Is Hemp & CBD legal in the UK?

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Is Hemp & CBD legal in the UK?

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The confusion around the legality of buying or selling CBD

The popularity of food supplements containing cannabidiol (CBD) has risen in recent years, which prompted the EU’s Committee for Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) to revisit the permitted consumption of hemp products in the Novel Foods (NF) catalogue.

On 20th January 2019, PAFF decided that hemp seeds were permitted as a food but declared hemp flowers and leaves novel – causing confusion in the legitimate hemp foods industry and the market.

However, the NF catalogue is not a legally binding document, leaving member states free to apply their own regulations at national level. For example, Belgium permits the sale of dried CBD flowers for smoking but considers all other hemp-derived products to be novel. Ireland only permits hemp extract if it is extracted through a cold extraction process.This might explain why the EU market is in a state of flux when it comes to CBD products, as there does not appear to be a single market for hemp-derived products in the EU.

The UK Government’s legal stance on CBD

CBD is Legal is the UK as long as THC levels are below 0.02%. The UK regulation foresees that one container must not contain more than 1mg of controlled substance. The FSA guidelines propose a maximum daily CBD intake of 70mg.

Legal medicine versus food supplement

The main difference between CBD used in medicine versus food products is the dosage, not the concentration of cannabinoids. Research shows that substantial pharmacological activity of CBD in clinical studies is not observed under approx. 100 mg oral/d for an average adult. However, starting from ca. 20 mg oral/d of CBD per day to ca. 100 mg exerts physiological effects. In the UK, a medicine that contains a high level of CBD is authorised as medicine, e.g. Epidolex. A CBD food or food supplement, on the other hand, has low levels. The FSA guidelines propose a maximum daily CBD intake of 70mg.

What is considered a ‘novel food’?

According to Article 3 of the NF Regulation, a novel food is a food that has not been consumed up to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997. If a food is considered novel it must undergo a pre-market safety assessment and authorisation before it can be legally marketed in the EU. This procedure, under Article 10 of the NF regulation, is expensive and can take up to two years.

How Brexit affects CBD products in the UK

The UK’s Food Standards Authority (FSA) has announced that all existing food suppliers of hemp-derived products containing CBD need to submit their novel food application by 31 March 2021. Suppliers will still be permitted to sell their products pending the authorisation process. However, companies who have not applied for this authorisation by 31 March 2021 will no longer be able to market their CBD products.

CBD vs. THC

  • CBD and THC are two natural compounds found in plants belonging to the Cannabis genus.
  • Despite being similar in chemical structure, they react differently in the body.
  • CBD is nonpsychoactive, which means you don’t get ‘high’ when you ingest a CBD product.
  • THC, on the other hand, is the main psychoactive compound in marijuana from the cannabis plant, which is responsible for the ‘high’ sensation.
  • CBD is generally sold as an oil, extract, supplement and tincture.

Third-party testing

Whether buying or selling CBD products, we recommend you choose manufacturers who have had their products tested by third parties. If a CBD product has been third-party tested and has all of its ingredients listed on the packaging, then it would be considered to be a trustworthy product.

Are you buying CBD?

CBD products from hemp plants are legal in the UK as long as the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) level is below 0.02%. One of the main concerns of customers buying CBD products, is whether their products will get stuck in customs if they buy from abroad. Our advice is that it is important to choose suppliers:

  • whose products do not contain THC content;
  • whose products have undergone third-party testing;
  • who list all the ingredients on their products;
  • who are members of the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA); and
  • who do not make medical claims.

Considering buying CBD?

With a wide range of CBD products available on the market, there are bound to be variations in quality. It’s important to find authorised CBD products so you get value for money.

Finding approved UK CBD products

  • Buy products from a certified CBD product manufacturer
  • Avoid suppliers who make medical claims
  • Avoid products that do not have all the ingredients listed
  • Check if the product has undergone third-party testing

What do people use CBD for?

If you’ve researched CBD Hemp, we’re sure you must have found a lot of positive stories online about people’s experience of CBD products. But it’s important to remember that each person is unique. Although people say they take CBD for pain, stress or anxiety – what might work for them, might not be the same for you.We advise our distributors not to use medical claims when talking to customers about CBD products. Instead, we recommend CBD is positioned as a healthy dietary supplement that works in harmony with the endocannabinoid system in the body.

Are you selling CBD?

If you sell CBD products, one of the key things to remember is not to make any medical claims about the products. There are a lot of positive stories online about the benefits of CBD products, but each person is unique. What might work for one person might not be the same for another. So, it’s important not to sell CBD products, such as hemp oils for example, on the promise of them being able to ‘cure’ ills or pains. A lot of merchants, online shops and payment providers do not accept CBD products and the ones that do might take a long time to approve your products. Therefore, finding an existing and approved solution (like Kannaway) might be the way forward to get your CBD business off to a good start.

Legal regulations & legalisation

Although CBD is not listed as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, CBD producers in the UK must get a licence from the UK Home Office to grow their own cannabis or hemp. If you sell CBD oil as a nutritional supplement, the CBD product must be properly labelled in compliance with The Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003.

How to sell CBD products

A lot of merchants, online shops and payment providers do not accept CBD products and the ones that do might take a long time to approve your products. Therefore, finding an existing and approved solution (like Kannaway) might be the way forward in the hemp industry to get your CBD business off to a good start.

The UK’s official stance on selling CBD

Existing food suppliers of hemp-derived products containing CBD need to submit their novel food application by 31 March 2021. You will still be able to sell your products pending the authorisation process. However, if you have not applied for this authorisation by 31 March 2021 you will no longer be able to market your CBD products. In addition, if you sell CBD oil as a nutritional supplement, the CBD product must be properly labeled in compliance with The Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003.

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