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Is CBD Oil Legal or Illegal? CBD Legality UK and Beyond

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With the popularity of CBD growing by the day and research on the benefits developing rapidly, confusion remains on one question: “Is pure CBD oil legal?”

The CBD compound works with the body’s naturally existing endocannabinoid system, and CBD supporters claim that CBD has benefits for pain, anxiety, inflammation, insomnia and plenty of other conditions.

These recommendations have led to sales of CBD jumping by 99% in the UK in 2019, and with the Cannabis Trades Association estimating that there were 250,000 UK CBD users in 2017, it’s anyone’s guess how huge those numbers have gotten currently!

Not everybody landing on this page will be knowledgeable about the legality of CBD oil, so let’s start with the basics:

What is CBD Oil Made Of?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is one of two well-known organic compounds within the cannabis plant. The plant actually contains over 100 different cannabinoids, but only two specific ones are well known and regularly used.

The first of these is THC, which has psychoactive effects and is a controlled substance in the UK under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The second is CBD, which has no psychoactive effects and is growing in popularity as a natural herbal remedy. Both of these compounds interact with cannabinoid receptors in our body’s naturally occurring endocannabinoid system.

There are many different methods of taking CBD, and it is rapidly growing in popularity as a herbal remedy, with further studies into its benefits likely in the near future.

But is CBD oil legal in the UK?

And since we keep getting asked if they’re the same thing, is cannabis oil legal?

Let’s take a look:

CBD Oil Legality: Is CBD Legal in the UK?

guide to cbd legality

While the vast majority of cannabinoids remain illegal in the UK, CBD is the exception.

CBS is legal in the UK, under the condition that it must be produced via an EU-approved strain of industrial hemp. The reasoning for this is simple, these strains are very low in THC, whereas CBD from other sources can be less predictable in it’s THC content.

The answer to the question, “is CBD legal in the UK” then, is yes, with the caveat that no CBD product is allowed to contain more than 0.2% THC content – a small enough amount that any psychoactive effects will be unnoticeable, beyond some mild drowsiness.

Sativex, the trademark name of a UK-approved treatment for multiple sclerosis, is the one exception to this rule, containing a 50-50 split of THC and CBD, although this is only prescribed in very rare circumstances.
It’s also worth mentioning that many of the CBD oil products you can find online are produced and sold in countries with more relaxed laws, and as such may be both illegal for use in the UK, and psychoactive. This is why it’s highly recommended that UK CBD users only source their products from UK based suppliers with strict vetting and lab testing procedures.

Cannabis Oil Legality

cbd oil vs cannabis oil

With the rush of popularity and discussion about CBD oil, it can be easy to assume cannabis oil is the same thing. This isn’t the case, with cannabis oil being extracted from the cannabis plant as a whole, meaning it contains both CBD and THC in high quantities.

Cannabis oil will get you ‘high’ and is a controlled substance in the UK and most countries around the world, so make sure you are aware of the difference and don’t purchase the wrong one!

While ‘hemp oil’ is becoming less commonly used terminology, it is typically legal as it relates to the CBD-filled ‘industrial hemp’ that is legal to grow in the UK under license.

What about International CBD Laws? Is CBD oil illegal in the US?

US vs UK CBD laws

While CBD laws vary from state to state, the general consensus is that CBD from hemp is legal, whereas CBD from marijuana is illegal. This is because of the lower THC content of hemp and is generally similar to the UK setup.

CBD products in the US must contain less than 0.3% THC content, adhere to both state and federal regulations, and be sourced from hemp grown by a licensed farmer.

Hemp was illegal to grow in the US until 2018 when the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 reclassified it from a Schedule 1 illegal substance to an agricultural commodity.

The situation in the US is complicated a little bit by the fact several states have legalised cannabis itself for both medical (47 States) and recreational (10 States) use. This means that while CBD products derived from marijuana plants instead of hemp are illegal on the federal level, they are still readily available and CBD products with high THC content are commonplace.

It’s also worth mentioning that three states – Idaho, Nebraska and South Dakota, have made CBD completely illegal, even when derived from hemp and low in THC. It is highly recommended that you avoid possessing any form of CBD product if you travel to or live in these states, as they are considered contraband.

In the same way, UK users of CBD are recommended to order from trustworthy UK sources. Ordering from a US supplier without the correct research can lead to purchasing a product that’s high in THC, which will likely never get through customs, and will have psychoactive effects and be a crime if it does!


The bottom line then is that CBD is legal in the UK as long as the product contains less than 0.2% THC and is derived from EU-approved industrial hemp.

If you are interested in what CBD can and can’t do for you, we recommend checking out our recent post on the benefits, uses, side effects and risks of the compound.

The wide variety of laws and different products on the international market mean it’s highly recommended that you do your research and find a UK-made product with strict testing procedures to ensure it’s legal, organic and truly effective.

For more no-nonsense looks into the world of CBD, keep your eyes on our blog!

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