Is CBD legal in the UK?
Over the last few years, CBD has surged in popularity and you've probably noticed more and more shops stocking CBD oils, balms, sweets and recently more obscure products like CBD pillows and candles. As it's still fairly 'new' to a lot of consumers there are many doubts, misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge on what it really is, and commonly due to it's known relation to THC there are questions as to its legality here in the UK.
The short answer is - yes.
In practice, however, there are a few things that are required from CBD manufacturers and retailers for their product to be legal here, and also a few things for consumers to look out for to ensure they are purchasing a quality product.
EU law and the UK
In 2020 The Court of Justice of the European Union dealt a blow to some EU countries that were attempting to limit the sale of CBD when they ruled that the cannabis-derived compound CBD is not a narcotic drug. This is because “it does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health” according to the EU's highest court. While the UK is of course no longer a part of the EU, we have followed suit and as of now there are three key things that CBD must be in compliance with:
- The product contains less than 02.% THC
- Is made using EU-approved hemp
- Marketing used is done with full compliance of the current regulations.
So, as we explain in a bit more detail in a recent blog here - certain CBD products (mainly those that are full-spectrum) contain many cannabinoids and most known among them, THC, is often among those in the products you see on the shelf. Any that are legally sold, including our own, will contain less than 0.2% THC, but limits are not so strictly set on the other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN and CBGA. Because of this, CBD manufactures are required to obtain and keep an approved licence for their products and be able to provide lab reports for any of them.
A direct quote from the Government's official website on CBDs legality and control status here is:
"CBD as an isolated substance, in its pure form, would not be controlled under the MDA 1971 / MDR 2001.
If a CBD ‘product’ contained any controlled cannabinoids, unintentionally or otherwise (e.g. THC or THC-V), then it is highly likely that the product would be controlled."
Something to keep an eye on as a consumer is whether the CBD product you are buying is manufactured in an International Organisation for Standardization (ISO) and current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) facilty to ensure that it was made in somewhere with high safety standards.
CBD products sold in the UK & Novel Food regulations
In 2019, CBD 'extracts', such as C02 extracted products were confirmed to be controlled by a 'Novel Food Status' which means that for CBD retailers it is your only route into the UK market. There has been much confusion since the announcement, as retailers and manufacturers alike scrambled to make sense of the regulation guidelines and apply to be approved - even now, many are confused as to what they can do to remain compliant. What we do know is full spectrum CBD oils that are C02 extracted are to be taken off the shelves, and this in itself has caused issues for many across the industry. This change is partly what made us, at Country Boys Collective, make the change to cold-pressing our products for our new range, being both compliant with UK regulations as well as providing a full-spectrum product in which consumers can benefit from the 'entourage effect'.
You can read more on the Novel Food regulations and their relation to CBD here.
Furthermore, as previously mentioned there are regulations for the marketing of these CBD products in the UK that retailers at a consumer level must comply to in order to remain on the shelf. This is something that we've found has a huge effect on small businesses, as you are unable to advertise digitally on social media platforms - a popular and largely effective advertising strategy. Further to this you are also restricted in where you can place other digital adverts and print adverts as much public space is still unavailable to us in many cases - and you are also restricted in what it is you can say to your consumers about what your products can do. Even while someone may use CBD to help with relieving their anxiety to great success - we, as a retailer, are unable to directly say that CBD can relieve anxiety and are steered toward referencing the results of a small (but rapidly growing) pool of certain studies and pointing to their results.
So - while it is legal, CBD sold in the UK must comply with a set of regulations in order to end up in your hands. If you have any questions about our products or require any further information on CBD regulations - please contact us on email@example.com