CBD Oil in the UK: The Legality and Everything You Need to Know

Everyone is talking about it around the world, sales are rocketing and users are heaping praises on the product fronted as a panacea for all that ails us. But what is CBD’s status in the UK? Can you buy CBD edibles in the UK? Is it legal? These are some of the commonly asked questions by UK residents. CBD has gained worldwide popularity in recent years, due to cannabis legalization efforts and research studies suggesting its potential in managing various conditions that have been plaguing mankind for the longest time. In this article, we look at what CBD is, its uses and legal status in the UK. Read on!

What is CBD Oil?

CBD, or cannabidiol in full, is one of the 100 plus cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil is, therefore, the CBD rich extract from the cannabis stems, leaves and flowers. The name cannabis meaning marijuana and hemp plants in this case.

CBD is one of the two popular cannabinoids, the other one being THC. But unlike THC, CBD does not get you high as it has no psychoactive properties. THC’s ‘high’ is what causes confusion when people hear CBD is obtained from cannabis. CBD oil in the UK is mainly extracted from industrial hemp, a cannabis strain that has lower levels of THC.

Is CBD Legal in The UK?

CBD oil and other CBD products are perfectly legal in the UK, but that depends on a couple of factors. For CBD to be legal in the UK, it must be THC and CBN free as both compounds are listed as controlled substances in the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. CBD products that contain THC and edibles such as gummies are in the legal grey area or regulated differently and are therefore partially legal.

One of the factors that determine whether your CBD product is legal is where it is extracted from. CBD oil can be extracted from cannabis or hemp plants, however, only hemp is legal in the UK. The Home Office puts the legal THC limit at 0.01% even lower than the US’s federal legal limit of 0.3%.  Interestingly, The UK is the largest cannabis Exporter in the world and home to the company producing the only cannabis-based products approved for medical use in major markets, Epidiolex and Sativex.

To add on that, CBD oil in the UK is only legal if it is extracted from the hemp leaves and stems, but not the flowers, where it is present in abundance. Wastage or confusing laws? Adding on the confusion, you need a license to grow hemp. On the brighter side, standard advertising and labeling laws apply and it is illegal to use misleading tactics to sell CBD oil in the UK. However, that has not stopped some producers from taking consumers for a ride.

To sum it up, CBD products made from hemp are legal in the UK, but they cannot be advertised as medicine without being licensed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. This is why the CBD oil you are likely to buy is advertised as a nutritional supplement despite the health benefits it offers.

Why People Buy CBD Oil in The UK

In the UK, like in the rest of the world, people are realizing the benefits of using natural health solutions. Many people looking to use CBD for its health benefits are mostly motivated by its lack of side effects. It also doesn’t cause dependency like most prescription drugs. While there is no conclusive evidence on the health benefits of CBD, rising anecdotal and research studies suggest that it can be used to help manage several conditions.

Most of CBD users buy it to help manage pain. New research studies suggest that CBD has analgesic properties; it’s the reason why it is used by most people suffering from chronic pain, including those with MS and arthritis. CBD oil in the UK is also used to reduce the symptoms of REM behavior disorder (RBD), anxiety and depression, insomnia among other conditions. However, more research is still required to determine its effectiveness. Epidolex is the only CBD drug approved in a major market after it was approved by the US FDA for epilepsy treatment in 2018.

Can CBD Oil Be Prescribed in the UK?

As stated earlier in this article, CBD oil is legal only if the THC does not exceed 0.01%, as soon as you add more THC, you will need a prescription. This is kind of a bummer as CBD has been shown to work more effectively in the presence of other cannabinoids, a phenomenon called the ‘entourage effect’. The 0.01% limit makes full-spectrum CBD oil technically illegal in the UK. However, CBD oil with more THC is available by prescription since November 2018 when specialist doctors were legally permitted to prescribe cannabis-based medicines. But this is still not a straight forward process due to the barriers to obtaining one.

How to Buy CBD Oil in The UK

CBD oil is available virtually anywhere, from high street stores to online sellers. However, you must ensure you research each product carefully to ensure it is of high-quality. Ensure you are satisfied with the CBD concentration and THC percentage (more could get you in trouble). Ensure it is organically sourced and look for third party lab test reports. You may want to purchase from reputable sellers to avoid poor quality products.

Here is a good guide to UK’s best CBD oils.

Takeaway: CBD Oil in the UK

CBD oil is legal and already a mainstream product in the UK, but there is a 0.01% limit on the amount of THC in each product. However, like in most countries in the world, the laws are still not perfect and may be unclear in some situations. It’s also advisable to consult a doctor before trying CBD for any health condition.