How To Go About Starting A CBD Business In The UK: An In-Depth Guide

We think there’s no opportunity more exciting right now than starting a CBD business in the UK.

It provides access to a retail market which was worth an estimated $1bn (approx. £800M) in the UK in 2021, according to The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI).

Of course, there’s plenty to think about when starting a CBD business in the UK. You may be wondering, realistically, can I start a CBD business? Where do I begin? What’s the first step?

Don’t worry, we’ve put together an in-depth guide, based on our extensive experience.

If you’re interested, ask yourself a few important questions first and then read on to find out how to legally launch a CBD business and build a presence quickly.

1. Research the market

Do your research thoroughly and make sure you’re aware of potential threats, for example, the competition you will face – and risks, including a few common misconceptions about the UK law on CBD.

CBD is legal in the UK as long as it does not contain any more than 1mg of THC per pack – a trace amount.

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

Industrial hemp can only be legally cultivated if its THC content is below 0.2%. There are also parts of the plants that are outright illegal to possess, sell or buy in the UK – such as flowers or buds.

Make sure you understand all the relevant legislation before starting a CBD business in the UK.

2. Evaluate the competition

In terms of competitors, it goes without saying that with the wide range of very lucrative CBD business opportunities out there, the battle for market share is well underway already.

There’s plenty you can do though to put your CBD business ahead of the competition – such as collecting relevant, robust data to look for white space or untapped potential.

Before starting a CBD business in the UK, evaluate the competition and check out our nine steps that will help you differentiate from other companies.

3. Identify your CBD opportunity

The most popular CBD products in the UK are oils, according to YouGov research, but while that means the demand will be high, the competition will be fierce too.

There are many potential opportunities to consider when starting a CBD business in the UK – how about cosmetics, edibles or drinks?

We’ve put together a list of 10 CBD business opportunities you could capitalise on.

4. Write a business plan

Once you’ve identified your opportunity, whether it’s CBD oil distribution or something else, write a business plan.

Any entrepreneur asking themselves ‘Can I start a CBD business?’ will need to get this right.

Outline your objectives, strategy and financial forecasts – with a view to securing funding.

If you’re not sure where to start, the government provides templates and example business plans you can download for free.

5. Create customer-centric CBD products

Start by identifying what your customers will want, then work backwards. Try to pinpoint their unmet needs through ideation sessions.

Ideally, include a few carefully chosen consumers – they’re the ones who use the products, so they’ll likely have some interesting views on what works well and doesn’t.

According to one consumer research report, 28% of people asked said that the quality of the CBD was the most important factor when deciding which CBD product to buy. Other reasons included: trust in the brand, trust in the retailer, level of CBD and the cost.

However, your own research may reveal other differentiating factors too.

6. Get feedback on your products

Long before launching, we recommend collecting consumer feedback – on your marketing, prototype concepts and so on. It’s a key part of starting a CBD business in the UK.

You could run focus groups or host online communities to check that your initial ideas are on the right track.

Feedback should be an ongoing process – continue asking for it throughout development and after launch too. Here’s how to do it and how to use it.

7. Secure any required licences or approvals

Familiarise yourself with the CBD product approval process in the UK – we’ve written a very detailed guide about the Food Standards Agency’s novel food application process.

However, bear in mind that depending on your CBD product type, there are other licensing requirements to prepare for.

We’ve also written a comprehensive overview about the different approvals you may need – for example, if you’re planning to sell CBD cosmetics or cultivate industrial hemp. 

8. Choose a name for your CBD business

Your CBD business name will be a key part of your branding, so it should be a good fit with the qualities you’re trying to communicate to your customers.

It should also be SEO and word-of-mouth friendly, so make it catchy and don’t make it hard to spell.

Don’t forget the other crucial steps – searching for trademarks, trying to get the domain name, etc.

9. Decide on your business structure and register

When you’re thinking about how to legally launch a CBD business in the UK, this is a key step.

You’ll need to register your business with the government – either as a:

  • Limited company
  • Partnership
  • Sole trader

There’ll be different rules to follow depending on your type of business, where you work and who you hire.

Starting a CBD oil business in the UK

10. Open a business bank account

This is essential for a limited company in order to track:

  • Cash balance
  • Money owed to your business
  • Money your business owes to creditors
  • Employee payroll

You’ll need to provide ID for all company directors, proof of address and your business registration information.

11.  Get insurance

Insurance will protect you against a wide range of unexpected business costs and risks.

For example, it can cover mistakes, damage to your premises, legal costs, supply chain breakdown and much more.

A key requirement, when you’re ready to think about how to legally launch a CBD business, is employers’ liability insurance for your staff.

12. Choose your suppliers

It’s rare for companies to manage the entire new product development process themselves – figure out which parts will be more cost-effective to outsource.

For example, can you bulk buy packaging? Or work with a digital marketing agency?

If you need raw materials, white-labelled products or consultancy services, we can help.

13.  Think about distribution

Of course, retail outlets – online and offline – are a key part of the supply chain. Will you sell your products via your own stores, or go through independent retailers?

If the latter, then think about what they’ll want from you. What types of products do they want to stock?

Retailers also want to see proven results, a good reputation and clear customer guidance – find out more in our helpful guide here.

14. Ensure compliance with other rules and regulations

To wrap up our steps covering how to legally launch a CBD business, take note of the UK’s rules on storing and using personal data.

Also, if you’re planning to run a CBD e-commerce store, be aware of the guidelines for selling products online.

There are also rules to follow if you want to export or import anything abroad.

15. Join trade organisations

For a helping hand, sign up to one or more trade associations – they can provide valuable support when you’re starting a CBD business in the UK.

They’ve been set up to form best practice frameworks and campaign for a well-regulated, safe industry in the UK.

Two of the most prominent UK organisations are the Cannabis Trades Association and the aforementioned ACI.

16. Establish and grow your brand

Stand out from the crowd with a strong brand, one that communicates the benefits of your products in a considered, informative and responsible way.

Always remember that you must not make any medical claims about your CBD products.

One way to spread the word on social media is through celebrity endorsements – read our guide on how using celebrity endorsements to sell your CBD products works.

17. Develop strong relationships with your customers

It’s still a nascent industry, so your customers will likely look to you for guidance and a better understanding of everything the CBD market has to offer.

Prioritise excellent customer service. Loyal customers will help you to increase your profits, but dissatisfied ones won’t hesitate to switch brands.

Here’s how to help your customers shop for CBD.

18. Ensure transparency and trustworthiness

Finally, throughout the process of starting a CBD business in the UK, every decision you take should have transparency and trustworthiness at its heart.

Reputation is vital in this growing industry, which risks being negatively impacted by low-quality products on the market – some are badly mislabelled.

Find out more about building the reputation of your CBD products here.

Summary: Starting a CBD business in the UK

We hope our comprehensive guide to the early years of starting a CBD business in the UK has helped you.

The order you tackle the above steps may vary – and you’ll find that several of these stages are ongoing responsibilities – but however you approach it, enjoy the journey.

So, can I start a CBD business? Yes, you really can!

For any further queries about starting a CBD business in the UK, CBD products or our services, please contact us.

arrow green back

How To Store CBD Oil: Best Practices

If you’re not sure how to store CBD oil, so it lasts a long time and maintains its original quality, find out everything you need to know in this article.

Thankfully, it’s not complicated – but there are a few do’s and don’ts. At a glance, we’ll cover:

If you’re looking to learn more about CBD oil, check out some of the other articles in our blog section. It leaves no stone unturned in its detailed coverage of the fascinating world of CBD.

Without further ado, this is how to look after your CBD oil:

How to store CBD oil – top tips

CBD oil is straightforward to store. Wherever you keep it, just make sure that your products are:

  • Away from light

Keep CBD products away from direct sunlight in particular – sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) rays. These are high-intensity hot waves that can contribute significantly to the deterioration of CBD oil.

If that seems surprising, bear in mind that UV rays are the reason why we put on suncream when the weather’s hot. They consist of UVA rays, which play a part in the premature ageing of skin, as well as UVB rays, which can cause sunburn and skin cancer.

To keep your CBD away from light exposure, store it in a cool and dark place – for example, a cupboard. Also, keep the product in its container, assuming it’s opaque – a good provider will always put the product in high-quality packaging, designed to keep out bright light.

  • Not exposed to air or moisture

Oxygen is another factor which can lead to the breakdown of CBD oil, according to a well-established research study by J W Fairbairn, J A Liebmann and M G Rowan.

It explains that “air oxidation did lead to significant losses”, so it’s important to keep CBD in a dry place away from moisture – again, a cupboard is fine for this.

Air also contains nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which can contribute to the damage caused to your CBD products.

All you need to do is keep your CBD oil in its original packaging, as long as it’s airtight. Again, a reputable supplier will always ensure this. When you buy it, check that the seal isn’t broken and after using it, close the cap tightly.

  • Stored at 20℃ or below

High temperatures can spoil CBD, but keeping it at 20℃ or under won’t harm it.

Usually, this won’t need much planning – in the UK for example, room temperature is usually 20℃ or lower.

Bear in mind though that some rooms in your home will be hotter than others, especially during summer. Also, if you live in a warm climate, the room temperature will rise above 20℃, so in order to store CBD oil when your home is hot – keep it in the fridge.

Can you keep CBD oil in the fridge long-term?

If in general, you prefer to store your CBD oil in the fridge rather than in a cupboard, that’s fine. Fridges are airtight, cool and dark – when the door is closed.

There isn’t any evidence that keeping it in the fridge will increase the shelf life, but it won’t do any harm either.

Two things to know though, before you put CBD oil in the fridge, are:

  • The oil may separate slightly, but that’s no problem – it won’t affect the potency, just shake it before you use it
  • The oil may thicken – again, don’t worry, it will return to its original liquid state if you leave it at room temperature for a while

That’s how to store CBD oil overall – but if you’re leaning towards refrigeration, you may be wondering if the freezer is an option too.

Can you keep CBD oil in the freezer?

Yes, you can store CBD oil in the freezer. As you would expect though, if it thickens in the fridge, of course it will in the freezer too. It may go cloudy as well.

In this hardened state, when you eventually take it out, you won’t be able to dispense the oil until you’ve left it at room temperature for a long time.

Freezing CBD oil is an option if you don’t mind waiting for it to defrost. If you’ve bought CBD oil in bulk, this is certainly one way to keep all your products within their shelf life, but just be aware that even at room temperature, it takes a long time for CBD oil to expire.

How long does CBD oil last?

For the most accurate answer, check the ‘best before’ or expiration date on your product, but in general:

  • Unopened CBD should last for up to two years if stored correctly, according to the aforementioned research
  • Opened CBD should keep its current appearance and taste for up to six months, if stored correctly – it’s still usable for longer than that though

The above depends on the quality of the product, the manufacturing process used, the carrier oil used and so on. For more information about how to tell if CBD is expired, take a look at our recent article.

How to store CBD oil when flying

When thinking about how to store CBD oil, don’t leave it to the last minute if you want to take it with you on holiday.

If you’re travelling with hand luggage only, all your liquids will need to be in bottles no larger than 100ml and fit in a single, see-through, sealable bag too. Most CBD oil on sale won’t be in big bottles, but just remember it’s tricky to free up some space in those small plastic bags.

If you’re putting CBD oil in the hold, wrap it up well to avoid any risk of damage or spillage. Consider adding a layer of aluminium foil wrapping too, for extra protection from heat, in case the temperature fluctuates on the plane.

Also, keep in mind that some countries have made it illegal to enter with CBD oil. Read our comprehensive guide which answers can you take CBD oil in the UK – also, Alternative Airlines has put together a list of countries where CBD is legal.

How do you store other CBD products?

That’s all you need to know about how to store CBD oil, but what about other product types? Here’s a quick guide:

  • Capsules: The above still applies, but CBD capsules also have an extra layer of protection against the elements, helping to preserve them long-term
  • Creams: Again, store in a cool, dark and dry place – but while the natural ingredients found in skincare products shorten the shelf life, avoid the freezer because extreme temperature changes make them split
  • Edibles: These have the shortest shelf life, so consume soon – edibles will typically deteriorate faster once opened and you’ll need to keep some in the fridge, or freezer

Always check the product label for storage instructions and also be aware of the expiry date given by the manufacturer.

Summary: how to store CBD oil

Keep CBD oil in a dark, dry and cool environment to maximise the shelf life and avoid any risk of your product deteriorating.

Most people keep it in a cupboard – it’s out of the light, shouldn’t be damp and should stay at room temperature, unless you live in a hot country, in which case you’ll need to keep your CBD oil in the fridge. You could also consider using the freezer.

CBD oil is perishable, but it should last a long time if it’s stored correctly. It will stay in good condition if you follow the above – and familiarise yourself with the manufacturer’s storage instructions.

For any further queries about how to store CBD oil, or to enquire about CBD products and services, please contact us.

arrow green back

How To Tell If CBD Oil Is Expired And What Happens If You Take It?

For your peace of mind, it’s a good idea to know what happens if you take expired CBD oil – are there any risks to watch out for?

It’s also useful to know how to tell if CBD oil is expired. It’s not always straightforward, since for example, some people think that if the product looks cloudy, it’s gone off, but that’s not necessarily true.

In this article we’ll cover:

Elsewhere on our blog, you can find answers to other common questions, such as – what is CBD? Is CBD legal in the UK? How do you use CBD? And can CBD oil help with anxiety?

What’s in CBD oil?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a natural substance present in hemp plants – Cannabis sativa. As a natural substance, it is perishable – but thankfully, it takes a long time to break down, as we’ll cover shortly.

It comes from CBDA, or cannabidiolic acid, which is raw CBD that has been extracted from CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). This is a parent compound and one of the most important of the 113 or more cannabinoids found in cannabis plants.

So, your CBD is extracted from industrial hemp – a strain with next to no THC, which is the cannabinoid that would make you feel a ‘high’.

To create CBD oil, cannabidiol is diffused into a carrier oil – like hemp seed or olive oil – just to make it suitable for human consumption.

What’s in your CBD oil then? It may just be the hemp extract and carrier oil. Higher-quality products usually have fewer ingredients. A CBD tincture may have an added flavouring.

One way to get a sense of how long your CBD oil will take to expire is to check the list of ingredients – be wary of products with lots of additives.

A higher number of substances in a CBD oil means that there are more individual ingredient shelf lives to factor into the equation. That’s something to bear in mind when thinking about what happens if you take expired CBD oil.

How to tell if CBD oil is expired

There are several signs to watch out for – here’s how to tell if CBD oil is expired:

  • It smells rotten

Good CBD oil shouldn’t have a strong smell. It might smell herbal or earthy – that’s fine.

If it’s been flavoured or sweetened in some way, it’s probably a CBD tincture and of course, it may smell of whatever ingredient has been added.

But after a long time, it might start smelling rancid, like rotten vegetation – after all, CBD oil is produced from industrial hemp. If that has happened, then it’s probably expired.

  • The oil looks murky

A darker colour, perhaps dark brown, suggests that your CBD oil has degraded and broken down. If you use it, you may feel less of an effect at this point.

However, cloudy CBD oil isn’t a sign of expiration. Instead, it usually means the product has been kept in cold conditions – for example, a fridge – and it should return to its normal colour and viscosity if you leave it alone at room temperature for a while.

  • It tastes bad

Representative of its natural smell, good CBD oil should taste earthy or nutty. Some people don’t like the taste, in which case a flavoured CBD tincture is a good alternative.

Whatever you think of the taste though, it shouldn’t be unpalatable. A rotten-tasting CBD oil is a clear sign that it’s gone bad.

Is it ok to taste it, if it’s gone bad though? What happens if you take expired CBD oil exactly? Here’s our verdict.

What happens if you take expired CBD oil?

The good news is, taking expired CBD oil shouldn’t make you feel unwell – there aren’t any known side effects from using it, after it’s gone bad. However if you’re worried about using expired CBD oil, throw it away if you’re in any doubt.

In other words then, what happens if you take expired CBD oil? Nothing bad is likely to happen, so don’t worry if you think you’ve done this.

If that’s the case though, does it even matter if your CBD oil has technically expired and looks, smells or tastes bad?

Well, your product may still be usable – but it will likely be less of an enjoyable or pleasurable experience to take it. For many, that defeats the purpose of buying CBD oil in the first place.

Therefore, it’s worth keeping in mind how long CBD oil tends to last for – and how you can extend its shelf life.

How long does CBD oil last?

Always check the ‘best before’ or expiration date on your CBD oil – there should be a label or imprint on the bottle.

As a general rule though, unopened CBD oil should last for up to two years, as long as you store it as instructed by the manufacturer.

Opened CBD oil shouldn’t go bad for at least six months and as mentioned, it’s still usable for longer than that.

Product quality is the main variable affecting how long CBD oil lasts.

How to maximise the shelf life of CBD oil

Here are our three top tips for preserving your product, so there’ll be no need to find out the hard way what happens if you take expired CBD oil without expecting it:

  • Keep it in a dark place: CBD oil should be kept away from direct sunlight in particular
  • Keep it in an airtight container: Moisture or air oxidation exposure can cause CBD oil to break down, so always close the cap tightly after using it
  • Keep it at 20℃ or lower: For many, that’s room temperature but if you live in a hot climate or it’s a warm summer, keep your CBD oil in the fridge

Again, it’s a good idea to read any storage instructions provided by your CBD provider.

For more information on this subject, we’ve recently written a whole blog explaining how to store CBD oil. We also discuss how to store other CBD products safely apart from your oils or tinctures.

Summary: How to tell if CBD oil is expired and what happens if you take expired CBD oil?

You’ll know whether CBD oil has expired from its rotten smell, murky dark brown colouring or a taste that has worsened over time.

And what happens if you take expired CBD oil? Rest assured, there are no known side effects from taking cannabidiol products that have gone off. However, you’ll likely wish you had used them earlier!

For a long-lasting CBD oil, we recommend sticking to supplements that are high quality and from reputable companies. That means they’ve been verified by a third-party ISO-accredited testing lab and secured approval from the Food Standards Agency, amongst other criteria.

Read up on any new supplier, because some untrustworthy CBD providers are mislabelling their products.

If you have any further queries about what happens if you take expired CBD oil, or want to know more about CBD products and our services, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

arrow green back