CBD in the UK – Is it Legal? Is it Safe?
Here's what you need to know about CBD in the UK
CBD has grown increasingly popular in the UK, but do you know that there are certain criteria for CBD products to be legal in the UK? Although it isn’t as regulated as other products due to its relative infancy, CBD has several key notes that must be met to be legally sold in the UK. Due to the lack of clear regulation, there are many CBD products that aren’t properly authorised.
When was CBD made legal in the UK?
In the UK and many European countries, CBD is sold as food supplements, cosmetics or vape products. In 2016, the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) stated that CBD products could be classed as medicine if strict licensing and testing could be achieved. As of 2018, CBD oil was legalised for use in the UK, predominantly as novel food products meaning that CBD could only be marketed without medical claims. This is due to the lack of meaningful studies that show any medical benefits, but there have been some exceptions in this case.
As of 2022, CBD oil is now regulated in the UK by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) and there is a list of CBD containing products available online, that are able to be sold in the UK. If a CBD product is not listed on this site then it is not regulated, and thereby not legally allowed to be sold in the UK. You can search for CBD oil products that are currently registered here. Cali Greens CBD oils are listed on the FSA site as we continue to push for quality CBD products in the UK.
What are the regulations for CBD oil in the UK?
For CBD products to be registered in the UK there are several regulations that must be abided by. Firstly, the CBD must be sourced from hemp grown outside the UK (hemp farms in the US offer some of the highest quality CBD on the market), and CBD oil must not contain any THC other than trace amounts (less than 0.2mg).
THC is not legal in the UK and is still considered a controlled substance due to its psychoactive effects. It’s for this reason that CBD oil more often comes from hemp plants which naturally offer much lower THC levels than marijuana.
Other regulations stipulate how CBD products are sold. For instance, products containing CBD are considered food supplements, cosmetics or vape products, not medicinal. Because of this CBD companies must submit a Novel Foods Application to the FSA (Food Standards Agency) to sell their products. Similarly, these products cannot make any medical claims about their effects.
There are also regulations that state UK residents cannot grow CBD-rich hemp for personal use. Nor are CBD flowers or buds legal for sale in the UK.
How can you ensure your CBD is safe?
As CBD isn’t regulated as strongly as some other products, there is no clear-cut guarantee for the safety of CBD products. It’s for this reason it is highly suggested to shop with reputable companies, carefully read the ingredients and check the product contains CBD and have lab testing reports readily available for viewing. Generally, it is recommended to purchase UK manufactured CBD products with strict lab testing procedures, to help ensure better quality and the safety of the products. You can find our lab reports for all of our CBD products here.
You can find out more on how to keep an eye out for high-quality CBD in our previous article.
A common problem with some products is that they are listed as CBD but actually contain hemp seed oil rather than CBD oil. Read more about this here.
Is CBD legal elsewhere around the world?
The legality of CBD overseas gets awfully complicated. It really depends on the country and even then, there are specific reasons that make CBD products legal or illegal. For example, in the US many states allow CBD only when prescribed for certain medical conditions, while a few like Kansas have made CBD completely legal except for THC.
When it comes to the EU, many countries have legalised medical cannabis and thereby CBD oil is legally available. These include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Most of the rest of the EU allows CBD as long as the THC content remains lower than 0.2mg, much like the UK. However, the regulations may differ between each country so it's important to check the specifics before travelling to them with CBD. For example, in some countries, a medical prescription is needed.
Overall, the safety and legality of CBD products really do differ depending on the country of origin. Those produced in the UK are more likely to have increased quality and safety, but it is still up to you to properly research the products you are looking to purchase. CBD is very much legal in the UK, so long as it abides by UK regulations, but if you are looking to take your CBD elsewhere it is vital to check the specifics of the country you wish to enter.