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Is CBD legal in the UK?

Illustration of a hand holding a bottle of CBD oil
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If you’re thinking about trying CBD products you may want to make sure they are legal and safe to use in the UK. CBD products must meet certain standards in order to be legally bought and sold in the UK. Read on as we answer the question, is CBD oil legal in UK.

CBD legalisation in the UK

CBD is legal in the UK, however the CBD oil UK law states that the product has to meet certain criteria to be lawfully available for human consumption. Many CBD products on the high street aren’t always properly authorised. So, when you’re looking to buy CBD oil, spray or capsules it’s best to buy them from trusted websites, pharmacies or stores to make sure these products are safe for consumption. If in doubt speak to your doctor or a pharmacist, and make sure to always read the label before taking CBD products.

CBD oil must not contain more than 0.2% THC to be legally sold in the UK. It’s the THC that’s present in the cannabis plant, that CBD is extracted from, that gets you high. Although taken from the same plant, CBD oil should have a minimal, if any, amount of THC in it in order to be legal. You can find out more about how CBD oil is made here.

When was CBD oil made legal in the UK?

Most CBD oils are sold as food supplements. However, in 2016, the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) stated that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) could be classed as a medicine, if used for medicinal purposes. To be sold, supplied and advertised as medicines, CBD products must have a license. The licensing ensures that CBD oil products meet safety, quality and efficacy standards. These standards and regularity guidance help to make sure that CBD products are safe for people to take and use as medicines. If you would like to start taking CBD oil to treat or manage a condition, it's best to discuss this with your GP.

CBD is not recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medication. If you are already taking medication, we suggest you speak to your doctor before using any CBD products.

Can I take CBD oil in the UK?

There are hundreds of CBD brands and product types that you can take and use in the UK. These include CBD oils, sprays, capsules and skincare to name a few that. If they meet the standards set by the MHRA, these products are safe to take in the UK. However, CBD is not recommended for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking medication. If you are already taking medication, we suggest you speak to your doctor before using any CBD products.

The Foods Standard Agency have released new advice around CBD and the amount people should be taking, they recommend no more than 70mg a day unless your doctor has advised otherwise. So, make sure to check the product packaging on your CBD oil to make sure you take the right dosage. If you’re already taking a high dose you may want to minimise the amount you’re taking daily. If you’re unsure you can always talk to a pharmacist or doctor about your CBD usage.

What are the UK regulations for CBD oil?

CBD product have to follow certain regulations when being produced and sold within the UK. This form of quality control applies to manufacturers and the processes they use to create the CBD products they sell and supply. However, with more and more vape and CBD shops springing up on the high street it can be hard to know who is adhering to UK regulations. It’s always best to do your research, speak to a pharmacist or doctor before you try CBD products for yourself.

CBD as a novel food

CBD was announced as a novel food in January 2019 and added to the Novel Foods catalogue. Although the catalogue doesn’t have a legal status is allows authorities to make decisions about novel foods, their safety and their legality. CBD is a food supplement and should be taken as one. Remember to speak to a doctor before taking CBD if you’re already on medication. Also, food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

What is a novel food?

Novel foods are foods which have not been available to the UK or EU public before May 1997. They’re relatively new and so don’t have a ‘history of consumption’, so the Foods Standards Agency has a responsibility to ensure they’re safe to eat or drink. Each new food must undergo a safety assessment and authorisation before it can be legally marketed in the UK. CBD will have gone through this process and continues to be regulated while it has novel food status.

Novel foods include:

  • New foods such as probiotic bacteria in yoghurts
  • Foods eaten around the world but not in the UK or EU, like chia seeds
  • Foods made in new ways or by new processes such as UVC treated milk

Travelling and driving with CBD oil

As CBD is legal in the UK you should be able to take CBD on domestic flights within the UK, however it’s best to contact your flight provider to make sure it’s ok. If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll need to check the hand luggage and luggage guidance. Remember as CBD oil is classed as a liquid it’ll be subject to the 100ml liquid rule for hand luggage. If you’re traveling internationally, we also recommend checking the CBD laws in the country you are travelling to, as well as the terms and conditions of the airline you’re flying with.

To be legal in the UK CBD products must have very low levels of THC, so that they’re not psychoactive and won’t get you high. You should be safe to drive while taking CBD, however with all food supplements there are possible side effects which could affect you. We recommend that you read the product information and packaging so you’re aware of what could happen.

References

CBD oil is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any ailments.
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

www.gov.uk/government/publications/cannabis-cbd-and-other-cannabinoids-drug-licensing-factsheet
www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/cannabidiol-cbd
www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/novel-foods#:~:text=Novel%20foods%20are%20foods%20which,used%20in%20cholesterol%20reducing%20spreads
www.ages.at/en/topics/food/novel-foods/#:~:text=Examples%20of%20novel%20foods%20and,e.g.%20UVC%2Dtreated%20milk)
www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44534861
www.gov.uk/government/news/mhra-statement-on-products-containing-cannabidiol-cbd
www.food.gov.uk/news-alerts/news/food-standards-agency-sets-deadline-for-the-cbd-industry-and-provides-safety-advice-to-consumers
www.patient.info/news-and-features/does-cbd-oil-really-work