The Legality of CBD in the UK

CBD UK is a popular product that is sold in high street shops. However, it is important to note that the quality of these products varies significantly. A Defence Science and Technology Laboratory report found that some products contained more than 5mg of 9-THC, which could cause psychoactive effects similar to a standard alcohol unit.


With CBD’s popularity rising rapidly, it is important to understand the UK legality of this product. CBD is legal in the UK and most other European countries as long as the product contains less than 1mg of THC per container. However, it is still illegal to buy and possess cannabis products containing THC in the UK, even with a prescription.

The legality of CBD in the UK depends on its concentration in the plant and whether the plant is grown under a licence or not. In general, only those who have a licence to grow marijuana can make CBD oil. This is because the plant needs to be grown under a Schedule 1 controlled drugs licence. This means that the plants must be kept in a very controlled environment to ensure there is no contamination from other phytocannabinoids, which are also regulated.

Despite this, CBD has become very popular in the UK and is available in many high-street shops, such as Holland and Barrett. It can be bought in capsules, edible products such as sweets and hummus and oils and sprays. It is advised to consume a maximum of 70mg per day.

Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD does not have any psychoactive properties and therefore will not show up on a drug test. However, it is important to note that CBD oil should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment, as only licensed medicinal cannabis products are legally available in the UK. These are prescribed by a doctor on the GMC’s specialist register or as part of a clinical trial.


CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical that’s extracted from the leaves and flowers of a cannabis plant. CBD doesn’t contain the psychoactive compound THC that’s found in the cannabis plant and therefore doesn’t cause the ‘high’ associated with cannabis. As a result, it’s legal in the UK to buy and sell CBD supplements as long as they don’t contain more than 0.2% THC.

CBD is available in a variety of forms including capsules, drops and gummies. Different products have different concentrations of CBD and the dosage you need will depend on your symptoms, height, weight and body composition. For example, people with larger bodies will need to take more CBD to feel the same effects as someone with a lighter body.

Research shows that CBD has been effective at reducing seizure frequency and severity in people with refractory epilepsy. However, this research has been carried out in small randomised controlled trials using isolated CBD or whole-plant extracts in hard oral capsules and sublingual oil. These studies have a high risk of bias. Ideally, we would have liked to have seen plasma concentrations reported in these RCTs to enable direct comparison of outcomes.

It’s important to remember that CBD supplements haven’t been subjected to the same scrutiny and testing as medicinal products. As a result, they mustn’t be sold or promoted as having medicinal benefits and should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Side Effects

CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, but unlike its psychoactive cousin, THC, it does not produce a ‘high’. It is classed as a food supplement rather than a drug in the UK and can be bought legally in health food shops, provided it contains no THC. However, a recent analysis of products on the market found two-thirds contained less than the declared amount of CBD, while seven contained another controlled cannabinoid called cannabinol (CBN).

The popularity of CBD has been driven by claims it can ease anxiety and pain. But the evidence for these benefits is weak, and there are concerns over quality and safety. The Food Standards Agency warns that products sold in health food shops may not be safe, with vulnerable people – such as pregnant women and those taking anti-psychotic medicines – at particular risk of side effects, including tiredness and a change to appetite.

CBD is available as an oil to be consumed or applied to the skin. The most common dosage is 20 to 40mg per day. The oil is usually taken using a dropper or spray and held under the tongue for 30 seconds to a minute before swallowing. In the UK, CBD is available on prescription from a GP if they are on a specialist register. This includes doctors at NHS trusts, who must follow the same procedures as private practitioners to prescribe unlicensed special medicines. Two medicinal cannabis products containing CBD are already licensed in the UK: Sativex, a mouth spray that contains equal parts THC and CBD and is prescribed to treat spasticity associated with MS; and Epidiolex, which has been licensed to reduce seizures in children with severe forms of epilepsy.


CBD can be found in the high street and online, where a range of products is on offer, including oils for vaping or ingesting via plastic syringes as well as capsules, muscle gels, sprays and other edibles. There are even CBD-infused ice cream and beer. However, the majority of these products are classed as a food supplement and not medicine so don’t have the same level of regulation. As such, research into their claims – from reducing depression to relieving anxiety and pain – is limited.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) warns that people should not consume more than 70mg of CBD oil per day, and advises vulnerable groups to avoid it altogether. It says that pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and people taking medication should also steer clear of it.

While pre-clinical evidence suggests CBD could help some symptoms, it hasn’t been proved in human trials, and there is a lot of hype surrounding its use. In addition, CBD has been linked to raised liver enzyme levels in some people, which can cause a build-up of toxins.

Prof O’Sullivan worries that the popularity of CBD is driving consumers to rely on unregulated supplements, and she is concerned that retailers are capitalising on its ‘halo of wellness’. She is also worried that the VMD blog will fuel expectations among pet owners that their vets can prescribe CBD for their pets.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *