CBD Law UK 2023: A Detailed Breakdown of Everything You Should Know

Is CBD legal in the United Kingdom?

The short answer: yes! 

However, there’s a lot of confusion around what is legal and what isn’t. 

But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s break down the CBD laws and regulations to help you understand them thoroughly.

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CBD Law UK: Exploring the Nitty-Gritty in 2023

Here are the key aspects of CBD legality in the UK:

1. CBD 101

CBD (cannabidiol) is a cannabinoid extracted from the cannabis plant or hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). 

It’s used in various products like CBD edibles, oils, cosmetics, etc. 


CBD interacts with our body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS) to produce various physical and psychological benefits like:

  • Pain relief
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved sleep
  • Mitigating seizures in epilepsy, and more.

However, CBD products may sometimes contain other cannabinoids like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBN — which can cause a psychoactive ‘high’. 

What’s more?

The cannabis plant has various species, each containing different levels of these cannabinoids. 

For example, industrial hemp plants have a higher concentration of CBD extract and almost no amount of THC. On the other hand, marijuana (a controlled drug in the UK) naturally contains high levels of THC and very low concentrations of CBD.

That’s why the UK law (in accordance with the European Union) strictly monitors CBD products and mandates specific requirements.

2. CBD Law in the UK

A legislation passed by the UK Parliament in 2018 legalizes only certain cannabinoids like CBD, CBDa, etc., in all UK countries — England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Any other cannabinoid, like THC, is a controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and is NOT legal for public consumption in the UK (except medical cannabis). 

Side Note: Medical cannabis is a controlled substance and not available to the general public. You can use it only if your doctor prescribes it as part of a treatment.

a. The 0.2% THC Limit

If you’ve been exploring CBD, you might have come across some websites/brands mentioning that up to 0.2% THC content is allowed in the UK.

But here’s what the UK government says:

0.2% refers to the amount of THC present in the hemp plant during cultivation, hemp seeds, and hemp oil derived from hemp seeds through cold pressing.

It DOESN’T apply to finished CBD products like oils, capsules, drinks, and other CBD edibles.

These products should have 0.0% THC to be fully legal in the UK!

b. Purchase/Sale of CBD products in the UK 

Ensure that the product mentions NO THC or NOT DETECTED and is verified by an accredited ISO laboratory using an accredited THC test. 

The test should have a limit of detection set at 0.01% or lower.

(More on this later.)

Exception: Sativex — the trade name for the UK’s only approved cannabis-based medicine for treating multiple sclerosis. It’s an oral spray containing 2.7 mg THC and 2.5 mg CBD.

c. Requirements for Hemp Cultivation

There are stringent rules regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp in the UK: 

  • One of the prerequisites for CBD legality is a license from the Home Office, which permits only certain varieties of Cannabis sativa for cultivation. The licenses are issued only to plants with low THC (up to 0.2%).
  • Another rule is that UK residents CAN’T grow CBD-rich hemp for personal use.
  • Finally, the sale of CBD flower (hemp flower) and CBD bud is prohibited by the cannabis laws in the UK. This holds even if these parts of the plant are of European Union approved origin and have THC content below 0.2%.

3. CBD Regulation in the UK

The UK government agencies have several regulations to prevent inferior CBD products from being available on the high street and online market.

Let’s explore each one:

a. The Food Standards Agency and CBD

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) regards CBD extract as a novel food.

What’s that?

Novel foods are foods that haven’t been widely consumed in the UK/EU before May 1997. So they must follow some rules (the Novel Food Regulations) to be authorized in the UK. 

In the case of CBD: 

The FSA required that any CBD company producing consumables like CBD gummies, oil, food product, drink, etc., prepare and submit a Novel Food application before 31st March 2021. 

As long as the company has submitted the Novel Foods dossier by this date, they’re good to stay on the market. 

(More on this later.)

b. The MHRA and CBD

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency mandates that CBD products (which can be classified as medicines and used for medical purposes) meet the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

It works closely with private companies and trade bodies dealing in CBD consumables like tinctures, oil products, supplements, etc., to ensure patient safety. 

Here’s what the MHRA advises: 

Individuals should first consult with their doctors before using cannabidiol products to treat or manage medical conditions.

c. The Trading Standards and CBD

The Trading Standards (TS) monitors the retail CBD industry. 

Along with the local police, they ensure that there are no illegal CBD products in the retail trade.

The organisation ensures that every CBD company complies with the rules and regulations set by the MHRA, FSA, and other regulatory bodies in the UK.

Key Takeaways:

  • Finished CBD products in the UK should have 0.0% THC content.
  • CBD flowers or buds are illegal in the UK.
  • Only purchase CBD edibles from brands that have submitted their Novel Food dossiers — like Love Hemp, Vitality CBD or Provacan.
  • Consult your healthcare practitioner before embarking on your CBD journey.

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4 Criteria for CBD Products to be Legal in the UK

Looking to sell or supply CBD products in the UK?

Here are four essential things you should know:

Let’s explore them in detail: 

1. CBD cannot be sold as medicine

The MHRA requires medicinal products to have a product licence before they can be legally supplied, advertised, or sold in the UK.

However, supplements like CBD capsules, oils, sprays, etc., have not yet been subject to rigorous testing and scrutiny required by medicines in the UK. 

The point?

You can’t promote CBD to have medical benefits. You can ONLY sell it as a food supplement. 

(P.S. this isn’t applicable to a medical cannabis product.)

2. Products must have less than 1mg of controlled cannabinoids

In the UK, CBD products containing less than 1mg (0.01%) of THC, THCV, and CBN in the final preparation are legal. 

This amounts to 1mg THC in at least 10,000 ml liquid. Anything less than 10,000 ml will increase the THC percentage, making it illegal.


Finished CBD products containing up to 0.2% THC AREN’T legal. 

According to the Home Office, 0.2% THC content is only a reference to identify the hemp varieties that licensed commercial growers can cultivate in the UK. 

3. THC must not easily separate from the oil

To exempt a CBD product from the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, the Home Office requires that: 

The product should NOT become a source for extracting THC or other controlled substances.

As a result, CBD products must be formulated with other active/inert substances and packed so that the THC can’t readily separate from the end product.

4. All CBD consumables must have Novel Foods authorisation 

The MHRA and the FSA mandate Novel Foods authorisation for any new product (CBD food product or supplement) on the UK market after 13th February 2020. 

What about products already on the CBD market before this date?

They are good to remain if they have a valid submission or approved application in the FSA portal. 

Side Note: The Novel Food Regulations don’t apply to hemp tea, CBD vape juices, or cosmetic products such as CBD balms and creams.

The UK Law Regarding Specific CBD Products

What are the rules and regulations about common CBD products and those used in special cases? 

Let’s check it out:

1. CBD oil, pastes, gummies, capsules, and other edibles

Are products like CBD gummies, snacks, and CBD oil legal? 

What does the CBD oil UK law say?

All these CBD products are legal in the UK as long as they meet ALL these criteria:

  • Sold only as a food supplement 
  • Contains less than 1mg of controlled cannabinoids
  • Controlled cannabinoids can’t separate from the product
  • Must have the Novel Foods authorisation 

If even one of these four criteria is not met, then the product is NOT legal and shouldn’t be sold in the UK.

Side Note: CBD oil is different from cannabis oil. Cannabis oil extracted from marijuana plants contains THC and is not legal in the UK.

2. CBD e-liquid 

In the UK, CBD vape products need to be in line with non-nicotine e-liquid regulations, which are similar to the above products. 

They need to meet the first three criteria to be considered legal.

Vape products like CBD vape juice don’t require Novel Foods authorisation to be on the market.

3. Hemp tea

Hemp tea is legal in the UK as long as the tea is milled or crushed. 

It CANNOT be sold as whole CBD bud or unprocessed CBD flower (hemp flower). 

Like e-liquids, it doesn’t need Novel Foods authorisation. But it must meet the other three exemption criteria set out by the MHRA.

Did you know hemp tea is different from CBD tea?

CBD tea is made from CBD-infused herbs or tea leaves, while hemp tea is made from hemp leaves, buds, or flowers.

Read More: Here’s how to make the Perfect CBD Brew in 5 easy steps.

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4. CBD cosmetics

In the UK, cosmetics, especially CBD topicals like CBD creams, serums, etc., are regulated by the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association (CTPA).

The CTPA mandates that cosmetic ingredients must contain no controlled substance. 

In the case of CBD, that means NO THC in the final product or ingredients sourced from the flowering or fruiting parts of the plant.

5. CBD for pets 

The VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) considers any veterinary product containing CBD to be veterinary medicine. 

It requires marketing approval before being supplied or sold in the UK.

Currently, there are NO veterinary marketing authorised CBD products in the UK market. 

Read More: Can you use CBD for cats? This comprehensive guide on CBD Oil for Cats has the answers.

6. CBD for athletes

Products like CBD oil, CBD capsules, etc., for athletes are monitored by the Banned Substances Control Group (BSCG) in the UK.

According to the BSCG, CBD products shouldn’t contain THC levels beyond 0.3% and must be certified by the BSCG or Informed Sport.

Fun Fact: Founded by professional rugby players George Kruis and Dominic Day, fourfive is UK’s first BSCG and Informed Sport tested CBD brand.

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4 Common (but Crucial) Questions About CBD in the UK

Let’s now explore some frequently asked questions:

1. Is it legal to drive after taking CBD?


Most CBD forms are non-intoxicating and legal to consume before driving.

Broad spectrum CBD, CBD distillate, or CBD isolate don’t contain any amount of THC (the cannabinoid that may get you high). 

As long as you use products containing these forms of CBD, it won’t impair your ability to drive.

2. Is it legal to fly with CBD?

Honestly, it depends on your destination. 

If CBD is permitted at your destination, you can take CBD products (that satisfy the UK legal requirements) in your carry-on luggage.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Check with the country you’re visiting if CBD is legal there. 
  • Also, check the minute details of the law since some CBD types, like CBD isolate (powdered form), may not be permitted.

3. Which are the legal CBD brands in the UK?

Here’s a list of some legal CBD companies in the UK:

4. Does CBD show up on athlete drug tests?


If the lab does a cannabinoid test, CBD WILL show up in the results.

However, this shouldn’t be a concern since hemp-derived CBD is legal for use in most jurisdictions. 

It’s also on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) list of permitted substances for athletes.

The Best Place to Buy Legal CBD Products? GreenBox!

The UK CBD law has been formulated keeping in mind the safety of the citizens. 

While the legal status of CBD may change with time, the regulations ensure that the CBD products available for health and wellness are pure, reliable, and without adverse side effects. 

If you’re looking to buy legal CBD products, head to GreenBox

We only stock CBD products and brands that comply with the UK’s CBD laws. Additionally, we ensure that all the products on our site pass our strict quality and safety checks.