Those that have spent ample amounts of time trying to follow CBD oil U.K. law will be the first ones to tell you that the current situation in the United Kingdom is a pretty confusing one — to put it mildly. Most will say that organizations like the MHRA have been pretty stubborn in terms of acknowledging the demand for CBD products, but then again, we have seen big name high street retailers like Holland and Barrett rake in loads of revenue in recent months off of supposedly legal CBD “supplements.”
How are they doing it? Is CBD oil legal in the UK, or not? In this article, we try and answer that question as best we can.
| “Those who follow CBD oil U.K. law know firsthand that the current situation is a pretty confusing one…”
CBD Oil UK Law 2018: What You Need to Know
|IS CBD OIL LEGAL IN THE UK?||Simply put, yes. The MHRA has recognized CBD as a medicine, but in order for it to be sold as such, it needs to be properly licensed. (See below for more details).|
|WHAT ABOUT FLYING WITH CBD OIL TO THE UK?||Unless you are one of the very few people who has been granted a license to possess medicinal CBD oil, it is currently illegal to buy CBD oil in another country and fly to the UK with it.|
|CBD OIL FROM HOLLAND – IS IT LEGAL?||See above answer.|
|WHAT ABOUT CBD OIL BENEFITS?||Chief Medical Advisor for England, Dame Sally Davies, has been instrumental in the UK’s decision to reschedule cannabis. She has acknowledged “conclusive evidence of the therapeutic benefit of cannabis-based medicinal products,” particularly for the treatment of epilepsy. Other research studies have suggested a potential for CBD to help treat (among other things): chronic pain, stress/anxiety, arthritis, and sleep disorders.|
|ARE CBD OIL UK VAPE STORES LEGAL?||Much confusion still exists around the legality of CBD vape stores in the UK. Police have issued warrants in several instances to seize products, though store owners claim 100% legality. Currently, no arrests have been made (at least that we are aware of) for infractions under the Misuse of Drugs Act.|
Several reputable media outlets in the UK reported throughout 2018 that medicinal cannabis – including CBD oil – would be attainable by prescription later in the year (autumn 2018). Indeed, new legislation has passed that allows specialist doctors (not General Practitioners) to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis (including both THC and CBD products) to patients who need it.
The legislation had been a long time coning, particularly after Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the decision to relax previous legislation (which has existed since 1971) under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
In fact, Secretary Javid has made the decision to out-and-out reschedule medicinal cannabis, at least for those suffering from a verifiable medical condition:
“Recent cases involving sick children made it clear that our position on cannabis-related medicinal products was not satisfactory,” Javid is quoted as saying. “[Thus] I have taken the decision to reschedule cannabis-derived medicinal products — meaning they will be available on prescription.”
| “Home Secretary Sajid Javidi’s decision to reschedule medicinal cannabis is wonderful news for all people concerned about CBD oil UK laws.”
This is, of course, great news for all people concerned about CBD oil UK laws, though it by no means implies that cannabis oil will be readily – or easily – attainable for anyone. In fact, Secretary Javid went on to say that “…this [decision] will help patients with an exceptional clinical need, but is in no way a first step to the legalisation of cannabis for recreational use [in the UK].”
So What Does This All Mean?
Basically, Javid’s statements (along with the new legislation that was passed November 1, 2018) mean that UK residents with a serious medical ailment can apply for a medical cannabis prescription, as long as they receive recommendation from a licensed specialist clinician.
The kicker, however, is that clinicians must deem an “exceptional clinical circumstance” exists wherein “no other lawful medicinal [other than cannabis] is available that would meet the specific needs of the patient.”
Unfortunately, the new rules will likely not affect those looking to obtain high-quality cannabis CBD oil (such as those available in the Netherlands) without a medical recommendation.
That said, as most of you already know CBD oil is currently legal and readily available in many parts of the UK – primarily through high street specialty stores (health food stores, vape shops, etc).
As it turns out, however, there can be a big difference between these products and the medicinal products that you would find in places like the U.S. and Holland.
| “There is a big difference between the CBD “supplements” here in the UK, and medicinal CBD oils that you find in places like Holland and the U.S.”
Tannine Montgomery, a CBD oil advocate and mother of a 4-year old epileptic girl, knows firsthand the difference in quality between CBD “hemp oil supplements” that you can find in places like Holland and Barrett, and actual cannabis CBD oils that are available in dispensaries.
Tannine’s young daughter Indie suffers from a rare form of pediatric epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, and the mother has experienced incredible results using cannabis-derived CBD oil as a therapeutic treatment. However, she experienced less-than-convincing effects using “supplements” from the high street:
“Previously we’d tried the high-street cannabis oil that is legal here [in Suffolk], which helped some of the time, but not all — because it is not medicinal cannabis.”
So what is this stuff that places like Holland and Barrett are selling — is it legal? And more importantly, is it even CBD oil?
CBD Oil UK Law: A General Summary
Places like Holland and Barrett (and other retail locations) are able to legally sell CBD oils on the high street because they are advertising them as “nutrition supplements,” rather than medicinal/health products.
| “Places like Holland and Barrett are selling legal CBD oils because they are advertising them as “nutrition supplements” rather than medicine.”
Back in 2016, the MHRA officially acknowledged CBD oil benefits in terms of their therapeutic potential, but they also made it clear that anyone selling CBD oil for medicinal purposes must have the products properly licensed as a medicine.
The “loophole,” so to speak, is that sellers have NOT been advertising them for medicinal purposes, but rather as “nutrition supplements” – making certain not to correlate any medical conditions or health aspects with their use.
Moreover, sellers have been extracting the active CBD compound from hemp rather than marijuana, since hemp containing less than 0.2% THC is not included under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act – and is therefore legal in the UK.
GENERAL SUMMARY OF CBD OIL UK LAWS
- CBD oils that are made from hemp (with less than 0.2% THC) are legal in the UK — as long as they are advertised and sold as “nutrition supplements” rather than medicine
- As of November 1, 2018, cannabis CBD oils with higher amounts of THC are available by prescription use only in the UK
- The quality and therapeutic effectiveness of legal CBD “hemp oil supplements” can be hit or miss
- Any CBD oil advertised and/or sold as a medicine must have proper medicinal licensing from the MHRA
| “As long as they are advertised as “supplements” rather than medicine, CBD oils with less than 0.2% THC are fully legal in the UK…”
Looking to Buy? CBD Oil UK Laws Aren’t Making it Easy for Customers…
Even though hemp-derived CBD oils with less than 0.2% THC are legal to sell in the UK, this doesn’t exactly mean they have all of the same benefits of higher grade “medicinal” products.
In fact, some UK sellers have been accused of simply bottling up hemp seed oil – or even infused olive oil – and selling it on the high street as “CBD oil” when in fact it contains virtually none of the active compound.
A few reliable companies (such as CiiTECH’s Provacan label) have been fully compliant with the MHRA and organizations like the UK Cannabis Trade Association, but these CBD oils are typically only available online, for fear of being seized in retail locations.
| “Some UK sellers have been accused of bottling up hemp seed oil or even infused olive oil, and selling it on the high street as ‘CBD oil’…”
The good news for UK citizens is that companies like Provacan – as well as several others – are able to ship nationwide, as well as to other countries within the EU. It may be a little less convenient than simply purchasing from a retail store on the high street, but in the long run, if you’re looking for the true therapeutic benefits of CBD oil, it’s likely the most reliable way to go.
How do you get a Prescription for Medicinal CBD Oil in the UK?
You may be wondering “OK, now that medicinal CBD oil is legal in the UK by prescription, how do I get a prescription?”
Well, it unfortunately doesn’t appear that the process is going to be an easy one, as legislation has made it rather inconvenient for clinicians to be able to actually write the prescription. And indeed, many doctors are wary of medically recommending cannabis CBD oil as they simply are not familiar enough with its range of therapeutic benefits.
In an article published by The Evening Standard, Dr. Zoe Williams has said that obtaining medical CBD will not be very straightforward for patients. And even if it were, she claims that she would not be quick to write a prescription:
“[The new legislation] sounds good on paper, but we just need to be realistic about what this really means in real terms … My local pharmacy wouldn’t be able to dispense it [medical CBD oil], [and] I haven’t got the expertise or knowledge to weight up if that’s in my patient’s best interest.”
If you are a UK resident and would like to try and apply for a prescription to obtain medicinal quality cannabis/CBD oil, you will have to first “apply for a license under a temporary approval panel,” at which point the panel will “consider the merits” of your individual case so as to establish whether appropriate criteria have been met.
Moreover, any specialist physician who does wish to write a prescription for the new CBD oil UK law, will have to (as we mentioned earlier) prove that “exceptional clinical circumstances” exist, and that no other legally approved medicine has worked to treat the condition.
Applications can be made by submitting the appropriate forms and documents (which are accessible via the gov.uk website) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Have any comments, questions or firsthand experience with CBD oil UK law? Be sure to comment below!]
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