EducationAre CBD edibles legal in the UK? Guidelines and restrictions

Are CBD edibles legal in the UK? Guidelines and restrictions

7 min read

Lucy MacKinnon

Are CBD edibles legal in the UK? Guidelines and restrictions

Contents

While CBD use is on the rise in the United Kingdom, with trendy coffee shops even offering to add a few drops to your flat white for a small extra charge, there is still some confusion surrounding its legal status in the UK. This is perhaps particularly true when it comes in the form of CBD edibles, with many wondering if it’s a prohibited substance.

It’s true that laws and regulations concerning CBD products are country-specific, with some nations enforcing much stricter rules around the purchase and use of CBD oil and edibles. The UK, however, is fortunately not one of these countries. In fact, CBD edibles are a huge industry here. 

So, a quick answer to the question ‘Are CBD edibles legal in the UK’ is a simple ‘yes’. However, it doesn’t hurt to get educated on the UK’s regulations on cannabis-derived goods to be sure you’re always on the right side of the law. Below, we’ll take you through all the relevant info about CBD edible legality so you can feel confident in your CBD purchases and consumption. 

What is CBD?

CBD – short for cannabidiol – is a cannabinoid compound that is drawn out from the cannabis or hemp plant. It’s actually one of over 110 cannabinoid compounds found in the complex cannabis sativa L. plant, another being the more well-known psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. Typically, CBD is combined with a carrier oil, like the coconut-derived MCT oil. This is an important step as it allows the cannabinoid’s molecules to dissolve so they can be better absorbed by the body.

Cannabinoids occur naturally in the hemp plant and, amazingly, our own human bodies produce related substances called ‘endocannabinoids’. These contribute to the body’s essential functions, like mood, metabolism, and sleep. CBD and other phyto – or plant-derived – cannabinoids can mimic these same functions, which is why they’re often credited with helping people feel relaxed, hungry, or sleepy. 

What are CBD edibles?

CBD edibles are anything you can eat or drink that contains CBD oil. Examples of this include CBD gummies or lollipops, which often come in a variety of flavours. You can also find CBD oil in a range of beverages, like tea, coffee and hot chocolate. 

The effects of CBD can be felt once the edible is broken down in the digestive system, allowing the cannabidiol to be absorbed. This usually occurs around an hour after eating, and the effects typically last for several hours after that.  

Do CBD edibles make you high?

Unlike the more famous THC cannabinoid, CBD is not psychoactive and therefore does not make you feel high. People get confused about this fact as the term's cannabis, cannabinoids, THC and CBD are regularly used either interchangeably or in conjunction with each other. 

Here are the terms, each distinctly defined to help clarify what they each mean:

  • Cannabis – This describes the substance more commonly known as ‘weed’. However, it actually refers to the plant family comprising both cannabis and hemp – both of which contain THC and CBD compounds. THC is psychoactive and can make you feel high if you ingest a certain amount. CBD, meanwhile, does not, no matter how much you consume. Hemp only produces minimal levels of THC.
  • Hemp – Hemp is another type of cannabis plant. It contains high levels of CBD and lower quantities of THC. For this reason, it’s the plant that’s usually used to extract CBD for edibles. It may contain trace levels of THC, but not enough to make you feel intoxicated.

The takeaway from this is that, while CBD and THC are both cannabis-derived cannabinoids, they do not have the same properties or effects. CBD is non-psychoactive and will not make you feel high. THC, on the other hand, is psychoactive and can make you feel intoxicated. It is this intoxication aspect that influences the law surrounding the use of these substances. As a result, CBD consumption is completely legal. 

Are CBD edibles legal in the UK?

Now that we've cleared up any confusion about what CBD is, we can clearly answer the question: are CBD edibles legal in the UK? And the answer is a resounding yes! The cannabis laws in place in the UK are strictly in reference to the psychoactive THC in cannabis products – not its gentle and non-psychoactive counterpart, CBD. 

CBD goods are legal in the UK, however, they do need to meet certain criteria. One of which is that the CBD product must contain no more than a trace level of 0.2% THC. To ensure this is always the case, suppliers use specific strains of hemp that contain very low levels of THC. 

UK cannabis laws

In the United Kingdom, the growing, production, supplying or possession of any banned substance is illegal unless specifically authorised for scientific or medical study. This is in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Notably, Cannabidiol (CBD) is no longer listed as a controlled substance in the UK. Rather, it is acknowledged as having potential health and wellness benefits. 

It is therefore not unlawful in any way to produce hemp-derived CBD goods, as long as they contain less than 0.2% THC. The ingredients and THC strength must be clearly indicated on the product packaging. External, third-party lab reports must also be presented by any CBD manufacturer in order to verify the potency and safety of its products. Failure to meet these conditions could result in criminal charges. 

To summarise, CBD edibles are legal in the UK provided they:

  • Contain a maximum of 0.2% THC
  • Clearly state their ingredients and CBD potency on the label
  • Are third-party tested for THC strength and safety

Are THC edibles legal in the UK?

As stated, THC is listed as a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and no cannabis-derived product containing more than 0.2% THC can be sold or consumed legally. Therefore, THC edibles are not legal in the UK unless they are prescribed by a doctor. 

The wrap up

The purchase and consumption of CBD edibles are legal. However, it’s advisable that you’re diligent about checking labels to ensure all UK laws are being met and that your CBD product is safe for ingestion. To do this, you can check the packaging for its ingredients list and THC potency indicator – remember, it should not exceed 0.2%. It’s recommended that you ask your supplier about the third-party lab test results as well. Any reputable CBD brand will be transparent about any and all testing. 

You should also bear in mind that, while CBD edibles are legal in the UK, they may not be in other countries. So if you plan to travel with your CBD products, make sure you check the laws in your destination country as well as your airline’s regulations to avoid any legal mishaps.

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Authors

With five years of journalism and healthcare content creation under her belt, Lucy strives to improve medical cannabis awareness and access in the UK by producing high quality, credible content.

Our articles are written by experts and reviewed by medical professionals or compliance specialists. Adhering to stringent sourcing guidelines, we reference peer-reviewed studies and scholarly research. View our editorial policy.

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