Is CBD legal in the UK?

In this article, I want to answer one of the questions I am asked the most by those interested in Cannabidiol: Is CBD legal in the UK?

The laws around CBD are clouded, and as it is extracted from the cannabis plant many people simply assume that it is illegal. However, this kind of cannabis oil is legal in the UK.

Sold as a food supplement, CBD is more relatable to hemp oil, something that has been legal and prominent in the UK for years, whereas the cannabis plant is harvested from is not. With the product being so closely linked to an illegal substance, there is no wonder people are unsure, and with CBD regulations in its infancy in the UK it's completely natural that new customers who want to try CBD products might be wary about its legality.

Read on, where I breakdown the law even more, discuss the different CBD products on the market and talk about when a CBD product might be illegal.

Is CBD oil legal in the UK?

CBD oil is probably the most popular way to take CBD and is legal in the UK. For the most part, CBD oils are created when Cannabidiol is extracted from the cannabis plant and mixed with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil.

The only time a CBD oil would be illegal in the UK is when it contains more than 0.2% THC.

Are CBD drinks legal in the UK?

Like other CBD products, CBD drinks are completely legal within the UK unless they contain more than 0.2% THC. With the majority of the CBD drinks on the market, you’ll find cannabidiol already in the drink, however, Kolibri is the first CBD drink in the UK that allows you to customise the amount of CBD in your drink. So, whether you want a small amount or a larger dose you can create the experience you want.

When is CBD illegal in the UK?

CBD products are legal in the UK as long as they have a Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.2%. As THC is a controlled substance according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, any products that are found to include more than 0.2% THC are illegal.

THC is the psychoactive chemical in the cannabis plant, which means it is the thing that causes people to get ‘high’. CBD products should never make you feel as though you are ‘high’ and as such if you do use a CBD product and feel this way you should be wary as it is likely to contain over the legal limit of THC.

The only times a CBD product with a higher level of THC is allowed is when the Home Office grants a licence to the user, this will always be for medical use. Medicinal cannabis products have been found to benefit those with medical conditions like extreme epilepsy and it is in those cases that a licence might be awarded.

Can you buy illegal CBD in the UK?

Unfortunately, as regulation in the UK around CBD products is not currently stringent, there are illegal products hitting the shelves. This is because some companies that sell CBD oil and products might not be as they are labelled, and some CBD companies may be more interested in the financial gains they can receive from the market, rather than ensuring their products are up to scratch.

A study by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis looked at a range of high street CBD products and found that: "Almost half (45%) of the selected products had measurable levels of THC and are thus technically illegal within the UK."

If you want more help recognising quality when it comes to CBD products, read my article How do I know if a CBD product is high quality?

2020 Update from the FSA

It is because of the bad players in the CBD industry who are not regulating their THC content that the FSA is working to implement CBD regulations in the UK. This will mean that the CBD products you buy on the high street and online will have registered for their legal status and undergone third-party testing.

To learn more, read my article How the FSA is moving forward with CBD regulation.

About the author:

Kamila is a bestselling author of  “Bespoke. How to radically grow your bar and restaurant business through personalisation”, and passionate trend-spotter for the UK Eating Out market with thousands of followers on her widely popular blog

With a decade of hands-on experience collaborating with hospitality influencers and insight experts and background in setting strategies for leading brands, Kamila has become the industry champion for truly bespoke and guest-centric experiences.


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