CBD hemp bud looks and smells just like regular weed. It can also be smoked just like the ‘real thing’. And while smoking hemp bud won’t get you high, it does offer a profoundly relaxing and anxiety-relieving effect.
This has made CBD hemp flower very popular with people who want to smoke weed without experiencing the heady high that traditionally accompanies it. It’s also being bought by many people who get anxious and paranoid when they smoke high-THC weed, as well as people who are trying to cut down their THC intake.
Despite its growing popularity, however, high-CBD hemp flower is causing some confusion among cannabis industry professionals and consumers alike. So, in order to try and clear the matter up once and for all, this article will attempt to answer the question: Is CBD hemp flower legal in the UK?
Hemp is legal to grow but are flowers legal to sell?
The bottom line is that CBD flower can be legal, providing it is derived from legally-grown hemp, has been processed, and contains no more than 1mg THC per unit.
However, the laws do not explicitly cover the CBD industry and any mention of hemp-derived buds is a cursory mention and open to interpretation.
Division in the industry
Within the industry, there are two camps. One that believes that any cannabis in its raw form, including hemp flower, is illegal in the UK under the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971 (MODA). The other, however, believe that as the buds are derived from legally-grown hemp, they are legally classed as hemp, not cannabis, and, therefore, exempt from the MODA.
What is CBD hemp flower?
Hemp is simply cannabis with very low levels of THC that has been grown under licence. As THC is the chemical compound in cannabis that gets you ‘high’, hemp does not offer any psychotropic effects.
It is legal to grow hemp in the UK (and most of the world) providing you have a government-issued licence and you only plant seeds from a list of EU-approved strains. This list features cannabis strains that reliably produce less than 0.2% THC (the UK limit).
Although these hemp varieties are traditionally grown from industrial purposes like in the manufacture of textiles and rope, many European hemp farmers are now growing crops purely for their CBD content. Some extract the CBD to make other products, while some harvest the flowers of the hemp plants, cure and trim them, before selling the raw product on to the consumer.
The resulting product – trichome-rich, high-CBD, low-THC cannabis buds – has become very popular in the UK over the last six months. It follows in the footsteps of similar industries in Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and Germany, where the product is often sold as a tobacco substitute.
What the law says…
First of all, let’s confirm that products containing CBD are legal providing they contain less than 1mg of THC per unit. The 0.2% limit is a limit imposed on hemp plants that are being grown under licence by hemp farmers. It is not applicable to CBD products.
Now here’s the fun part; trying to dissect the UK’s confusing drug laws. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, cannabis is a Class B controlled drug. In order to allow the hemp industry to continue, however, some exemptions were brought in. These exemptions include the stalk (used for fibre) and seed (used for food) – not the leaves or flower (buds).
Judging by this statement, it would seem that hemp flower is illegal to be possessed or sold in the UK. But not so fast. The law states products ‘derived from’ industrial hemp can be exempt from the MODA if they have been ‘processed’ and contain less than 1mg of THC or CBN.
What about CLEAR and the CTA?
This is why some companies (even some certified by the CTA, like Zenon Hemp Farm) sell hemp buds that have been ground up (sold as hemp tea) – the act of grinding the bud counts as a process.
In this vein, it can then be assumed that if a hemp flower product has undergone processing such as curing and trimming, and contains less than 1mg THC per container, it is, therefore, exempt from the misuse of Drug Act 1971.
So, it may be advisable for companies selling hemp flowers to make it clear the buds they are selling have been ‘processed’, whether that be by trimming, grinding, or some other such process.
Additionally, a simple way around the 1mg/unit rule is to simply sell hemp flowers in small amounts, say by the half-gram, so that no one pack has more than 1mg of THC. Although the previously mentioned Zenon Hemp Farm, a CTA member, does not seem to follow this rule. They sell chopped hemp buds by the kilogram on their website.
What the police say…
Police forces of the UK are also apparently very confused on the matter. We have received word of a recent incident in which someone who was in possession of CBD-rich hemp flower had their house searched. The officers were apparently satisfied that the cannabis was low-THC and therefore did not confiscate it.
There have been other incidents where hemp buds have been confiscated, only to be returned five months later after an analysis revealed it to have minimal levels of THC. We have not heard about any case where someone has been prosecuted for possessing CBD-rich hemp flower.
We are aware of some companies having their shipments held up at customs, however.
Where can you buy high-quality CBD hemp flowers?
You can currently buy CBD hemp flowers from a number of different online shops as well as from a few bricks-and-mortar shops around the UK. In London, you can visit Hemp Botanics in Portobello Road, Kanaco on Fulham Road, or Otherside London, also on Portobello Road. There’s also Little Head Shop in Crewe and no doubt many others that we aren’t aware of.
If you are shopping online, you have many options. Check out our regularly updated directory ‘Where To Buy CBD Hemp Buds In The UK’.
The UK’s drug laws are outdated and misinformed. Not least, our cannabis laws, which have directly led to the undue suffering of many. Now, as the UK wakes up to the therapeutic potential of cannabis, CBD has been forced into the spotlight. And one of the most exciting and intriguing CBD products on the market today is CBD-rich hemp flower.
But there is some confusion surrounding their legality.
Some people are saying they are illegal, some say otherwise. Either way, companies are selling them and the police are doing very little to stop them.
At the very least, the rise of CBD hemp flower shows us that not everyone wants to use cannabis to get ‘high’. It also highlights the ineptitude of the drug laws we live under. Due to this, we may very well be seeing the formation of new regulations for the CBD and hemp industries very soon.
Therefore, you can expect to hear more about CBD-rich hemp flower in the coming months. The non-psychoactive buds are already sweeping through Europe and taking the U.S by storm. And while they don’t get you high like THC weed, their popularity is great ammunition for the push for the full legalisation of cannabis.