Given the complicated UK law around CBD, here’s a question which many may struggle to answer – is CBD flower legal in the UK?
In the UK, the overall CBD market is growing, despite nationwide economic uncertainty due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re thinking of entering the CBD market, read our blog for 10 potential CBD business opportunities you may want to consider.
CBD is forecast to generate £690m in annual sales by the end of this year. That is according to a report by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC).
There are many different types of products available to buy legally in the UK – below we will explain whether or not CBD flower is one of them.
So, is CBD flower legal in the UK? To answer that, it’s important to understand first of all what exactly it is.
CBD flower / CBD buds: what are they?
CBD flower, also commonly referred to as CBD buds, is the flower from the Cannabis sativa or hemp plant strain.
Along with the leaves and stems, this resinous flower is a source of the naturally occurring cannabinoid compound cannabidiol, or CBD.
To grow hemp flower in the UK, a company needs a licence from the Home Office to grow it as ‘industrial hemp’.
Obtaining a licence is a very thorough process and is usually reserved for medicinal cannabis growers.
By UK law, industrial hemp can only be cultivated if it has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content below 0.2%. THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychotropic effects of cannabis.
Now that we’ve covered what CBD buds are, as well as THC, is CBD flower legal in the UK?
In short, is CBD flower legal in the UK?
CBD flower is not legal to possess, buy or sell in the UK.
At first this may seem surprising since there are many online stores and high street shops advertising that they have legal CBD buds or CBD flower products for sale.
If a store claims that their CBD flower products are legal because they contain less than 0.2% THC content, they have ‒ either knowingly or unknowingly ‒ misinterpreted the law.
The 0.2% THC legal limit is for growing, not consuming, CBD flower plants.
Only the seeds and stalk, or its fibre, can be harvested for commercial use. What is left of the plants, including CBD buds, is considered to be cannabis.
Cannabis is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA). Therefore, these parts of the plant must not leave the growing site and must be destroyed.
As a result, CBD flower is not legal in the UK.
So, if CBD buds are illegal, how do some stores get away with selling them? It’s not because they’ve found a loophole in the legislation.
If you’ve seen hemp flower, CBD flower, or CBD buds, this may be due to a lack of strict law enforcement.
If you’re surprised by this, you may be thinking about other CBD or hemp products – let’s look into these.
Which CBD or hemp products are legal in the UK?
Hemp oil is not subject to the same restrictions as CBD oil. A CBD product with more than 1 mg of THC per pack is illegal under the MDA as it counts as a controlled substance.
A recent regulatory change has helped bring some safety and clarity to the market. CBD was added to the Novel Food Catalogue in January 2019.
This means that retailers planning to sell their existing CBD products had to submit a novel food authorisation application by 31 March 2021.
No new products can be sold until after the licence has been granted either.
In October 2018, the Home Office announced that medical cannabis was legal in the UK. This allows a specialist hospital to prescribe the medicine to the very small proportion of patients who have a specific need for it.
Today the licensed medicines available in the UK are:
- Epidyolex for epilepsy treatment
- Sativex for MS symptoms
- Nabilone for chemotherapy symptoms
Conclusion: is CBD flower legal in the UK?
No – it is illegal under UK law to sell, buy or possess products called CBD flower, or CBD buds, or hemp flower.
This is true even if the products claim to have a ‘legal’ level of less than 0.2% THC.
The regulation around 0.2% THC refers to the legal level for CBD flower cultivation, not human consumption. CBD flower parts must not leave the plant growing site and must be destroyed.
However, there is a wide range of CBD products which are legal in the UK, and the industry is growing.
The UK law is not straightforward and some of the general public will be confused about what they can and cannot buy legally.
If you would like more information on CBD flower laws in the UK, please get in touch with our team. We have vast experience of the cannabinoid industry and would be happy to help.