Is hemp tea legal in the UK?

Is hemp tea legal in the UK?


Founder of the UK Cannabis Social Clubs, Greg is considered an expert on all things cannabis. Greg campaigned for the medical cannabis laws we now operate under appearing on the BBC, in The Times, Telegraph and has been published in the British Medical Journal.

Hemp tea is a tea made from the flowers or leaves of the hemp plant. Hemp is a one part of the cannabis sativa L. genus, but is also quite different to what most people think when they hear the word "cannabis". While hemp does contain trace amounts of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the intoxicating compound produced in cannabis varieties, it is generally much lower in concentration compared to other cannabis varieties. This makes hemp tea a suitable and legal option for those living in the UK, as long as it is produced from hemp plants that contain less than 0.2% THC.

Although it doesn’t contain THC, hemp tea can contain other cannabinoids, like CBD and CBG, especially when it’s made from the flowers of the hemp plant. It can also contain terpenes. Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in plants. They’re responsible for the aromas, flavours and even colours of vegetation, but emerging research is also pointing towards their potential therapeutic benefits.

Over the past few years, medical cannabis and hemp tea have become increasingly popular as a health supplement not only here in the UK, but worldwide. With the growing interest in CBD and other cannabinoids, many people are turning to hemp tea as a natural, healthy, and legal way to consume these compounds. The cannabinoids and terpenes contained in the tea have been shown to help support heart health, alleviate chronic pain, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep.

Because hemp is closely related to cannabis, a lot of people wonder if tea made from the plant is legal in the UK. To help put your mind at ease, and understand the health benefits of the supplement, we’re taking an in-depth look at hemp, hemp tea, and the UK law that affects them.

What is hemp tea?

Hemp tea is a tea made from the flowers or leaves of the hemp plant. Hemp is closely related to cannabis, but has a much lower THC content. Because THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, this means that hemp won’t give you a ‘high’ like its more potent cousin, cannabis.

However, while hemp doesn’t contain high levels of THC, it does contain CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes. As a result, it can provide many of the health benefits associated with cannabis without the psychoactive effects.

Hemp tea is made by steeping the dried flowers or leaves of the hemp plant in boiling water. In most cases, the dried hemp needs to be left in the water for 3–5 minutes before the tea is ready to drink.

So far, few studies have been carried out on the specific benefits of hemp tea. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that it has a number of beneficial properties, including:

  • It’s caffeine-free – Unlike some other types of tea, like black tea and white tea, hemp tea doesn’t contain caffeine. This means you can drink it before going to sleep and it won’t keep you awake.
  • It may help to promote sleep – Hemp tea contains CBD. CBD has been shown to help people fall asleep and stay asleep. In fact, some studies have found that CBD may improve sleep quality for people with conditions affecting the brain, like Parkinson’s disease.
  • It may help to reduce anxiety – A number of studies have suggested that taking CBD can help to reduce levels of anxiety. One study found that participants who took 300 mg of CBD a day showed significantly reduced levels of anxiety compared to those who were given a placebo. However, it’s worth noting that hemp tea generally contains much lower levels of CBD than the doses used in clinical studies.
  • It may ease mild pain – There is evidence to suggest that CBD can help with the management of chronic pain. It’s thought that the cannabinoid elicits a pain-relieving effect by interacting with our body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. However, without specific studies on hemp tea, this cannot be validated.
  • It could help support a healthy heart – A 2020 study found that CBD may have vasodilatory effects in human and rat arteries. The research suggested that CBD may improve flow because it widens blood vessels. What’s more, a 2021 study found that people with high blood pressure who took CBD observed a reduction in blood pressure after three months of use. Again, because this study is not specific to hemp tea, it is difficult to say with absolute certainty what the benefits will be.

Research into the effects of CBD and hemp tea is still in its early stages. More studies are needed before we know for sure exactly how these products interact with our bodies. With that said, the ever-growing body of scientific research that is available, and the number of testimonies from people around the world who have seen improvements in their health conditions thanks to hemp tea and CBD showcase its potential as a natural health supplement.

Is hemp tea legal in the UK?

According to The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it’s unlawful to cultivate any part of the cannabis plant in the UK. However, hemp and CBD products are legal to buy in the UK provided that the source plant contains less than 0.2% THC, and is limited to no more than 1 mg of THC per container.

Hemp is a cousin of cannabis, and most of the CBD and hemp used to make the tea is derived from industrial hemp. This was cultivated by the hemp industry for its fibres rather than its psychoactive properties. As a result, it’s naturally low in THC and so can be sold legally in the UK. As well as being low in THC, hemp tea must be milled or crushed, and cannot be sold as whole buds or unprocessed flowers, in order for the tea to be compliant with UK law.

Hemp tea is also subject to UK food standard rules and regulations. In January 2019, hemp was confirmed as a novel food product. Under novel food regulations, foods or food ingredients which do not have a history of consumption before May 1997 need to be evaluated and authorised before they can be placed on the market. In order to evaluate hemp and CBD products further, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) requested manufacturers to submit further information about their products and processes. Only products that submitted this information were allowed to remain on sale after 31st March 2021.

Authorised hemp and CBD products can be bought and sold legally in the UK. To ensure the products you’re buying are compliant with the law, always purchase tea from a brand with a good reputation and check the label for relevant certification. If you’re concerned that a product isn’t compliant with UK law, contact the manufacturer or the FSA to find out more.

Differences between hemp tea and cannabis

Hemp and cannabis are effectively made from the same plant and it’s a common misconception that they’re the same thing. However, there are some crucial differences between them. And it’s these differences that make one legal and one illegal in the UK.

The key difference between hemp tea and cannabis is the level of THC contained in the product. While cannabis and its derived products can contain high levels of THC, hemp does not. In fact, hemp products sold in the UK can contain no more than 0.2% THC.

The reason that the level of THC is so closely regulated is that THC is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Ingesting or inhaling THC can have a significant effect on both the brain and body. These effects include increased heart rate, dry mouth, reddening of the eyes, a reduction in intraocular pressure, muscle relaxation and a sensation of cold or hot hands and feet. People who take exceedingly high doses of THC can also experience a range of symptoms including anxiety, panic or, in rare cases, heavy paranoia.

Hemp tea is legal in the UK because it contains very low levels of THC. These levels are carefully controlled and regulated to ensure people who drink hemp tea don’t experience any psychoactive effects. However, it’s important to remember that, as well as being low in THC, hemp used to make tea needs to be milled or crushed and can’t be sold as whole buds or flowers.

Where to buy hemp tea in the UK

Hemp tea is now widely available in the UK. You can buy tea containing the dried leaves or flowers of the hemp plant from a number of online retailers. You can also find hemp teas in health food shops and farmers markets.

When buying hemp tea, look for products made from organic hemp. This will ensure it doesn’t contain any potentially harmful pesticides. It’s also important to check that the product you’re buying has been manufactured in line with UK law.


So, is hemp flower tea legal in the UK?

The answer is yes – provided that the product contains less than 0.2% THC and is limited to no more than 1 mg of THC per container. As long as you purchase from a reputable brand, you can enjoy all the potential health benefits of hemp tea without breaking the law. Hemp tea has been shown to offer a range of potential health benefits, and is an easy and enjoyable way to add CBD to your daily routine.

If you would like to learn more about the potential benefits of hemp tea, consult with a medical professional familiar with CBD. They will be able to provide more information about dosage, potential interactions with other medications, and any other specific concerns you may have.

Releaf understands that finding a doctor who is registered to prescribe medical cannabis can be difficult. That's why we offer online consultations with our specialist doctors, as well as a unique medical cannabis card for extra protection and access to the treatment you need. If you're interested in learning more about our services or getting access to medical cannabis treatment, get in touch and one of our team members will be happy to help.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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