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CBD and Cannabis Law in the UK – Where do you Stand?

CBD oil and other cannabis-derived products are all over the news at the moment. With high profile cases such as those of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley hitting the headlines, we are seeing a greater interest in the benefits of marijuana-derived products for our health.

The world of cannabis can be a hazy one, and the lack of clarity about the legalities of buying, selling, possessing and using CBD and cannabis products can mean that some people are put off using them. So where do you stand with cannabis and CBD laws in the UK?

What is the Difference Between CBD Oil and Cannabis?

In contrast to in the past, where the UK government never used to differentiate between the cannabis plant and some of the compounds that can be taken from it (deeming it all to be illegal), they now have taken the step to legalize certain aspects within the plant.

CBD stands for Cannabidiol, which is one of the components of cannabis and is the part which, according to research can have a number of health benefits for its users. The change in the law in 2017 now means that oil made from CBD can now be sold legally in the UK as long as it conforms to certain rules.

Another component of cannabis is THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). This is the part that is psychoactive and gives you a ‘high’. This is also the part that is illegal if it’s level is over 0.2% concentration. So, if you have a cannabis-derived product – such as CBD oil, with a THC concentration of under 0.2%, you’re all legal.

It is important, however, to not get mixed up between CBD oil and cannabis oil. CBD oil made from a strain of hemp which has been modified over time to have very low levels of THC and other components, making it legal in the UK.

Cannabis oil, however, is made from a concentration of all of the components of the cannabis plant, which means not only that it is likely to have higher THC levels, but also other cannabinoids which can also have an effect on consumers – identified as the ‘entourage effect’. Cannabinoids are the chemicals which are produced by a cannabis plant – such as CBD and THC.

As cannabis oil generally has higher levels of THC, it has been named as a ‘controlled substance’ in the UK and therefore not easy to buy or sell legally.

Growing Cannabis

Despite the change in the law about CBD, it is still illegal to grow cannabis plants in the UK. It does mean, however, that research can more easily be carried out to learn more about the health benefits of all the components of cannabis.
And it also means that the British people are free to buy, sell, possess and consume CBD oil legally for recreational reasons.

There is a certain amount of confusion around CBD oil and other products which are derived from cannabis but produced (legally) in other EU countries or the USA. They can be sold in the UK (as long as they are within the regulations) but cannot be produced in the UK. This sends out mixed messages and is yet another aspect of the cannabis world that needs to be clarified.

CBD Oil as a Medicine

A license is still needed for businesses to sell CBD as a medicine – and this is not so easy to get – even if it contains a low THC level. This is because for a substance to be categorised as a ‘medicine’, it would need to go through rigorous testing and satisfy the legal requirements of the 2012 Human Medicines Regulations.

It does mean, however, that CBD oil can be sold as a nutritional supplement. According to the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) and the Psychoactive Drugs Act (2016), it isn’t classified as a controlled drug, so the CBD oil that we sell here is all absolutely legal.

MHRA statement on products containing Cannabidiol (CBD)

The Law Around Cannabis

The Misuse of Drugs Act in 1971 does classify cannabis as an illegal substance, and the law says that the possession of cannabis can give a sentence of an unlimited fine, up to five years in prison or both. Evidence shows, however, that in recent years, punishments for the possession of cannabis for personal use are not being strictly followed by the law and more lenient sentences are being given.

Since the Criminal Justice and Police Act in 2001, if you are caught in possession of cannabis for personal use, you can be issued a PND (Penalty Notice for Disorder) by the Police on the spot. If you are caught again, you will get another PND, and a third time will usually result in prosecution.

The supply and production of cannabis, however, can give a sentence of an unlimited fine, up to 14 years in prison or both, and the law is much stricter.

There is, however, increasing pressure to decriminalise cannabis, coming from all sides, including prominent people within the Police Force, Jeremy Corbyn, a number of other MPs, celebrities and being in the election policies of the Lib Dems and Green Party.

The Future of CBD Oil, Cannabis and the Law

The future is looking bright for those who use CBD and cannabis products, as more and more influential people seem to be switching on to the potential that some of the compounds of cannabis can have – especially for medicinal reasons. This means that hopefully more funding can be allocated, and research carried out to explore the still untapped properties of the cannabis plant.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary has recently intervened in the case of Billy Caldwell who was using a CBD oil which is stronger than legally permitted in the UK, to allow him to use it. He also announced on 19th June that he will launch a review into the regulation of cannabis oil for medicines.

This is a positive sign that the powers that be might be beginning to change their attitude to cannabis oil, CBD oil and other products which are derived from marijuana.

It is obvious however that mixed messages are being sent out with regards to medicinal and recreational cannabis, CBD oil, cannabis oil, hemp, what’s legal, what’s illegal – and what goes punished and what doesn’t. The current state of interest should, at worst, give more clarity to the laws around CBD oil and cannabis, but until there is, you can rest assured that all the CBD oil sold here at is 100% legal!

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