CBD oil explained
CBD is a cannabinoid that’s part of the hemp and cannabis plant. Even though it comes from cannabis it is non-psychotropic and will not get you high. Another part of the cannabis plant, THC, is responsible for this. Instead, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system in your body and can help with pains and illnesses.
Is CBD oil legal in the UK?
CBD oil is legal in the UK if it has a THC content of below 0.02% with THC being a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Firstly, the CBD must be extracted from an industrial-grade hemp strain that’s been approved by the EU. Hemp differs from cannabis as it is naturally high in CBD and low in THC, this means that it is more likely to pass the next requirement.
For CBD to be legal in the UK it must have a THC content of no more than 0.2%. THC is the part of cannabis that can cause hallucinations, paranoia and in extreme cases even addiction. It’s because of this that the UK government also ensures that the small levels of THC present in CBD oils can not be easily separated from it.
CBD oil UK regulations
Cannabis is listed as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but CBD is not listed as a controlled substance under this act. This had lead to some people believing that they can grow their own cannabis or hemp. This is not true. It is illegal to grow your own cannabis or hemp in the UK. CBD producers in the UK must receive a licence and permission from the UK Home Office to do so.
Similarly, to sell CBD oil you either need to be a licenced medical distributor or sell the product as a nutritional supplement. If sold this way, the CBD product must be properly labelled in accordance with The Food Supplements (England) Regulations 2003.
How is CBD oil used?
CBD oil owes some of its mainstream success to its versatility. It can be consumed in many different ways from oils, edibles, capsules and creams. This means that people who want to use CBD can find a method that will suit their needs and lifestyle.
Some people like to use capsules because they are concerned that they aren’t able to measure the correct dosage from a tincture or cream. Capsules are pre-dosed and can be discreetly consumed. They’re also a good option if you don’t like the taste of CBD oil. However, with this method, the CBD takes longer to enter the bloodstream.
If you currently vape, then choosing to vape your CBD may be a smart choice. CBD e-liquids are readily available and are easy to integrate into your current lifestyle. Although, it can be trickier to consume a precise dosage compared to other methods. Vaping equipment can also be expensive to buy.
When CBD is extracted from the plant it is extremely concentrated. It’s then added to a carrier oil and packaged in small glass bottles with a dropper. This is what’s known as a tincture. Using this method, CBD enters your bloodstream quickly as drops of the oil are placed under the tongue.
CBD edibles are normal snacks and treats that have been infused with CBD. You can buy pre-packaged gummies, lollipops, cookies and brownies. CBD can also be added to your favourite salad dressings, smoothies or sauces.
It is possible to smoke a flower that has high CBD levels, but this is not the recommended method. Smoking has the same drawbacks as vaping, except with the added danger of being a known carcinogenic.
People who are suffering from muscular pain or arthritis may want to use topical solutions. These CBD balms and oils can be applied directly to the afflicted area. This allows for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD get to work quickly.
With CBD now legal and very popular in the UK, it has lead to some people asking: How did we get here?
Cannabis UK law timeline
Cannabis laws were first introduced in the UK in 1928 by the Dangerous Drugs Act. When 1967 came around the Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act recommended that the penalties for possessing cannabis should be reduced. The growing of cannabis, regardless of species, was restricted by The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
2001 brought with it The Misuse of Drugs Regulations. This allowed people to grow cannabis if they had a licence from the Home Office and if it was only used for research purposes.
The first cannabis-based medicine became available in the UK under prescription in 2015. This was made possible by The Misuse of Drugs (Designation). This brings us to where we are today where CBD products are legal but they must have a THC level no greater than 0.2%.
Will CBD get you high?
CBD will not get you high. The belief that CBD products get you high is based on the fact that CBD comes from the cannabis and hemp plants. Cannabis gets you high as it contains THC. THC is psychoactive and activates the CB1 receptor in the brain. This creates a feeling of euphoria and intoxication associated with being high.
CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and does not have the same effects as THC. Instead of activating the CB1 receptor, CBD actually inhibits it. CBD is used for its potential health benefits in dealing with insomnia, pain, anxiety and much more.
Further confusion is created by laws surrounding THC legal limits. We’ll take a look at these in the next section.
THC legal limit
There are two different laws surrounding THC content depending on what product is being made. Hemp products such as hemp oil, hemp seeds and the cultivation of hemp must have a THC level of 0.2% or less.
This changes if the CBD has been extracted through a CO2 or solvent extraction method. If a CBD product is made through this process it is advised that it should contain no THC to ensure full compliance with the law. This includes CBD oils, e-liquids, edibles and capsules. The Home Office offers two licence types for the cultivation of industrial hemp, one for a THC level above 0.2% and one for below.
With current testing methods, there is a certain rate of limit detection. There are labs that offer tests with a limit detection rate of 0.1% but this is margin for error is too high. Instead, it’s advised that more precise labs, who have a rate of limit detection of 0.01% or less should be used.
CBD as a novel food?
The European Commission has defined a novel food as “a food that had not been consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997, when the first Regulation on novel food came into force”.
For a food item to pass as a novel food it must: not be a risk to public health, not be nutritionally disadvantageous when replacing a food, and not mislead the customer. The Novel Food Regulation was brought in by the EU to create laws like this one that can be applied to all members states.
Is CBD oil safe?
If you are using a CBD oil that has been third-party tested, lists all of its ingredients and has been bought from a reputable source, then it is widely considered to be safe. There have been no known deaths attributed to CBD and only a few minor side effects. CBD is also non-toxic and non-psychoactive.
CBD is legal in the UK, given that it meets certain requirements from The Home Office. Regulations change quite often and it is now possible to legally buy a wide variety of CBD products in the UK. This is partly due to the fact that CBD will not get you high and is safe to use.