CBD Oil and the UK Law

CBD Oil and the UK Law

CBD, also known as Cannabidiol, has become very useful in our daily lives due to its therapeutic value. Ever since its rise as a blessing without disguise to treat various ailments, there have been many questions concerning CBD’s legal use in the UK.

Here, we probe the legal implications related to CBD oil use in the country.

Legal Status of CBD Oil in the UK

All that is Legal

In October, November and December of 2016, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) ruled hemp-derived CBD products without medical claims as completely legal, allowing their sale as meal supplements. However, a medical registration is mandatory to support this claim. Additionally, such claims are illegal without a marketing licence. Till November 2018, no CBD products had been registered as medicine nor received marketing licences. (2)

Furthermore, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in CBD products should be restricted to less than 0.2% and should not be mixed with oil. 

All that is Illegal

In the UK, CBD-rich full hemp buds are illegal, but crushed hemp teas are legal. Though consumption of CBD isolates is prohibited, they can be inhaled or used as vapours. On the other hand, oral consumption of a variety of CBD oils is permitted. UK law does not allow marketing of CBD oil for pets.

NHS and Cannabis Prescription

Following changes to the legislation of 9 October 2018, the law permits the National Health Service (NHS) to prescribe cannabis. Although existing UK laws empower only a consultant to prescribe cannabis, it is believed that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is likely to frame guidelines in this area in the times to come.

Even though a broad range of regulations cover cannabis, the condition is that one must be a consultant to prescribe it.

Marijuana CBD and Hemp CBD—The Differences

CBD can be obtained from either hemp or marijuana. Hemp-based CBD contains up to 0.2% THC, whereas that acquired from marijuana contains up to 100 times more of the same compound. Consequently, hemp-CBD oil is not psychoactive at all, making it legal in many nations (including the UK). Marijuana-based CBD has the tendency to cause hallucinations, making it unlawful in most countries (including the UK).

CBD Laws in the Rest of Europe

Here is a summary of CBD laws in the leading nations of Europe:


France (4) permits cultivation of both hemp as well as CBD, restricting THC to 0.2%.


The Medical Marijuana Act of March 2017 allows cannabis and cannabis-derived medicines, including CBD oil, under a doctor’s prescription.

The Netherlands

The Dutch and their ‘open arms policy’ make CBD absolutely legal.


Italian law (7) permits hemp-based products, limiting their THC content to 0.6%.


In Spain, products having less than 0.2% THC are legal, though THC itself is prohibited.


Belgian laws allow possession of up to 3.5 grams of cannabis and CBD oil.


In Sweden, cannabis as well as THC is illegal but hemp is legal.


Swiss laws permit hemp plants/strains with 1% or lower THC content. The same benchmark applies to CBD.

CBD Laws in the United States

CBD laws in the United States are more complex than those in the UK because:

  1. Unlike the UK, the US market is huge
  2. Every US state has different laws
  3. The US healthcare system is majorly governed by private players

All 50 US states approve hemp-based CBD. Only 8 states allow cannabis (hemp and marijuana) for medication and relaxation purposes. Of the 46 states that have legalised CBD in medicines:

  • The amount of THC in CBD, even for allied medicinal purposes, is highly regulated in 17 states
  • Twenty-nine states permit all CBD yields procured from either hemp or marijuana
  • The permissible percentage of THC in CBD products for therapeutic purposes (as prescribed) differs in every state but ranges between 0.3% and 0.8%
  • Except for the states of Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, CDB derived from marijuana is permitted all across the US

However, since rules and regulations are subject to change, it is advisable to go through the most recent legislations for updated information.

UK’s CBD Oil Market

The UK market for CBD has grown from scratch to £50 million (12).  Nevertheless, in the USA, CBD is a billion-dollar industry.

As reported in The Hemp Business Journal,(13) CBD sales will exceed $2 billion by 2020, which is formidable as compared to that in 2015. Nearly 50% of this comes from hemp-derived products. Another source (14) traces the rise of CBD sales since 2014 and forecasts more than $1 billion in sales before 2022.


1. GOV.UK. (2018). MHRA statement on products containing Cannabidiol (CBD). [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mhra-statement-on-products-containing-cannabidiol-cbd [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
2. BBC News. (2018). What are the rules about cannabis oil in the UK?. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44534861 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
3. Legislation.gov.uk. (2018). [online] Available at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/1055/pdfs/uksi_20181055_en.pdf [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
4. Eiha.org. (2018). [online] Available at: http://eiha.org/media/2016/05/16-05-17-European-Hemp-Industry-2013.pdf [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
5. Loc.gov. (2018). Germany: Medical Marijuana Act Enters into Force | Global Legal Monitor. [online] Available at: http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/germany-medical-marijuana-act-enters-into-force/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
6. Wetten.overheid.nl. (2018). wetten.nl – Regeling – Opiumwet – BWBR0001941. [online] Available at: http://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0001941/2010-05-29 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
7. Gazzettaufficiale.it. (2018). Gazzetta Ufficiale. [online] Available at: http://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/atto/serie_generale/caricaDettaglioAtto/originario?atto.dataPubblicazioneGazzetta=2016-12-30&atto.codiceRedazionale=16G00258&elenco30giorni=true [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
8. Unodc.org. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.unodc.org/pdf/convention_1971_en.pdf [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
9. Ejustice.just.fgov.be. (2018). LOI – WET. [online] Available at: http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/loi_a1.pl10. Riksdagen.se. (2018). För ordering (1992:1554) om kontroll av narkotika Svensk författningssamling 1992:1992:1554 t.o.m. SFS 2018:1586 – Riksdagen. [online] Available at: https://www.riksdagen.se/sv/dokument-lagar/dokument/svensk-forfattningssamling/forordning-19921554-om-kontroll-av-narkotika_sfs-1992-1554 [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
11. P, B. (2018). CC 812.121 Federal Act of 3 October 1951 on Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (Narcotics Act, NarcA). [online] Admin.ch. Available at: https://www.admin.ch/opc/en/classified-compilation/19981989/index.html [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
12. CLEAR. (2018). The Facts about CBD in the UK. April 2018. – CLEAR. [online] Available at: https://www.clear-uk.org/facts-cbd-uk-april-2018/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
13. Sumner, W. (2018). Hemp Business Journal | #1 for Hemp News and Market Research. [online] Hemp Business Journal. Available at: http://www.hempbizjournal.com/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].
14. Statista. (2018). Total CBD consumer sales U.S. 2014-2022 | Statistic. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/760498/total-us-cbd-sales/ [Accessed 26 Oct. 2018].

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