CBD & UK Law

The law surrounding CBD products is not as simple as many would like. With three government departments at the wheel and a drugs law created nearly 48 years ago in full effect – CBD sellers need more clarity…

Thankfully at the UK CBD & Hemp trade show speakers addressed some of the key UK laws and regulations that apply to CBD suppliers and retailers. Here’s a summary of the key points.


Bud or flower is not legal. It breaks directly the misuse of drugs act. The 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act (MoDA) states that there must be full separation between the stalk, leaves and seeds for it not to be classed as cannabis.

Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, section 37:
[F1“ cannabis” (except in the expression “ cannabis resin”) means any plant of the genus Cannabis or any part of any such plant (by whatever name designated) except that it does not include cannabis resin or any of the following products after separation from the rest of the plant, namely—(a)mature stalk of any such plant,
(b)fibre produced from mature stalk of any such plant, and
(c)seed of any such plant;

Isolates in food are not legal. The CTA clarified this with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in 2018. It was agreed that the FSA would not worry about novel foods if the UK CBD industry complied with that.

CBD sellers must work within Food Law and GPSR (General product safety regulations). The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) were happy for the UK CBD market to continue as long as sellers complied with all the relevant laws, such as food laws and everything else.

A nano CBD product is not legal. However, Liposomes are legal.

Marketing Claims:

Medical claims mentioning any specific condition is not legal. CBD can be sold as a food supplement, vape, balm or as a cosmetic. You can’t make medical claims around any of those.

Anecdotal evidence is not legal. It’s an inferred medical claim. For example you cannot say: “My sister took CBD and her knee was better”.

Links to studies are not legal. This is because those studies around the world have not been performed in an efficacious, legal way according to European law. No studies have been done that meet the requirements of European law.

Links to customer reviews are not legal. This is deemed to be an inferred medical claim. They can’t say you’re product works, because they are inadvertently saying on your behalf that your product works.

“We have to work within the rules and if we don’t, we will not have an industry.”

– Mike Harlington, CTA.

Also to speak was Robert Jappie, a senior associate from law firm Mackrell Turner Garrett. Robert is a specialist in cannabis law and provided some further clarification in respect to CBD products.

No medical claims for CBD. “The MHRA agreed not to get involved if no medicinal claim is made”.

  • ‘Sleep aid’, ‘helps with relaxation/ anxiety’ = Acceptable.
  • ‘Anti-inflammatory’ or ‘pain-killing’ are medical claims = Not OK.

CBD & Pets. It’s unlawful to market CBD products for pets in the UK. You would need marketing authorisation from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

CBD Vape. Vape is technically inhalation, but the tobacco products directive does not apply for CBD vaping. Neither does is technically fall into the food supplement regulation because its not ingested. However the best approach is that vaping has to be governed by Food Supplement Law, so the same regulations as ingestion apply.