Do You Need A Licence To Sell CBD In The UK?

Here’s a tricky question we’re often asked: do you need a licence to sell CBD in the UK?

With more than 1.6 million people in the UK claiming to be regular CBD consumers, according to the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, there’s a large market to serve.

It’s important for their peace of mind that they can trust the products they buy, safe in the knowledge these items have been rigorously checked to ensure high overall standards.

So, do you need a licence to sell CBD in the UK? Read on to find out.

Please note – this blog is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult a qualified lawyer if seeking legal advice.

For retailers – do you need a licence to sell CBD in the UK?

Firstly, it’s worth bearing in mind that CBD is legal in the UK as long as it does not contain more than 1 mg of THC per pack. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid from the Cannabis sativa plant responsible for producing a ‘high’, it’s a controlled substance in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

There are steps in place to ensure that by the time CBD companies’ products reach retail outlets, they have met this criteria and are safe to consume – more on these shortly.

Check out our previous article detailing the assurances that retail stores are looking for when they stock other brands’ CBD products. 

Retailers do not need a specific licence to sell CBD in the UK, like they must have to sell alcohol. Unlike CBD, alcohol is a psychoactive drug, therefore retailers need a licence to prove they understand the relevant laws and wider social responsibilities around selling it.

However, retailers intending to sell other companies’ CBD products can only do so as food supplements or nutritional supplements and “must ensure these products are correctly authorised” by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). 

For CBD companies – do you need a licence to sell CBD in the UK as a supplement?

Companies which produce CBD products to sell in the UK targeting the wellness market – such as oils and gummies – need a validated novel food application.

The FSA reviews applications via its regulated products system. We’ve written a detailed guide about how to submit a CBD novel food application.

These are the assessments required and estimates for how long the different stages take (some can happen simultaneously and the overall process may take about nine months):

  • Full toxicology assessment: 8-9 months
  • Stability assessment: at least 6 months
  • Product manufacturing data for at least 5 batches: 5 months
  • Total ADME assessment: 2-3 months
  • Genotoxicology studies: 6-7 weeks
  • Detailed information on typical CBD exposure and usage: 2-3 weeks
  • Risk assessment and risk mitigation plan: 2-3 weeks
  • Submission of additional supporting data: 2-3 weeks

The FSA clarifies that it regulates CBD as novel foods only. Cosmetics need a Cosmetic Product Safety Report and vapes must adhere to the General Product Safety Regulations.

Do you need a license to sell cbd in the UK?

For CBD companies – do you need a licence to sell CBD in the UK as a medicine?

Companies producing CBD-based medicines also need a licence. All medical products in the UK are regulated by the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Without this licence, companies must not make any medicinal claims about their CBD products.

In November 2018, cannabis-based medicines became legal in the UK – but only under exceptional circumstances and to be prescribed by a specialist hospital doctor, not a GP.

Since then Epidyolex, a purified liquid containing CBD, has been approved to treat two rare forms of epilepsy

With research into the potential wider benefits of CBD still ongoing, it is still very rare for anyone to be prescribed CBD in the UK, except for such very specific medical conditions.

For hemp growers – do you need a licence to cultivate industrial hemp?

To grow industrial hemp in the UK for the purposes of CBD production, you need to apply for an industrial hemp licence from the Home Office.

Applicants must register on the controlled drugs licensing system, ensuring anyone named in the application has had a valid Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check carried out by Security Watchdog.

Fees include £580 to cultivate cannabis plants with THC content at 0.2% or below for fibre and seeds, as well as £326 for each licence renewal or £1,371 if a visit is required.

CBD flower or buds are illegal to possess or sell in the UK.

How to set up and establish a licensed CBD business

We’ve written a six-step guide on how to become a CBD oil distributor in the UK. Our advice is to:

  1. Know your market
  2. Write a business plan
  3. Register the business
  4. Establish your brand
  5. Choose your products
  6. Join trade organisations

As part of these steps, it’s also important to factor in the relevant licensing and regulatory requirements, as detailed earlier.

How consumers can verify that CBD products are from licensed companies

In-store and online in particular, to ensure any CBD you buy is legal and from a supplier with the right licence, only consider companies with a good reputation.

Quality assurance is essential because CBD can be mislabelled by providers which aren’t transparent about what’s in their products. 

Consumers should look for the company’s certification from an ISO accredited lab using a detection limit of 0.01%, or proof of licensing, to do their due diligence.

If you’re purchasing CBD from a new company, always carry out some online research and read their customer reviews first.

Summary: do you need a licence to sell CBD in the UK?

In the UK, retailers do not need a licence to sell CBD products which aren’t their own – the onus is on the manufacturer instead, so:

  • Businesses wanting to sell CBD-based medicines need a licence from the MHRA
  • Companies producing CBD products to sell as supplements, for health and wellness purposes, need validated novel food authorisation from the FSA

Novel food applications take lots of time and money, because they have to be thorough. Using wholesale raw materials or white label products, already covered by the required application, saves a lot of hassle.

To learn more about CBD oil and UK law, check out our blog. For more information about CBD products, or if you have any other questions, please get in touch.

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10 CBD Business Opportunities You Could Consider

If you’re on the lookout for CBD business opportunities in the UK, we’ve come up with 10 for you right here.

For savvy entrepreneurs, the CBD market could be very lucrative. In the UK, 71% of adults are now aware of CBD-based products, according to a YouGov survey commissioned by the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI).

Moreover, Global Market Insights is forecasting that the European CBD market value will reach $28.7bn (£21.3bn) by 2027.

Here are some ideas for CBD business opportunities in the UK, where cannabidiol is legal to buy and sell as long as it doesn’t contain more than 1mg of THC per pack.

1. Produce CBD oil products

One of the most natural ways to capitalise on this growing market is to produce the most popular type of CBD product in the UK – that’s CBD oil, according to YouGov.

CBD oil is extracted from hemp plants, then diffused into a carrier oil so that it’s suitable for consumption, usually sublingually (placing it under the tongue).

We’ve written a six-step guide on how to become a CBD oil distributor in the UK. Our advice for getting started is to:

  1. Know your market
  2. Write a business plan
  3. Register your business
  4. Establish your brand
  5. Choose your products
  6. Join trade organisations

Cannabidiol companies cannot make any claims about medical benefits, but CBD oil can be sold in the UK as a wellness ‘novel food’ supplement.

Any food products containing CBD need approval from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) before they can be sold.

2. Make CBD cosmetics, bath lotions and soaps

CBD has potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it an increasingly popular ingredient in cosmetics.

Many people use lotions featuring CBD to try soothing their aching muscles, or use fragrant bath bombs to relax, unwind and clear their mind.

CBD cosmetics can be used topically by applying directly to the skin.

3. Make CBD tinctures

CBD tinctures are created by saturating hemp plant material in alcohol, sometimes gently heated. The alcohol extraction method helps tinctures to have a longer shelf life.

The CBD is then infused, the plant matter strained, flavourings or sweeteners added and the new solution is bottled.

Some people prefer the flavour of tinctures over CBD oil, which is unflavoured.

Similar to CBD oil, tinctures can also be used sublingually, or alternatively they can be taken as a food additive. 

4. Create CBD capsules or edibles

CBD capsules can be swallowed with water and, in this form, it’s easier to ensure dosage uniformity and regularity.

It’s also possible to create CBD-infused sweets and gummies

The best CBD edibles are full of flavour, vegan friendly, gluten free and don’t taste artificial in any way. 

Alternatively, you could consider vape oils as one of the more unique CBD business opportunities in the UK.

CBD business opportunities uk - CBD gummies

5. Create CBD-infused drinks

CBD oil is already found in a wide range of hot and cold beverages throughout London’s cafés and bars.

Infused drinks could be a good way to introduce CBD oil to consumers who are keen to try it, but not yet ready to buy a bottle outright.

While oil and water don’t mix, water soluble CBD is available and easy to dissolve in drinks. Also check out our previous article on the potential benefits of CBD tea!

CBD business opportunities uk - CBD tea

6. Open a CBD-themed restaurant

Similarly, several restaurants have started offering CBD treats and snacks

Eateries which have previously offered food containing cannabidiol include Plant Hub and Yogland, with its Hemp Matcha CBD frozen yoghurt!

In the UK, a third of consumers say they would buy CBD-infused food or drinks.

7. Make CBD bottles and containers

For those without the means to buy or create wholesale cannabidiol, there are other CBD business opportunities in the UK to consider. How about packaging, for example?

After all, premium CBD can’t be sold in any old container. Ideally, it should go into a high quality bottle with a glass pipette and a child-proof dropper cap.

A lot of care goes into creating CBD products and that’s also true for its packaging. 

8. Become a CBD marketer or influencer

Creating a great new product is one thing, but it won’t be one of the best CBD business opportunities in the UK without the right marketing.

Strong CBD marketers can help differentiate products from the competition and work out where to advertise them, as well as to whom.

Similarly, influencers with the right type of follower base can capitalise on the growing market by endorsing CBD products and bringing in new business.

9. Become a CBD retailer

The ACI also reports that there were 1.6 million people in the UK calling themselves regular CBD consumers as of 2020. 

Becoming a dedicated cannabidiol retailer is a good way to capitalise on this.

CBD customers want proven, effective products which are high quality and competitively priced. That’s what CBD retailers want too! 

Retailers don’t need a licence to sell other brands’ CBD in the UK as they do, for example, to sell alcohol. Whereas alcohol is a psychoactive drug, CBD is not. Do make sure, however, that CBD products you sell are sold as food or nutritional supplements, and not medicines.

10. Research potential for new CBD medication

Cannabis-based medicines are legal in the UK as of November 2018, but only for exceptional circumstances and rare conditions.

Epidyolex, which is a purified liquid including CBD, has been licensed to treat two types of rare epilepsy. 

Depending on medical research, new CBD-based medicines could be created to treat other health conditions.

Companies looking to produce CBD-based medicines need a licence from the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Final thoughts: CBD business opportunities UK 

We hope that the above has given you some food for thought if you’re looking out for UK CBD business opportunities.

As with any commercial venture, it’s important to check you’re getting involved for the right reasons. 

So, here are the questions you should ask yourself when you’re thinking about taking part in any CBD business opportunities in the UK.

For further information about CBD products or any other queries, please get in touch!

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CBG Oil: What Is CBG Oil And How To Take It?

You may be familiar with CBD oil, but in this article we’ll discuss: 

Recently, we summarised a study on whether CBD could prevent COVID-19 infections. Since then, new research has explored the possibility of CBDA – as well as CBGA – being used to potentially prevent coronavirus infections.

So, what is CBGA? And what is CBG oil – is there a connection?

When it comes to cannabinoids, there are a lot of acronyms and we know it can get confusing!

Read on for a comprehensive guide which also explains how to take CBG oil and the potential benefits.

What is CBG oil?

CBG’s full name is cannabigerol. CBG oil is produced from the Cannabis sativa plant but is non-psychoactive, meaning it does not provide a ‘high’ when consumed.

As a result, it is legal to buy and sell in the UK, as long as CBG oil products do not contain more than 1 mg per pack of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

THC is a controlled substance in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

CBG oil is extracted from industrial hemp, which in the UK must have less than 0.2% THC to be cultivated legally, by a grower with a specific licence issued from the Home Office.

What is CBG oil exactly? It’s a legal, non-intoxicating substance produced from cannabis plants, with a wide range of potential health and wellness benefits.

Consequently, CBG oil has much in common with the more well-known CBD oil – the most used type of CBD product in the UK according to the market research analysts YouGov.

CBD oil is popular for its potential therapeutic properties and often used to help manage anxiety, stress, insomnia and pain.

What are the potential benefits of CBG oil?

CBG interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a different way when compared to CBD. Since CBG binds directly to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it could be more efficient at delivering its potential benefits, but we don’t know yet. 

So far, scientific research has tended to focus on the benefits of CBD, rather than CBG.

With proven insights into the advantages of CBG still limited, here’s a quick look at some of the early indications so far, in chronological order.

Based on initial research, CBG could potentially be used to help treat:

  • Glaucoma by decreasing intraocular pressure (2008 study)
  • Bacterial infections due to its antibacterial properties (2008 study)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease by reducing inflammation (2013 study)
  • Huntington’s disease due to possible neuroprotective properties (2015 study)
  • Bladder dysfunctions by affecting contractions (2015 study)
  • Appetite loss by encouraging meal frequency increases (2016 study)

However, more research would be required to substantiate any of these initial findings.

Where does CBG come from?

CBG comes from CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). It’s one of at least 113 cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. 

CBGA is essentially the parent compound of CBG and, in fact, several other cannabinoids are also created when CBGA is broken down. 

These include:

  • CBDA, which CBD is created from
  • THCA, which THC comes from
  • CBCA, which another cannabinoid CBC comes from
  • CBG

We wrote recently about CBDA and its potential benefits.

Of these four cannabinoids, CBG is the one which is much harder (and therefore more expensive) to produce from CBGA. It’s easier to find in younger plants rather than fully developed ones.

How to take CBG oil

There are several ways to use CBG oil – essentially, they’re the same methods used to take CBD oil:

  • Sublingually by putting CBG oil under the tongue
  • By swallowing a capsule, food or drink containing CBG oil
  • By vaping CBG oil, absorbing it directly into the lungs
  • Topically by rubbing CBG oil on the skin

CBG oil is taken sublingually for its efficiency – it’s one of the fastest ways to absorb it into the bloodstream.

Using CBG oil topically means that it does not enter the bloodstream.

CBG Oil: What Is CBG Oil And How To Take It?

How to find a high quality CBG oil product

If you’re looking to buy CBG oil, ensure you only ever buy from providers with a good reputation – one that’s likely already been well established from selling CBD oil.

Anything from a supplier which has not been transparent about their CBG oil product ingredients could be mislabelled – either poor quality, unsafe to consume, or both.

Look for the provider’s certification which should be from an ISO accredited lab using a detection limit of 0.01% to check that essentially no THC features in their products.

When buying CBG oil from a new supplier, it’s vital to do some research and read through their customer reviews for peace of mind and quality assurance.

CBG isolate

One way to guarantee the complete absence of THC, without any trace amounts, is to use CBG isolate.

CBG isolate is the purest form possible of naturally occurring CBG and trustworthy providers should give a guarantee of at least 98% purity.

To achieve this, they will use complicated extraction and refinement processes to take out other active compounds, so that only the crystal isolate remains.

This can then be ground down further into a powder. We’ve written in detail about CBD isolate, which is manufactured in a similar way.

Summary: what is CBG oil?

CBG oil is a legal, non-psychoactive product type created from raw CBGA – more often than not from younger cannabis plants. 

While research is ongoing, initial results suggest that CBG oil could possibly have a wide range of health and wellness benefits, ones which are different to those that could potentially be obtained from using CBD oil.

However, in terms of how to take CBG oil, if you’re used to taking CBD oil already then you’ll be pleased to know that the same options are all possible.For more information about CBD products or CBG oil, please contact us or check out our other CBD-related blogs.

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