Is CBD flower legal in the UK or isn’t it? It’s a question that gets debated in Facebook Groups more than any other.
Well, there have been some recent developments that might give a clue as to what’s in store for the UK’s CBD flower market in the coming months.
What’s the law on CBD flower in the UK?
Cannabis is a Class B drug in the UK and, therefore, is very much illegal. Hemp, i.e. low-THC cannabis traditionally grown for industrial purposes, however, is legal to grow and possess with a licence. Farmers can only grow seeds that are on a list of EU-approved varieties
For a hemp product to be legal, it must adhere to a few rules; It must be a product with less than 1mg of THC (or CBN) per unit and the controlled substance must be ‘unretrievable’.
CBD flower sellers are claiming that their products are legal because they are supposedly from EU-approved varieties and being sold in 1g containers means they also do not contain more than 1mg THC per unit (not all companies do this, however).
It’s also why hemp flower tea is sold in well-known high street shops Holland & Barrett and Grape Tree.
Recently, however, shops have been raided by the police for selling CBD flower. While hemp flower sold as tea appears to not be a concern for the authorities, sold by the gram as whole-flower with a name like Girls Scout Cookies and it could cause a problem.
There was a raid in Plymouth a few months ago, a couple of online sellers have had their buds confiscated, and then in the last few months we’ve had the highly publicised Canna Kitchen in Brighton raided along with two other addresses in the area.
While this might sound like the start of the end of the CBD flower market in the UK, there could be more to it. The fact that no one has been prosecuted is the first clue that the police and relevant authorities are not entirely clear on their stance on CBD hemp flower.
In fact, it seems a few police forces have been contacting private organisations like CLEAR to establish where CBD flower falls with regard to the law.
End of CBD flower in Italy?
In Italy, where much of Europe’s CBD flower is grown, the government has announced plans to close every shop selling flower one by one. This was followed by rumours that the new industry has upset the Mafia by eating into its black cannabis market profits.
Additionally, a recent study found that the availability of CBD flower in Italy has had a notable impact on pharmaceutical usage, adding more fuel to rumours of a conspiracy against CBD and natural medicines by ‘big pharma’.
End of CBD in Europe?
To be honest, it’s not looking good for CBD anywhere in Europe apart from Switzerland. The EU is trying to list CBD in the Novel Foods Catalogue, which would take it off the European market for a good few years while it underwent strict safety testing.
A ‘novel food’ is defined as a food or food ingredient that was not in widespread consumption in the EU area before 1997. Yet CBD-containing cannabis has been consumed among humans and our livestock for thousands of years. You do the math.
Future of CBD flower in the EU and UK?
So, what does this mean for the future of CBD flower in the UK? Right now, it’s hard to say.
It’s still widely available online in vape shops around the country. In fact, it continues to be very more popular, with people consuming the buds for a variety of reasons, including quitting tobacco, treating anxiety, insomnia, depression, migraine, addiction, just to name a handful.
Could a crackdown be on the way? It’s possible.
There could also be a change in the law. In fact, there are some pretty loud calls for changes to the UK’s hemp laws to open the way for the domestic production of CBD.
You see, at the moment, while licence-holders can grow hemp legally, they are not permitted to process the flower of the plant, which is where cannabinoids like CBD are produced. This is why UK companies have to import CBD from abroad.
The proposed changes in hemp laws would see farmers permitted to process the flower to make CBD products. And there is a chance that the law could also make the trade in hemp flower completely legal.
Who knows, with Brexit in the UK’s rearview mirror and demand for cannabis law reform increasing, a domestic hemp and CBD industry could be a lucrative and progressive middle ground – a stepping stone perhaps – before the inevitable wider liberalisation of cannabis in the UK.