After a smoke shop that sells CBD was raided by police last week, a police detective told Plymouth Live that any substance which has any level of THC in it is an illegal substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
While this is not quite correct – CBD products must contain less than 1mg of THC per container – it does highlight the fact that most full-spectrum CBD products in the UK have more THC than is permitted by law and are, therefore, illegal.
Two people were arrested following the raid in Plymouth for supplying Class B drugs from their city centre smoke shop ‘Holy Smoke’.
Police found a “substantial quantity of suspected cannabis” and a number of bottles of e-liquid (or vape juice) apparently containing 90%THC.
A residential property was also searched, leading to a four-figure sum of cash seizure, along with cultivation equipment including grow lamps, tents, trays and fertiliser.
Leading the police investigation is Detective Con Pablo
“Under current law, any substance which has any level of THC in it is an illegal substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
“… the issue is not so much what is on the packaging but rather what the substance contains, ie any THC.
“A proportion of THC under the frequently mentioned 0.2 limit may justify an application for a licence to use the items in a commercial production sense – eg for the production of hemp fibre – but that is wholly different from saying you can possess or sell it as it has THC of under 0.2 percent.”
Although worrying, he’s not quite right. Later in the article, we’ll explain in greater detail the points he’s missed.
“We don’t look at percentages”
Holy Smoke became a target after reporting a crime themselves; the theft of some small bell jars containing ‘CBD flower’ or ‘hemp flower’.
The police found the jars on some youths, obviously became suspicious and decided to test this supposedly legal product. The test came back positive for THC.
Speaking to Plymouth Live, Inspector Robin Loveridge, neighbourhood inspector for the city centre, said:
“It came back as positive for THC – we don’t look at percentages with regard to cannabis. In effect, it is a class B drug and our view was we have to investigate this as the suspected selling of a class B drug.”
The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 actually states that cannabis-derived products can ‘exempt’ from the law providing they contain less than 1mg of THC/CBN per unit. The 0.2% THC limit only applies to farmers growing hemp plants under licence.
So, while it is untrue that all products with any trace of THC are illegal, it is true that any singular product with more than 1mg of THC does fall
Is your CBD product legal?
Now we know the correct laws – unlike the police officer quoted above – let’s do some maths.
The standard size of a bottle of CBD oil is 10ml. And 1mg (milligram) is equal to 0.001 ml (milliliters).
That would mean, for a 10ml bottle of CBD oil to be legal, it must have less than 0.01% THC. For a 30ml bottle, it must have less than 0.003%.
It is clear then most full spectrum, CBD products in the UK are technically illegal. They generally have 0.05-0.2% THC.
There are more and more ‘broad-spectrum’ products on the market however, and those made with isolate are also legal.
What does this mean for the industry? Will these outdated laws be enforced anytime soon? We don’t know.
However, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be an easy ride for CBD in the UK.
If anything, this exciting new cannabis industry based around a non-psychotropic compound – CBD – is highlighting the clear need for new rules and regulations as the current laws are awkward, unspecific and quite frankly confusing.
Let’s hope common sense prevails.