In the early spring of 2019, a trio of three British men was granted one of the first licenses in the U.K. to grow and cultivate industrial hemp. Their fledgling farm has been planted on the Island of Jersey, and the group first got the idea to grow hemp several years ago when working as firefighters.
Hempcrete, a fire-resistant, and sustainable building material is made from the core of the hemp plant. Intrigued, the fire service founded Jersey Hemp, a startup for growing hemp and using it to manufacture different products. Until they were granted the license, the group had to import CBD oil from countries outside of the United Kingdon. But is CBD legal in the U.K. today? The laws and history of CBD in the U.K. are a bit complicated.
Is CBD a Mind-Altering Substance?
Industrial hemp has gotten a bad reputation because of its cousin, marijuana. Although hemp and marijuana are part of the same cannabis family, they have different chemical makeups. Both strains of the cannabis plant produce hundreds of compounds called cannabinoids. THC, the mind-altering substance in marijuana, is only one of those cannabinoid chemicals. CBD is another cannabinoid that both marijuana and hemp plants produce.
Where these two strains differ the most is that marijuana plants possess an abundance of THC compounds. When heated and ingested, THC produces a euphoric high and several other side effects. Hemp plants, in contrast, produce little to no THC. Mostly, hemp plants produce CBD cannabinoid compounds. CBD won’t get someone high, or alter their thinking, feelings, or behaviors in any way. It is safe to use CBD and operate machinery, whereas THC could be dangerous to take before getting behind the wheel. As a psychoactive chemical, THC is considered a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
In the U.K., CBD products are not considered medical treatments but are supplements. CBD products containing .02% of THC or less are legal. In contrast, cannabis oil which contains a more significant amount of THC is not legal in the U.K. CBD products also must be derived from an EU-approved strain of hemp to be considered legal in the U.K.
How do People in the U.K. Use CBD?
Preliminary reports and anecdotal evidence from around the world suggest that CBD may offer relief for a range of health issues. But studies are ongoing and inconclusive at this time. Right now, doctors are optimistic about the benefits of CBD, but there hasn’t been enough research performed into the supposed benefits of the product yet.
In the U.K., licenses for manufacturing and selling CBD oil as medicine have not been granted, and it’s not legal for CBD manufacturers to make claims about CBD oil’s benefits for health. But CBD is generally considered safe, and people are free to believe whatever they want about the alleged health benefits of CBD. People typically vape CBD, ingest it as a capsule, place it under the tongue, use it as an oral spray, or apply it as a topical ointment or cream. There are also alternative ways to use CBD that are becoming popular, including CBD-guided meditation CBD-infused pillowcases, and CBD yoga.
The growing popularity of a generally unregulated CBD market is cause for some concern. Estimates indicate that the CBD market in the U.K. could grow to the same size as the entire U.K. herbal supplement market within the next five years. Also, independent lab tests of CBD products sold on the high street in the U.K. have found that more than half of all products contained less CBD than what was listed on the label.
What are the Similarities and Differences Between the U.S. and U.K. Laws About CBD?
There are many similarities between U.S. CBD law and U.K. CBD laws. For one thing, both country’s governments consider CBD a supplement and not a legitimate medical treatment. It’s not legal in either country to label CBD products as medicine or to make claims about the compound’s alleged medical benefits.
Another interesting similarity between the U.S. and U.K. CBD laws is the confusion that certain drug acts have had on the industry. In the U.S., labeling marijuana as a schedule one substance has perplexed a lot of people on whether or not hemp is the same thing as cannabis or the same thing as marijuana. Not knowing the differences between these strains has most likely contributed to the demonization of industrial hemp. Curiously, the U.K.’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 has had a similar impact. There’s been a lot of talk in both nations on removing marijuana as a dangerous substance from these acts.
Where these two countries differ in regards to CBD products is the THC content. In the U.K., CBD products must contain .02% of THC or less. In the U.S., the laws are slightly more lenient. People can legally buy and use CBD products that contain .03% or less THC. Also, the different state laws in the U.S. and the federal laws about CBD can contradict each other, adding further confusion to the mix. This isn’t as much of a problem in the U.K..
For example, a majority of states have legalized CBD, but three have not. On the other hand, the federal government has made it legal to use and buy CBD oil across state lines. Further confusing things, is that the federal and state governments sometimes differ on the issue of marijuana. On a federal level, marijuana use and cultivation are illegal. But many states have legalized the plant for farming and personal use. So if a person lives in a state where marijuana is legal and grows the plant, federal government agents could charge them with a crime despite the state saying it is legal to grow.
In general, CBD is safe for most people to use, but it’s important to get the all-clear from a physician before trying CBD. If you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor to use CBD, shop online at Hugs CBD today. All products are independently tested through a third-party lab to ensure accurate labeling.