Scientific research and studies are increasing our knowledge about the health benefits of Cannabis and their derived products.
But the law concerning these substances is in a constant state of flux. In the past couple of decades, countries like the UK and the US are amending their law related to misuse of drugs to allow certain cannabis products to be used purely for their medicinal properties.
CBD oil is one of the most discussed products in this context, owing to the increasing evidence that supports the health benefits it renders. To understand the legal status of CBD oil in the UK, we need to understand the current laws and what exactly they mean.
Understanding CBD oil
Researchers thus far have identified more than 113 compounds in cannabis plants like marijuana, hemp etc.
Two compounds, in particular, CBD or Cannabidiol and THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, have garnered immense popularity in recent years owing to their distinct properties.
THC is the ingredient that can get you ‘high’ as it is a psychoactive compound. On the contrary, consuming CBD cannot get you high because it does not have psychoactive properties.
CBD can be available in two forms – CBD isolates and full-spectrum CBD. CBD isolate is 100% CBD which is separated from all other compounds. Full-spectrum CBD, on the other hand, contains traces of oils, wax and other compounds like THC that exist in the source plant.
CBD oil also called as the tincture is a simple composition of CBD extracted from hemp plant mixed with a carrier oil or vaping liquid. You can either place a couple of drops of this oil under your tongue, apply it onto your skin or infuse in a variety of edibles to enjoy its benefits.
The Healthline affirms that CBD does not get you high and no public health-related problems are caused by consuming pure CBD. The health benefits of this ingredient are many, most of which are backed by scientific study. CBD can relieve chronic pain and inflammation, control and cure epilepsy, helps manage anxiety, insomnia, reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It has also shown promising results in healing cancer and Alzheimer’s. People can also consume CBD infused products to maintain general health and increase overall productivity.
The legal status of CBD in the UK
To understand the legal status of CBD in the UK, we need to understand that CBD is categorized as a ‘novel food’. The law states that the products enlisted in this category should be new to consumers, meaning they should be in existence before May 1997. It should not be harmful to public health or nutritionally deficient and should not mislead the consumer.
For CBD to be sold as a novel food, it has to be derived from industrial hemp, which is gown using EU approved seeds. This cannabis plant contains less than 0.2% THC, which is the permissible limit according to the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
You can legally buy several CBD products like CBD oil, oral sprays, capsules, coffee, beer or any CBD infused beverage, CBD gummies, cookies, brownies and other edibles and cannabis radar recently released a list of CBD products you can buy in the UK.
But the law prohibits marketing these products as medicine which can cure various ailments. That is why CBD products are generally referred to as supplements and cosmetics.
CBD oil which is probably the most widely used CBD product must be formulated according to the guidelines given by the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.
To manufacture CBD infused products, a company needs to apply for a license, but there is no such restriction on importing or selling such CBD products in the UK. You need to watch out for a long list of unlicensed CBD products being openly sold in the country which are illegal according to the law.
What does the law say about THC?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another natural compound found in the cannabis plants is undoubtedly as famous as CBD. Although it has a similar chemical structure as CBD, this compound is psychoactive, meaning it can get you ‘high’. People who smoke or consume marijuana in different ways for recreational purposes prefer a higher percentage of THC in their substance.
THC is clearly an illegal substance, and its use or possession is punishable under the law in the UK. As CBD and THC exist together in cannabis plants, negligible traces of THC will be found in CBD oil. Thus, the question about the legality of CBD oil resurfaces.
The permitted concentration of THC in CBD oil and other CBD products in the UK should be less than 0.2%. Additionally, THC should not exist in a way that it can be easily separated from the oil. Doctors can prescribe such oil for medicinal purposes.
Medical CBD oil available by prescription
The law is a little more relaxed in the UK regarding the use of medicinal CBD oil. Realizing how effective CBD can be in helping adults and children who are suffering from epilepsy, the Home Ministry announced new reforms to the law about medicinal cannabis. Since November 1, 2018, doctors are able to prescribe CBD products for such patients.
Medicinal CBD oil is extracted from psychoactive cannabis plants which may contain a more significant percentage of THC than generally allowed (0.2%). This kind of oil cannot be purchased over-the-counter and is not available for general consumption. Patients can legally access medicinal CBD oil with a certified doctor’s prescription. The campaigners are pushing for further relaxations in these restrictions not only in the UK but worldwide.
The statement released by the Home Minister states that for a cannabis product to be considered as a medicine, it needs to fulfill 3 criteria. It should be a preparation made from cannabis or should contain its extract in some way. It should be exclusively prepared for human consumption. Lastly, it should either be consumed directly as medicine or used as an ingredient in making a medicine.
We can safely conclude that CBD oil is legal in the UK as it is categorized as a novel food. This product is extracted from the hemp plant and contains less than 0.2% THC. Thanks to the various campaigns and high profile cases, medicinal CBD oil was legalized in the UK last year to be prescribed by the doctors to treat special cases of seizures. If you are using CBD oil or any product containing it, ensure that you are buying a legal product. Thus, you can enjoy all the goodness of CBD oil without any legal implications.