While some forms of CBD can be legally purchased, not all types are allowed in the UK. Since CBD flower is a popular product in many countries, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about CBD flower and its legality in the UK.
What is CBD flower?
CBD flower is the bud of a cannabis or hemp plant that contains high amounts of CBD and low amounts of THC. The flower is dried and cured and is then typically smoked to be consumed, although it can also be used in cooking and in the creation of oil extracts, tinctures, topicals, and vapes.
CBD flower is an especially potent form of CBD. The flowers of cannabis and hemp plants are covered in crystal-like structures called trichomes. These trichomes produce cannabinoids and are one of the main producers of this compound in cannabis and hemp plants.
The type of plant that the flower comes from will determine the amount of CBD that a bud or flower contains. Thanks to the selective breeding of plants for their specific characteristics, hemp and cannabis plants exist that grow high-CBD (around 15%) and low THC flower (around 1% or less). Choosing a high-CBD and low-THC plant will help you to ensure that your CBD flower will deliver a strong hit of CBD.
CBD’s legal status in the UK
CBD products are legal in the UK, provided that they meet certain requirements. It is legal to grow hemp industrially, and CBD products can be manufactured and sold as long as they contain no more than 0.2% THC, are produced from plant stalks, seeds, or fibre, and meet other topical or edible certification requirements (1).
While these regulations do allow for CBD purchases, the problem lies in the fact that stalk, seeds, and fibre of hemp contain very little CBD when compared to the cannabinoid-rich plant flowers and leaves.
Is CBD flower legal in the UK?
Unfortunately, under the current requirements, CBD flower is not legal in the UK. This might seem a bit confusing due to the fact that you can buy CBD oil legally, and many people would like to buy CBD buds but because CBD flower comes from a prohibited part of hemp plants, even though it may contain no more than 0.2% THC, it can’t legally be sold.
This is a shame because the flowers of hemp plants are especially rich in CBD, and so these buds would provide a cannabinoid-rich product with which to produce more refined substances like CBD extract, oils, and vapes.
Legal consequences of possessing CBD flower in the UK
Because it is illegal to possess CBD flower in the UK, doing so can result in significant legal consequences. Under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations, cannabis is referred to as a “Class B” drug, so it will not result in legal ramifications as severe as “Class A” drugs like heroin or cocaine, but it can still come with some punishments.
Because CBD is a controlled substance, hemp flower can be prosecuted as severely as cannabis as long as it contains restricted cannabinoids like CBD or THC. The amount doesn’t matter, the consequences will be the same if your CBD flower contains a little CBD or a lot, even if it contains no THC.
Punishment for CBD flower possession can range from a low fine to a prison sentence of up to five years and a significant fine. You may still find some CBD flower shops in London, or be able to buy CBD flower online, but beware!
The best way to avoid legal trouble for CBD flower is to avoid it altogether and look for legal CBD products.
Could CBD flower be legal in the future?
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any sign that CBD flower will be made legal for purchase anytime soon. With regulations around CBD production becoming stricter in 2021 with the novel foods certification, the UK does not appear to be moving towards the broad legalisation like that seen in the USA.
You might have actually seen CBD flower for sale in the UK. However, this is a sign of a burgeoning black market rather than the easing of regulations. Some stores have tried to sell CBD flowers under a law allowing for cannabis to be sold provided it contains no more than 0.2%. However, this law is only applicable to certain pharmacies with specific licences selling to patients with a prescription.
The underground CBD market is a sign that there is a lot of demand for the benefits of CBD flower. But since this market is unregulated and illegal, we advise that you stay away from these untested, possibly unreliable, and definitely illegal products.
Legal alternatives to CBD flower
So since you can’t legally purchase CBD flower, what alternatives are there? CBD products are still legal provided that they meet the specific UK requirements. Many of the benefits of CBD were demonstrated from CBD oil, so it is most likely that legal CBD oil drops or even topical CBD patches might give you the effects that you are after.
By sticking to a reputable provider and managing your dosing properly, it is possible to effectively swap out CBD flower for legal CBD oil.
Legal CBD options in the UK include:
- CBD oils - So long as it is meant for ingestion, CBD oil can legally be sold in the UK provided it has an approved novel foods application.
- CBD topicals/skincare - CBD topicals (skin-applied products) are legal as long as they comply with cosmetic and legal regulations.
- CBD edibles - As long as they are approved with a fully authorised novel foods certification by the Food Standard Agency, CBD edible products are legal. These products are considered to be food supplements, and they have to meet the standards such as safety studies required under the certificate to be granted authorisation (2).
The bottom line
CBD flower may not be legal in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still experience the potential health benefits of CBD. By purchasing legal CBD products that meet the required standards, you can legally consume CBD and hopefully experience its impressive health benefits.