Cannabis. It’s because of this that the UK government also ensures that the small levels of THC present in CBD oils cannot be easily separated from it during extraction.
Cannabis is listed as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but CBD is not listed as a controlled substance under this act. Some people believe that they can grow their own Cannabis or Hemp. This is not true. It is illegal to grow your own Cannabis or Hemp in the UK. CBD producers in the UK must receive a licence and permission from the UK Home Office to cultivate.
Only licensed medical distributors and those selling CBD as a nutritional supplement can sell CBD. All CBD products must be properly labelled in accordance with The Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003.
Will CBD get you high?
CBD will not get you high. The belief that CBD products get you high is based on the fact that CBD comes from the cannabis and hemp plants. Cannabis gets you high as it contains THC. THC is psychoactive and activates the CB1 receptor in the brain. This creates a feeling of euphoria and intoxication associated with being high.
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and does not have the same effects as THC. Instead of activating the CB1 receptor, CBD actually inhibits it. CBD is used for its potential health benefits in dealing with insomnia, pain, anxiety and much more.
THC legal limitThere are two different laws surrounding THC content depending on what product is being made. Hemp products such as hemp oil, hemp seeds and the cultivation of hemp must have a THC level of 0.2% or less.
This changes if the CBD has been extracted through a CO2 or solvent extraction method. If a CBD product is made through this process it is advised that it should contain no THC to ensure full compliance with the law. This includes CBD oils, e-liquids, edibles and capsules. The Home Office offers two licence types for the cultivation of industrial hemp, one for a THC level above 0.2% and one for below.
With current testing methods, there is a certain rate of limit detection. There are labs that offer tests with a limit detection rate of 0.1% but this is margin for error is too high. Instead, it’s advised that more precise labs, who have a rate of limit detection of 0.01% or less should be used.
Is CBD a Novel Food?
The European Commission has defined a novel food as “a food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force”.
For a food item to pass as a novel food it must: not be a risk to public health, not be nutritionally disadvantageous when replacing a food, and not mislead the customer. The Novel Food Regulation was brought in by the EU to create laws like this one that can be applied to all members states.
The Food Standards Agency (“FSA”) is currently deliberating on their decision on whether to class CBD as a Novel Food. The general feeling within the industry is that the FSA will eventually class all CBD products that are ingested as a Novel Food meaning that any company selling ingestible CBD products in the UK is required to submit a Novel Food License application to ensure that the CBD products comply with the Novel Food legislation.
Is CBD oil safe?
If you are using a CBD oil that has been third-party tested, lists all of its ingredients and has been bought from a reputable source, then it is widely considered to be safe. CBD is non-toxic and non-psychoactive; CBD does not get you high.
There are exciting times ahead for the CBD industry as product innovation continues to astound and the public begin to appreciate the benefits that CBD can provide to people’s daily lives.