How to Become a CBD Oil Distributor in the UK

Wondering how to become a CBD oil distributor?

Consumer interest in CBD has risen sharply in the last few years, and that trend looks set to continue.

With the CBD industry on the up, many entrepreneurs are looking to take advantage of the fertile UK market.

If you’ve dreamed of joining them but aren’t sure how to start a CBD business, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together a six-step guide to show you how to become a CBD oil distributor in the UK.

how to become a CBD Oil distributor in the UK

Why become a CBD oil distributor in the UK?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant species. Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn’t have any psychotropic or intoxicating effects. In other words, it doesn’t get you ‘high’.

The recent rise in consumer interest has been driven by CBD’s potential health and wellness benefits. 

Although more research is needed to fully understand its therapeutic properties, studies have so far suggested CBD could be used to relieve pain, aid muscle recovery and treat a variety of complaints. These include insomnia, nausea, acne, asthma, inflammation, anxiety, stress, inflammation.

These potential benefits make CBD one of the most compelling wellness trends to come along in years. Helping people cope with pain, anxiety and other common issues is one of the primary attractions in becoming a CBD oil distributor.

Another factor is that CBD’s appeal seems to be widening. A 2019 report by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis estimated that there were 1.3 million CBD users in the UK, valuing the UK market at £300 million.

The report suggested that CBD usage was no longer limited to trendsetting millennials but had reached the mainstream. It found that 8-11% of UK adults had tried CBD products, with usage high across classes and age groups.

Intrigued? Here’s how to become a CBD oil distributor in the UK in six steps:

Step 1: Know your CBD market

Before embarking on a CBD business venture it’s essential to understand the market you’ll be operating in.

There are a number of important considerations to be aware of, so do your research carefully.

  • Legality: Although CBD is legal in the UK, there are some common misconceptions around what’s legal and what isn’t. If you want your CBD business to be successful, it’s vital to stay on the right side of the law.

    In a nutshell, CBD products are legal as long as they contain less than 1mg of THC per pack. The 1mg limit applies regardless of the size of the pack.

    Products containing more than this amount of CBD would be classed as controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (MDA) and would therefore be illegal.

    You may have seen some sources quote the legal limit as 0.2% THC – however, this applies to the cultivation of industrial hemp and does not apply to finished CBD products. 

    Hemp can be cultivated legally in the UK if it contains less than 0.2% THC, although a licence from the Home Office is required. In addition, despite the fact that you may have seen them marketed openly, it is illegal to sell the buds and flowers of hemp plants.

    Only the seeds, stalk and stalk fibre can be harvested for commercial purposes. The buds, flowers and leaves are considered cannabis and are therefore a controlled substance under the MDA. To find out more, see our article on CBD laws in the UK.
  • Marketing restrictions: CBD companies are not allowed to make medicinal claims about their products. The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has issued guidance relating to CBD stating that ‘medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK’. 

    Sativex, Epidyolex and nabilone are currently the only CBD or cannabis-based medicines that have been licensed in the UK, and can only be prescribed by doctors.

    This means that CBD companies must not make claims about the medical benefits of their products.
  • Rules and regulations: In January 2019 CBD was added to the Novel Food Catalogue, meaning it’s subject to the EU Novel Food Regulation. Foods are considered novel if they haven’t been consumed to a significant level in the UK or EU before May 1997. All novel foods require pre-market safety testing and authorisation before they can be sold in the UK.

    In February 2020, the Food Standards Agency gave UK CBD companies a deadline of 31 March 2021 by which to have a validated novel food application in place for each of their products. CBD products that don’t have a validated application in place by then won’t be allowed to remain on the shelves. Find out more in our article on novel food applications.

Step 2: Write a CBD business plan

Any new business needs a solid business plan, and the CBD industry is no different.

Your business plan is the blueprint for your fledgling CBD business. It should explain your aims, objectives and strategies, and include sales, financial and marketing forecasts.

If you’re looking to secure investment or a business loan, a business plan is absolutely essential. A strong business plan can also help to garner support from suppliers, customers and potential employees.

Writing a business plan will help you to:

  • Clarify the idea for your CBD business
  • Identify your goals as a CBD distributor
  • Find potential issues
  • Monitor and assess your progress

The government has provided a list of free resources and advice on writing a business plan, including business plan templates.

Step 3: Set up your business

Once you’ve got your business plan and know where you’re headed, you can start setting up your business as a CBD distributor.

There are a few vital things you need to do to get your business off the ground, including:

  • Choose a name for your CBD business. Aim for something related to the CBD industry, that conveys a unique benefit to your customers and that sounds good spoken aloud
  • Decide on your business structure and register your business
  • Open a business bank account
  • Get insurance, if applicable
  • Make sure you’re following any rules or regulations that apply to your business – you don’t need a licence to sell CBD, but there are rules that apply to selling onlineimporting and exporting goods, and data protection. For more information about CBD and licencing in the UK, read our blog.

Step 4: Establish your CBD brand

Building a recognisable and trustworthy brand will inspire customer confidence and help to establish you in the CBD market.

You’ll need to decide whether you as a CBD distributor want to sell purely online or in physical stores. Either way, you’ll need a well-designed website to help you engage with customers and appear reputable.

One of the most important considerations when establishing a CBD brand is to appear professional. The previous under-regulation of the CBD industry has led to confusion and lowered confidence among some consumers, so establishing yourself as a serious brand that customers can trust is key.

When designing your website, logo and other materials, be sure to treat CBD in a mature, respectful way, avoiding imagery that could be linked to cannabis or drug use.

Remember that CBD is a wellness product and cannot be sold as a medicine, so try not to make your branding look too medical.

Perhaps most importantly, show that you’re passionate about CBD. Customers will be much more likely to trust a brand that believes in the product and shows good intentions.

Step 5: Choose your products

As a CBD distributor, sourcing high-quality products should be a top priority. Ensure the products you sell are made in clean conditions in reputable, ISO-certified laboratories.

It’s a good idea to choose products made from organic hemp, to minimise the risk of introducing contaminants like heavy metals.

Lab results should be available for all products, which should show the exact quantities of cannabinoids and other compounds in the product. This will demonstrate that the THC content is within the legal limit and that the product doesn’t contain contaminants. 

Make sure all of your products are clearly and correctly labelled with this information.

Now that CBD has been added to the Novel Food Catalogue, it’s vital you adhere to the regulations and ensure compliancy. Leaf Sciences can assist you with this and allow you to focus on growing your business and brand.

Step 6: Join trade organisations

CBD is a fairly new industry in the UK, and the rules and regulations around it are still evolving. 

Several trade bodies have been set up in order to establish a framework of standards and best practice, with the aim of making the CBD industry safe, reliable and legally compliant.

The Cannabis Trades Association and the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry are among these. Becoming a member of one of these organisations will give you access to resources, advice and support to help your business stay compliant, sustainable and reputable, giving you a solid foundation for success as a CBD distributor.

We hope the above has given you a clear idea of how to become a CBD oil distributor in the UK, good luck!

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