“Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine. Medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt.”
A CBD product must not become a source for others to extract the THC (or any other controlled cannabinoids such as THCV and CBN). The Home Office states that in order to be exempt from the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001:
1. CBD cannot be sold as a medicine
The UK Food Standards Agency was advised that CBD food supplements shouldn’t be sold unless they have been officially evaluated and permitted. As a result, on February 13, 2020, the FSA set a deadline for all CBD food supplements on sale in the UK to be authorised under the Novel Food regulations.
We spoke with Robert Jappie, partner at London law firm Ince who specialises in cannabis regulation in the UK and Europe. We wanted to gain the benefits of his expertise and share it here. Our first question was, is CBD legal? He said:
“[N]o one component part of the product or preparation contains more than one milligram of the controlled drug”
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The old status which no longer applies is below:
Speed read: CBD regulation UK in 1 min
* ‘Not detected’ means no THC at 0.01% as verified by accredited ISO lab.
Like with most EU regulations including GDPR the data protection regulation, Novel Food Regulation EU 2015/2283 was developed to harmonise national laws across Europe. Without harmonisation, you have a diverse and complex patchwork of regulation with each Member State having their own laws. This can hinder development of the single market.
The entry for CBD in the catalogue confirms that CBD foods are by definition a Novel Food and should be subject to Novel food regulation whereby a novel food application is required.
Cannabis plants are made up of more than 100 different cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on cannabinoid receptors in cells that alter neurotransmitter release in the human brain. These have different impacts on the body and are concentrated to different extents in certain parts of the plant, the BBC reports.
Ultimately, says ITV News, there’s a big difference between CBD you are given by a healthcare professional, and the less regulated CBD oil you can get on the high street.
Cannabidiol has entered the mainstream, but effects are unclear
The number of people using CBD oil, also known as cannabidiol, in the UK alone is estimated to stand at around 1.3m. As GQ magazine says, “thanks to a brand reimagining and increased medical research”, the naturally occurring compound has “gone from dangerous to desirable”.
However, it is important to note that licences for CBD oil as a medicine have not been granted yet, and manufacturers cannot make claims about their alleged medical benefits.
The medical effects of CBD aside, “in many cases, the industry is taking consumers for a ride”, says Mike Power in The Guardian. He cites lab tests commissioned by the think tank Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) which analysed high-street offerings and found that more than half of the most popular CBD oils sold do not contain the level of CBD promised on the label.