Scientists are making incredible discoveries into the benefits of CBD and related products but does that mean that CBD always meets legal standards? CBD’s legality is something that confuses many people and the UK law is slowly providing more clarity around CBD products. The short answer is that CBD products are completely legal within the UK and regulations are continuing to develop.
Independent research is being conducted that shows the incredible potential of the cannabis plant. In 2018, a drug known as Sativex was introduced in the UK for patients suffering from multiple sclerosis. This drug contained 1:1 of CBD and THC potency meaning that those who suffer from MS were able to access medical-grade marijuana.
While guidelines are sometimes strict and confusing, high-quality CBD is in demand within the UK and Ireland. Hemp, which contains high levels of CBD and almost no THC, is legal to cultivate in the UK and you can gain a Home Office license to grow. Stipulations insist that only preparations containing mature stalk, the fibre, or the seeds can be used. We delve into why this is the case.
The Origins of Cannabis Law
The cannabis plant has been used for centuries with its use being recorded in Ancient China as well as in Greco-Roman cultures. It has only been within this last century that we have seen strict regulation around the plant and even the cultivation of hemp.
There is evidence to suggest that hemp was grown agriculturally as far back as the Ice Age. In the written record, however, the first uses of the cannabis plant were mentioned in Ancient China. Emperor Shen Nung, who was considered the ‘Father of Chinese Medicine’ suggested that cannabis or marijuana tea could be used to treat those who suffered from an ailing memory, rheumatism, gout, and even malaria.
With the opening of the Silk Road, hemp was brought to mainland Europe and even Britain. The infamous Henry VIII was gifted hemp by Indian and Chinese travellers to which he insisted that all farmers grow hemp or be met with fines. This rich history within the United Kingdom naturally transferred into the medical practices of the people.
For thousands of years, medical practitioners were prescribing it as a treatment, so it is unsurprising that medical cannabis was being used. Another drug that was popular for treatment was morphine, which had disastrous effects on society. Morphine is highly addictive and, naturally, caused many people to have issues with the drug through the 19th Century.
Fast forward to the 20th Century and, in 1906, the Food and Drug Administration or the FDA was brought into fruition which saw an act in the same year being created: the Pure Food and Drug Act. This legislation was used until 1914 when drug use was considered a crime for the first time in history. However, cannabis was still available for medicinal and industrial purposes.
This was until the United Kingdom made recreational drug use illegal in 1928 which was followed in 1971 with President Nixon’s decision to control the general populace by labelling cannabis as a class B substance under his Misuse of Drugs Act.
Due to its class status, cannabis was determined to not have any medicinal use in the U.S. Advisors to Nixon have since claimed that this was a way of controlling People of Colour and the ‘hippies’ at the time as they were receiving backlash over the Vietnam War. The UK followed this decision in 1971.
CBD as a Health Supplement
While severe regulations were being brought in for branches of the cannabis plant, there was much discovery being made by scientists who were investigating it. In the 1930s, a British chemist called Robert S. Cahn made a breakthrough by discovering the first partial structure of CBN or cannabinol which led to its full identification in 1940.
In 1942, another chemist, this time an American, called Roger Adams was able to identify and isolate CBD and then THC. This was the beginning of research to find out what components caused the psychoactive properties associated with the cannabis plant and why this happened within our bodies.
The most important discoveries surrounding CBD were discovered by Dr Raphael Mechoulam. Known as the ‘Godfather of CBD’, Mechoulam ran tests on eight epilepsy patients and the use of CBD. He treated them with 300 milligrams of CBD every day over a period of four months. This produced significant results. 50% of the subjects stopped having seizures entirely while the other 50% noticed a considerable improvement in the frequency of their seizures.
By the 1990s, the endocannabinoid, Anandamide was found, which was followed by the discovery of the endocannabinoid system entirely. It was found that this signaling system within the human body was how the components of THC and CBD interacted with our systems and could offer massive benefits to users, particularly those suffering from chronic conditions.
Through this discovery, California re-legalised medical marijuana in 1996, which saw other states do the same for the next ten years as well as countries worldwide relaxing their laws. This made way for essential trials and research to learn more about the impact of CBD and other potential benefits the cannabis plant could have on the human body.
What is CBD Law in the UK?
CBD law in the UK is very strict but there continue to be developments in how it is regulated. Currently, CBD products can only be sold as a food supplement - not for medicinal use. The only thing that is illegal is THC. The maximum legal limit of THC in CBD products is 0.2mg per container.
Still an unregulated market within the UK, CBD products that are processed outside of the UK are also legal but they cannot contain any CBN or THC as they are controlled substances. Any brand that wants to sell CBD products in the UK has to submit a Novel Food Application.
While the Misuse of Drugs Act makes no distinction between marijuana, cannabis or hemp, it is possible to access medicinal cannabis with a prescription in special cases within the United Kingdom.
Recent Law - The Novel Food Applications
In the United Kingdom, the Food Standards Agency set a deadline for all UK CBD companies to submit a Novel Food Application by the 31st of March 2021. This was specifically for products like CBD oil and capsules which are consumable. Things like topical products were not included due to them having to comply with cosmetic regulations.
During this period, no new CBD products for consumption can be allowed on the market without a fully authorised application. This means that consumable CBD products that have launched after the 13th of February cannot remain for sale. All our products in CBD Farmacy comply with this law meaning they can remain for sale while the authorisation is undergoing.
The Novel Food Applications is venturing that there will be better quality CBD products on the market with tighter regulations around the products you are able to buy - making it safer for you.
The Development of CBD Today
Regulation of the CBD market is a good thing, as many retailers pass products off as "CBD Products" when many of them contain extremely small amounts of the compound, making it somewhat misleading. CBD Farmacy is committed to delivering high-quality CBD products that bring benefits to our customers.