Just as legal medicinal cannabis finally dawns in the UK, a quasi-legal market selling CBD-dominant strains of cannabis has been slowly growing under the radar of the mainstream press.
That’s right, seemingly legal raw cannabis flowers (buds) are being openly sold online and in a number of smoke and vape shops around the UK. What’s the catch? These buds have barely any THC (the chemical that gets you ‘high’) and are instead rich in cannabidiol, or CBD, which doesn’t get you ‘high’ so to speak but does offer numerous health benefits.
And the reason these cannabis buds are considered legal is that they are from legally grown hemp seeds that have been approved by the EU. The laws are murky not quite that simple – and not everyone is in agreement about their interpretation – but at this moment in time, there are over 20 websites and at least five brick and mortar shops (that we know of) that are openly selling cannabis flowers in the UK.
While we are aware of a few shipments of the hemp flowers being held up at customs, no raids or arrests have been made on those companies who are importing their controversial product in full view of the authorities. One London-based CBD shop, Hemp Botanics, even claims to have been given the all-clear by the relevant authorities to import hemp form America.
Hemp Botanics also claim on their website to have to the support of the police. We have also spoken to hemp bud-selling shop-owners who have police officers as customers. And then there are the stories we have heard about people having their CBD flowers confiscated by the police, only to be returned a few weeks later after testing negative for THC.
If these hemp flowers are indeed illegal, the law is not being enforced right now.
And that has allowed a small but diverse range of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis flowers to appear on the market. Some of these strains are of extremely high quality, grown to perfection by master growers, indistinguishable in looks from the regular THC-rich cannabis that most people will have experienced. The smell and taste aren’t quite there yet, but it’s not far off.
Over the last year, a handful of green-fingered entrepreneurs have been doing their utmost to locate and import the finest CBD flowers from across Europe and the U.S. to sell in the UK. Their products have been well received and demand has grown as more people hear about it.
It seems cannabis that doesn’t get you high has the same alluring appeal as traditional intoxicating weed. But why? Well, while it might not get you ‘high’ in the way THC-rich cannabis does, consuming CBD flowers does produce a mellow body buzz.
A recent commenter on one of my blog posts discussing how it feels to smoke CBD flower said, “… you feel as if you should be high but your mind is completely clear. While this product lacks the instant euphoria of marijuana, it still produces a very pleasant feeling and is very relaxing.
“As a pre-exercise aid, it works just as good as marijuana (which is very good), and it really is an effective alternative to alcohol. I can definitely see this product still having a place in the stores when full legalization has occurred. What other marijuana product allows you to feel good and sit through a board meeting at the same time?”
It seems, therefore, although the therapeutic value of CBD is the flowers’ most obvious draw, there is also certainly a recreational appeal to CBD flowers, despite the lack of a ‘head-high’. In Switzerland, where the hemp bud market first sprouted, there is now an established hemp flower industry with a sophisticated culture around it.
In America, also, high-grade hemp buds are making their way onto shelves of smoke stores around the country as well as being sold in many online shops. Some licensed hemp farms are even selling their product direct to customers in all 50 states.
Who’s buying CBD flowers?
With some hemp strains on sale in the UK containing CBD levels of 20% or more, these are potent herbs. But who is buying them and why?
Generally, the people who are buying them are regular people with regular jobs and regular lives. They may have had some experiences with cannabis in the past or have just become interested recently after hearing about the many health benefits of cannabis. Many customers are using CBD flowers to manage a medical condition. It seems the most common conditions people are using CBD flowers to treat are pain, anxiety, sleep problems and stress.
There are also those who used to enjoy smoking weed until they started to react badly to it. Some experience anxiety and paranoia with high-THC varieties so CBD-dominant strains allow them to consume and enjoy cannabis without the intense psychoactivity.
I, myself, buy CBD flowers to mix with my regular high-THC weed. I find it makes the high more manageable and enjoyable. And I can focus (like on reading a book), which I struggle to do on just high-THC weed.
Generally, CBD hemp flowers are smoked or vaporised. Joints, pipes, bongs all work great, although vaping CBD flower is probably the healthiest and most flavourful way to enjoy them. you can also bake with the buds, just like you would do with normal weed.
We’ve hardly mentioned the numerous health benefits of CBD flowers. And we won’t go deep into it because there is a huge amount of research showing the therapeutic effects of CBD, terpenes (part of plants’ essential oils) and whole-plant cannabis in general.
CBD alone has been found to be a potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain reliever), and anxiolytic (anxiety reliever). The list of conditions that CBD my help is long and impressive. Although we must affirm that most research is conducted on rodents and cells and no humans. We still have many pieces of the puzzle to put into place.
The good news is, though, that scientists are working on it like never before and studies over the coming months and years will reveal much important data on how best to use CBD and cannabis in therapeutic settings.
Of course, smoking anything is not healthy and we advise you to vape you CBD flowers. Dry herb vaporisers are effective, efficient and economical.
For a country where cannabis has only just been legalised for medicinal uses (although no products have been approved for use), the fact that anyone can buy CBD-rich cannabis online or in the high street is of huge importance.
This industry has grown somewhat unnoticed by many. But it won’t stay in the shadows. Now that physical shops have joined the online vendors in stocking and selling ‘legal weed’ on the high streets of the UK, the CBD flowers industry in the UK is about to explode. That is if it is allowed to.
New regulations for the CBD industry are in the pipeline and there is some confusion as to whether CBD flowers will be restricted or not.
If it is given the all-clear and allowed to continue, expect to see low-THC cannabis for sale in many shops and even supermarkets around the country.
Many people may not see the point in weed that doesn’t get you high and it’s certainly not for everyone. But there are also many of us who value cannabis not just for its THC content. We appreciate the full range and ratios of compounds that make cannabis special.
And so will many more people as cannabis becomes more accepted and learnt about. In fact, as the global cannabis market grows massively over the coming years, expect CBD and CBD-rich cannabis to be a major driving force.
At this moment in time, there is a legal cannabis market in the UK. High-quality cannabis is available to buy online and in shops around the country. The laws may be grey but, for the time being, the police and the authorities are aware of what is happening and are not stopping it.
If it’s allowed to grow, it will GROW just as it is in other European countries and America. And who knows what effect it could have on peoples’ perceptions of cannabis in the UK. Or politicians’ perceptions. A well-functioning CBD flower market could even spearhead the push for full legalisation. You never know…