Is CBD Legal In The UK?

Is CBD Legal In The UK?
While Cannabidiol (CBD) is something that the health industry has been raving about for quite some time, it hasn’t been legal in the UK until recently.

In spite of its relation to the controversial plant, Cannabis, CBD has still managed to round up a lot of people in its favour.

In fact, Cannabis Trade Association UK stated that the number of Cannabidiol consumers rose from 125,000 in 2017 to 250,000 in 2018. That’s a staggering 100% increase in growth!

Recent research and studies have stated a wide array of possible health benefits of CBD. However, only a few of the reported benefits have been confirmed or proven conclusively by the relevant authorities.

But why is CBD suddenly everyone’s favourite now? It’s not because of a study showing to be some miracle drug which is going to make all the problems in your life disappear. The answer is more mundane: it was a change in legislation which prompted this renewed interest in cannabinoids.

What you’ll get from this page

Cannabinoids In Cannabis

The Cannabis plant comprises of 104 chemical cannabinoids, two of which are of special interest to researchers. Those two are CBD and THC.

Cannabis is more popular for getting “high,” thanks to THC, which is a psychoactive cannabinoid. But what most people don’t know is that cannabis also contains hundreds of cannabinoids which are thought to have a variety of medical properties. One of them is CBD.

Now that people are getting aware of the benefits of CBD, they are eager to use it but don’t know if they should.

Because of its association with cannabis, many people are wondering if it’s even legal. This is the question this article addresses.

You can learn more about CBD, its products, and its benefits in this article.

CBD Law In The UK


Cannabis was classified as a controlled drug by the Misuse of Drugs Regulation Act of 1971. It was also placed under Schedule 1 in 2001. According to the 2001 act, cannabis has no medicinal value whatsoever.

So, is CBD legal? And is it allowed in the UK?

While cannabis is illegal in the UK, its derivative CBD is not. Furthermore, it’s not recognised as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Regulation Act.

However, there’s a caveat.

CBD products are only legal in the UK as long as they contain under 1mg of THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid. Moreover, THC must not be easily separated from CBD.

This applies more to CBD oil which is the leading CBD product in the market right now.

CBD for personal use

CBD products can be used for personal use as stated by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency).

However, if they are advertised as medicines, pharmaceutical companies would need a license for it. This is a problem, as licenses for CBD products to be used as medicines are not being granted.

The result of this bizarre regulatory situation is that CBD products can be legally sold as long as they don’t claim to offer any health benefits. There is just one exception:

Any CBD product containing more than 1mg of THC is not allowed in the UK unless approved by the MHRA.

Such is the case with Sativex. Sativex is comprised of 50% THC and 50% CBD and is a licensed medicine by the MHRA. This medicine targets multiple sclerosis.

In 2014, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence stated that, while the medical benefit of Sativex is not in doubt, they do not recommend it as it is not cost-effective.

Licencing problems are common. According to this BBC article, the licensing of medical cannabis is held back by the fact that there haven’t been enough satisfactory drug trials to prove the safety and effectiveness of the medicine.

Hence, it can only be prescribed to patients in case no other licensed medicines can cure their illness.

A New Beginning In CBD Law

CBD On Prescription

Things took a turn for the better when a new law was released. As of November 2018, UK doctors were able to prescribe CBD oil containing more than 0.2% THC, but only under extremely limited circumstances.

This change in the law was deemed necessary because of the cases of two boys. Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley had epilepsy. Their symptoms improved considerably by using medical cannabis.

This incident, coupled with the fact that cannabis can now be legally prescribed, has left UK citizens in a state of confusion. While the British government does acknowledge that derivatives of medical cannabis can have health benefits, they are not readily available to the people who may need them.

As a result, there have been multiple high-profile cases in which the citizens of the UK had to move to other countries, where CBD was legally prescribed, so they could get treatment for themselves or their loved ones.

 One of the cases is Julie Galloway. Julie was a desperate parent who left Scotland for the Netherlands in order to find prescribed CBD oil for her 7-year-old daughter, Alexa.  

Alexa had a serious form of epilepsy. She would experience seizures lasting up to 20 minutes, during which she couldn’t breathe and would turn blue.

Fortunately for the mother-daughter duo, they came across CBD oil. After treating her daughter with prescribed CBD oil, Julie stated that her daughter’s seizures now only last for about 20 seconds and have been reduced by 60-70%.

CBD For Animals

Strangely enough, and although CBD products are legal in the UK for people (with the above restrictions), they are not legal for pets.

You can find CBD products like dog treats and oils on the market. However, none of them is legal or licensed, unless prescribed by a vet.

This is because of the lack of drug trials and research necessary for CBD products to be licensed for animal use.

Is CBD A Drug According To UK Law?

No. CBD is not a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Regulation Act. Therefore, it does not count as a drug in the UK.

However, will its users test positive during a drug test?

If you’re a CBD user and have to undergo a drug test, you will test negative. Drug tests are designed to identify THC, so as long as your CBD oil is legal it will contain too little THC to test positive.

However, there’s one possible problem with that. Research has shown that up to two-thirds of the CBD products on the market are mislabelled. They may contain more than the claimed amount of THC.

Remember, THC levels more than 1mg are illegal unless prescribed by a doctor!


To summarize about the legal state of CBD in the UK:

  1. CBD is legal as long as it is not advertised as a medicine and contains less than 1mg of THC.
  2.  As of November 2018, doctors are allowed to prescribe CBD oil which contains more than 1mg of THC. But this is only under limited circumstances.
  3.  CBD oil is illegal for pets unless prescribed by a vet.

With public pressure mounting against the British government, many believe it’s just a matter of time before legislation regarding cannabis becomes more lenient. Watch this space for future updates!

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