As of February 2020, new CBD food/drink products require a Novel Food Application. Any food or drink containing CBD are considered novel foods. They require premarket authorisation, any CBD manufacturer wanting to produce CBD food or drink is required to apply.
Cannabis is a class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, although CBD is not listed under cannabis. This has resulted in some confusion.
To lift the confusion surrounding CBD and its laws, it’s helpful to understand exactly what CBD is:
CBD as a Novel Food
This has led to people believing they can grow their own cannabis/hemp for CBD use. It’s actually illegal to grow your own cannabis/hemp in the UK and there are a few strict regulations:
The fact CBD is non intoxicating, doesn’t produce any euphoric effects and make you ‘high’ in the same way as THC are big reasons why it is legal in the UK.
Example of CBD Novel Foods:
CBD is a compound that comes from the Sativa cannabis plant. Here are two main classifications of cannabis plants depending on their compound contents, these are called Hemp and Marijuana.
Cosmetic products is a lower risk area for selling CBD enhanced products from a legal persepctive. Compliance can be assured by verifying legal THC content and using CBD that has not been extracted from the flowers or buds of the plant.
The Extract has a summary of all you need to know about the UK CBD oil legislation, we will help answer the question, Is CBD legal in UK and where the UK is on the road to cannabis legalisation. Updated constantly to give you the most up to date information on CBD UK and EU laws.
Novel Foods UK
UK regulatory framework in respect of the CBD and cannabis industry is complex the belief that anything is legal below 0.2% THC is a myth. You now need Novel foods certification for edibles, novel foods does not apply to vaping CBD or cosmetics.
UK criminal law in which THC falls is not “grey” concerning controlled substances. Any business that does not take the considerable steps to satisfy themselves that its products do not contain illegal levels of controlled substances puts itself (and its directors) at risk of serious criminal charges. When asked is CBD legal in UK we can still say yes but follow the guidelines and keep within the THC limits.
The FSA in the UK is now enforced from April 1st 2021, The EU Food Standard Agency being different will follow its own processes, it has yet to be seen whether it will begin to enforce in the same timeframe. To comply in the UK you will have needed to be selling or in the process of selling CBD prior to the announcement back in Feb 2020 and have the Novel foods application in by March 30th 2020, this will allow you to sell CBD until the application has been processed and it meets the standards set out, once validated you will be able to continue to sell CBD in the UK. If the novel foods application is rejected you must remove the products from sale in the UK regardless of THC or CBD levels, unless you have a pending legal action against the decision and have been given clarification by the FSA to indicate you can sell till it is heard.
The CBD sold here and in other UK shops is provided as a food supplement only. No medical benefits can be inferred and to do so breaks the law.
We spoke with Robert Jappie, partner at London law firm Ince who specialises in cannabis regulation in the UK and Europe. We wanted to gain the benefits of his expertise and share it here. Our first question was, is CBD legal? He said:
1. CBD cannot be sold as a medicine
“It is absolutely legal. Whether it be ingestibles, vapes or cosmetics… there is strict regulatory requirements in place to ensure that only quality products are sold to consumers.”
“Products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine. Medicinal products must have a product licence (marketing authorisation) before they can be legally sold, supplied or advertised in the UK, unless exempt.”
CBD supplements have not been subject to the scrutiny and testing required for a UK medicine. As a result they must not be sold or promoted as having medicinal benefits.