Is CBD Oil Legal?

As many as 300,000 people in the UK are believed to be using CBD oil in 2019, compared to around 23 million in the US or 7% of the total population. The medical marijuana industry is big and profitable in both countries, with Forbes Magazine reporting that CBD products are expected to be a $2.2 billion industry by next year. But where do we stand on legality?

There are some legal similarities for CBD oil, (read more about CBD Oil here), in the US and the UK. There is always a distinction between recreational and medical products as well as guidelines regarding how much THC, which accounts for the psychoactive properties of marijuana, is allowed in the product. There is also a difference when it comes to clarity. It appears UK laws are a lot clearer than US laws and the UK has some degree of uniformity when it comes to CBD use laws.

GQ Magazine reports that in the UK, CBD has “gone from dangerous to desirable” thanks to increased medical studies and brand reimagining. Supporters of CBD oil say it can relieve epilepsy, insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation, depression, anxiety, and other illnesses or conditions. Opponents say its benefits are unproven or exaggerated.

According to Business Matters, there is still much confusion around UK laws on CBD oil with the vast majority of compounds listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act as controlled substances. 

Legal in the UK?

CBD is 100% legal in the UK as long as it has been derived from an EU-approved, (whilst the UK is part of the EU), industrial hemp strain that contains no or very little THC. More specifically, CBD oil must contain a maximum of 0.2% THC to be legal in the UK, and the THC must be hard to separate from it. Alternatively, cannabis oil is normally not allowed in the UK because its THC content is higher.

  • After leaving the EU it seems likely the UK will maintain the same regulatory management as it did whilst inside the EU. If that changes we will update the site with the new regulations.

There is one exception to this rule according to the BBC, who report that there is a drug that is approved as MS treatment in the UK. This is Sativex, containing a 50-50 mix of CBD and THC.

Last year, the UK legalized cannabis-based medical prescriptions for specific illnesses, but it doesn’t seem like anyone has gotten one yet. Due to this, the UK government’s stance on marijuana and CBD is not quite clear. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the UK market for the compound is unregulated as of yet. CBD food supplements sold in stores are neither licensed nor regulated, whereas the MHRA oversees Sativex and other medicinal products containing CBD. Again, this makes things quite unclear.

Incidentally, a patient can only be prescribed medicinal cannabis in the UK if their need cannot be met by licensed and regulated drugs.

Proof is Lacking

The BBC goes on to state that “there have not been satisfactory drug trials to prove the safety and effectiveness” of this medication, which is an argument against its use. The Guardian writes that one can’t deny the medicinal value of CBD and THC, which is something the British government has been trying to do for years while approving the growth and export of the world’s biggest medicinal cannabis crop. “The landmark decision in November 2018 to allow UK doctors to prescribe cannabis under extremely limited circumstances, inspired by the cases of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, whose epilepsy is improved immeasurably by medicinal cannabis products containing both THC and CBD, has left many in a limbo: knowing or believing that cannabis offers a cure, yet remaining unable to access it.”

As a result of this, a number of parents have famously announced they’d decided to take their children abroad to get treatment.

Comparison to the USA

Marijuana-derived CBD products are legal under some state laws, and hemp-derived CBD products are legal on the federal level unless their THC content is more than 0.3 percent. It’s important to check the laws in the state you live in and, if you’re traveling to another country and plan to take your CBD oil with you, the local laws.

Sound confusing?

That’s because it is. In the USA, laws surrounding cannabidiol compounds have been murky for quite some time. In 2018, the hemp was legalized nationwide under the Farm Bill, which also legalized all hemp-based products. Among them is CBD. In theory at least, this would mean that the compound is legal across the US. Yet, that’s not always the case. Since individual states can pass their own laws, the actual rules for use of CBD products can vary between states.

One main reason for this is because states have varying opinions on cannabis in general. In Colorado, recreational use of marijuana is legal. Since any citizen of the state over the age of 21 can buy marijuana, they can obviously buy any CBD product of their choosing as well. However, many other states reject the possibility of putting a medical marijuana program in place and are firmly against any extent of legalization. Although CBD products are derived from legal hemp, the compound is placed in a precarious situation.

What Do They Have in Common?

Just like in Great Britain, CBD is not regulated in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is customarily responsible for these issues. However, it has been slow to regulate the cannabidiol market, and businesses are still waiting. Right now, everyone is holding their breath to see if the FDA will make a move in the direction of regulation to help keep consumers safe, especially when it comes to rogue traders and poor quality products, some of which don’t even contain any CBD. You also have unqualified people selling CBD products as a cure all remedy, which is not helpful and often totally misleading.

Each US state has a slightly different stance on CBD. As noted, hemp-derived CBD products containing a maximum of 0.3% THC are legal on a federal level. Nevertheless, different states may have legislators and attitudes that stand in the way of easy access to the compound despite its health benefits.

Laws regarding the compound seem to be changing at the speed of light, so be sure to always stay updated. You never know what the near future holds when it comes to CBD oil.

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