Is it legal to sell CBD products in the UK?

By: Charlie William

Date: 22 August 2019

A bottle of hemp oil and hemp seeds scattered across a table - CBD concept.CBD oil is rapidly growing in popularity in the UK. According to the latest surveys, as many as 6 million Britons - 11% of the population - have tried CBD oil or other CBD products in the hopes of benefiting from their claimed health-improving properties.

Sellers of CBD products stress that they are perfectly legal, citing the official stance of the UK Home Office. Despite this, the laws surrounding the sale of CBD remain murky at best.

Here’s what you need to know about the next big health and wellness trend.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. These compounds are reported to have many health benefits, ranging from reducing anxiety to fighting inflammation.

The best-known cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is responsible for the “high” experienced by marijuana users. However, unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating - making it possible to reap the purported health benefits without the psychoactive effects.

Is CBD legal in the UK?

Unlike its psychoactive cousin, CBD is not on the UK controlled substances list. However, most CBD products also contain some amount of THC. This is where most of the confusion around CBD’s legal status comes from.

The UK Home Office has stated that any CBD product made from hemp - a variety of cannabis containing 0.2% or less of intoxicating THC - is legally permissible.

However, British regulatory agencies have failed to clarify their stance on CBD products. This has not only created confusion among CBD sellers and the people that buy their products, but has made it challenging for police and the courts to interpret the law.

For example, the restaurant Canna Kitchen in Brighton, which offered foods infused with hemp-derived CBD, was raided and shut down by police in 2019. The restaurant's owner told reporters that both the police and the Trading Standards Agency had stated that the business was legal.

As it used hemp-derived CBD products, the restaurant also met the Home Office guidelines for legality. Situations such as these highlight the need for further clarity by UK regulatory authorities on the legal status of CBD.

The UK CBD market

Despite the confusing legal environment, the UK CBD market is flourishing. CBD products can be found in pharmacies, health food stores, and high street shops. However, the vast majority of CBD products in the UK are bought from online marketplaces such as CBD Shopy.

According to one estimate, the size of the UK CBD market in 2019 was £300 million, making it larger than the markets for vitamin C (£119 million) and D (£145 million) combined. This number is expected to reach £1 billion by 2025.

Can I sell CBD oil in the UK?

For UK businesses concerned about legal issues when selling CBD products, the two most important things to remember are:

  1. To provide high-quality products, backed by third-party testing. Independent third-party test results prove that your CBD products contain legal levels of THC, and as much as CBD as advertised. This makes it easy to demonstrate that you're complying with UK laws, and not misleading consumers.
  2. To avoid making any medical claims. As CBD products are classified as food supplements in the UK, making claims about their potential health benefits is illegal.

If your business sells CBD products in the UK, it’s a good idea to join a UK cannabis or hemp association such as the Cannabis Trades Association, who can support you in complying with all relevant laws and regulations.

Copyright 2019. Article was made possible by Charlie William

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.