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Is CBD legal?

Is CBD Legal in the UK?

Unlike THC, CBD is not on Britain’s controlled substances list. As such, CBD is fully legal in the UK. This isn’t surprising because CBD doesn’t have any mind-altering effects, so the Home Office has no reason to restrict its use.

However, there are three key stipulations to keep in mind:

  • CBD products cannot contain more than 1 mg of THC per container
  • CBD products can only be derived from EU-approved strains of industrial hemp, which contain no more than 0.2% of THC
  • CBD products must be produced by manufacturers who have succesfully applied for novel foods authorisation from the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) by March 31, 2021.

These regulations have made it more difficult to offer CBD products in the UK. That’s why the British CBD industry has been asking government authorities for an updated set of guidelines.

Let’s explore these stipulations in more detail.

CBD as a Novel Food

Although CBD is legal in the UK, there is yet another challenge to be aware of. The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced in February 2020 that it will follow in the footsteps of the European Union by treating CBD as a novel food.

By the EU’s definition, a novel food is 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.”

The idea behind this concept is to make sure that any new food items are safe for consumers and come with proper labelling.

Due to this change, CBD product manufacturers will have to submit a novel food authorisation application before they can sell any CBD product in the UK, including oils, capsules, gummies, drinks, and any other ingestible preparation.

For products that are already being sold, this application must be submitted by March 31, 2021, otherwise, they will be taken off the shelves.

Although this change does not make CBD products illegal, it does place a great financial and regulatory burden on CBD manufacturers.

Treating CBD as a novel food has garnered both positive and negative responses across the industry.

Some welcome it as a way to make CBD products safer and more likely to contain accurate levels of CBD, while others see it as yet another way to stifle the growth of the UK’s CBD market.

In any case, the FSA defended its decision by stating that “the actions that we’re taking today are a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice. It’s now up to the industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is.”

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