A few years ago you could mention CBD oil, and pretty much no one would have any idea what you were talking about.
Today, over 6 million people have tried cannabidiol in the UK, and interest in the wellness benefits of cannabis oil continues to grow.
However, as CBD is extracted from hemp, a species of cannabis, there is still some confusion around if CBD oil is legal in the UK and what the exact rules are.
Cannabidiol is not a controlled substance when isolated in the UK, USA or most of the EU. In the UK specifically, CBD is legal as long as the product is derived from hemp, and it doesn’t contain over 1mg of any other controlled substance in the container or bottle.
In the EU and USA the rules are much less rigid, where products containing 0.2% THC and 0.3% THC are legal under local law.
Harvesting hemp for CBD oil is illegal in the UK, but hemp processed into CBD is legal, as long as it meets the aforementioned conditions.
This is where the confusion kicks in, and you have probably seen products marketed as legal because they contain less than 0.2% THC.
However, in the UK, the 0.2% THC limit only applies to growing hemp under government licence for industrial purposes, such as for using its fibre e.g to make clothing.
Harvesting the hemp flower, where the CBD is concentrated, is illegal under UK law and they are destroyed on harvest at farms across the UK.
Although, change is in process across the channel – Jersey approved the first permit to harvest CBD flower into hemp extract in this British Isles in August 2019.
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MODA), outlines that 2 specific cannabinoids, THC and CBN, are both controlled substances under the act when not used for industrial hemp production.
You have probably not heard of CBN, which is a product of THC degradation, and associated with being a sleep aid.
However, there is a provision which allows for products to contain up to 1mg of THC & CBN per container/bottle, and as a result a bottle of CBD oil sold on the high street must contain less than 1mg THC/CBN.
The secondary condition is that products must not make any medicinal claims.
CBD is sold as a food supplement in the UK, and consequently, brands are categorically not permitted to make any medical claims.
Any products stating specific claims must have an authorisation from the MHRA. Should you see a brand suggesting CBD is a cure for x y or z, be aware that this is strictly illegal.
It’s important to note that there isn’t any specific regulation governing the CBD industry in the UK, and most of the rest of the world.
As a result, CBD Oil products in the UK often do not contain what the label says they do.
The UK Centre of Medical Cannabis carried out the most extensive study to date of CBD Oil UK in June 2019, finding that over 38% of UK CBD oil on sale contained less than 50% of the CBD the label said they included.
Another related problem is bottles can contain more THC than is permitted, and this can be troublesome for users. It’s especially problematic if you take CBD Oil which is untested and drive.
Products containing high levels of THC are more likely to pop up on a drugs test, than those containing non-detectable levels of THC (broad spectrum oils).
As an interim solution to these issues, legitimate brands will test their products with a third party, for both cannabinoid content and contaminants such as heavy metals.
These tests should be at a batch level and in the companies name, users should be able to reference a batch number to a test on the retailer or brands website.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.