The Law On CBD UK
So, We emailed the Home Office to ask them what the law on CBD actually is, this is the response we got.
Thank you for your email of 23 November to the Home Office regarding the legality of
CBD. Your email was passed to the Drugs Legislation Team for reply.
CBD as an isolated substance, in its pure form, is not a controlled drug. If a CBD ‘product’
contained any controlled cannabinoids, unintentionally or otherwise then it is highly likely
that the product would be controlled. It is the Government’s understanding that it is very
difficult to isolate pure CBD, and in our experience many products available to the public in
fact do not fully disclose their contents or provide a full spectrum analysis at an appropriate
level of sensitivity to accurately and consistently determine their true content or control
In January 2021 the Home Office wrote to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs
(ACMD) seeking the Council’s advice on how we can strengthen the law on consumer
CBD products. We hope this advice will allow us to make sure the law is clear and that
these products are safe for consumers so those who seek to create legitimate, safe CBD
consumer products are able to do so more easily. As the letter to the ACMD states, we are
keen to understand how we might create a specific exemption in the 2001 Regulations for
CBD products which contain no more than a defined trace percentage of controlled
cannabinoids as an impurity. The request also requested advice on the amendment of the
definition of an “exempt product” under the 2001 Regulations, to ensure that no products
with amounts of controlled cannabinoids beyond this trace amount can claim to be exempt.
The controlled drugs licensing regime which exists now and enables producers of CBD
‘wellbeing’ products to apply for the necessary licences (where the product can lawfully be
bought to market) will continue to exist in the same form after any changes recommended
by the ACMD are considered.
There is a widespread misapprehension that ‘hemp products’ such as consumer CBD are
legal where they contain less than 0.2% THC, despite the law stating that the presence of
any controlled cannabinoid would render the product controlled. The 0.2% threshold cited
relates to the fee levels to be applied to controlled drug licenses and mirrors European
legislation which used the threshold to identify what was ‘hemp’, notwithstanding there is
no differentiation in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 legislation between cannabis and socalled hemp. Only low THC cannabis plants with 0.2% THC or less, which are on the
‘approved seed variety list’, may be lawfully grown under an Industrial Hemp licencewhich would only be issued for fibre and seed production only, as the non-controlled parts
of the plant. As a point of clarification, there is no such thing as a CBD flower. There are
Cannabis flowers, which along with the leaves are controlled. To produce CBD you would
need to use the controlled parts of the plant, flower and leaves, and such an application
could not be considered under the ‘Industrial Hemp policy, which is a very light touch
For more information on drug licensing, visit
Your email also mentions ‘hash’. Hash is made from the resin of the cannabis plant, and is
rich in THC. Cannabis and THC are Class B controlled drugs under Part II, Schedule 2, of
the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (“the 1971 Act”). Cannabis is also listed in Schedule 1 to the
Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (“the 2001 Regulations”), except if it satisfies the
definition of a cannabis-based product for medicinal use (CBPM), in which case it is listed
in Schedule 2 to the 2001 Regulations. As such, it is unlawful to possess, supply, produce,
import or export this drug except under a Home Office licence. As a Class B drug,
possession of cannabis can result in a maximum sentence of up to 5 years in prison, an
unlimited fine, or both. It is also an offence to cultivate any plant of the genus cannabis
except under a Home Office licence.
The consumer CBD sector is a rapidly growing market yet there is a wide variation in the
quality and safety of products. The Government wants the UK to have the highest
standards for consumer CBD products, driving quality and safety, and establishing the
UK’s reputation in this globally significant market.
I hope that this helps to clarify the Government’s position on this matter.
The Drugs Legislation Team