Is This The Only Legal Hemp Flower Product In The UK?

The debate surrounding whether hemp flower is legal in the UK has been raging for a long time. 

Although there have been some raids and seizures of plant material, a large number of shops both in the high street and online are still openly importing and selling hemp buds. 

In fact, it would seem that many police forces aren’t quite sure where the law stands in low-THC hemp flower, also known as CBD flower/bud. 

If you ask the main trade associations for the CBD industry in the UK, they’ll likely tell you that hemp flower is illegal. However, they also say that hemp tea (which can be made for hemp flower) can be considered lawful.

As long as a number of criteria are met, it is suggested that hemp flower tea can be ‘exempt’ from the Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971.

 So with that in mind, this hemp flower tea sold by Ice Head Shop may be the only truly legal hemp flower product in the UK. 

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

Most forms of cannabis are illegal in the UK under the The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Hemp, however – which is cannabis grown from EU-approved seeds and contains less than 0.2% THC – can be grown and possessed legally if you have a licence. 

CBD in its pure form is also not controlled under the MODA 1971. Interestingly, neither is THCa, which is the acidic precursor to THC. However, you’d have trouble making sure THCa doesn’t degrade into in THC as it happens naturally and under heat. 

As well as outlining illegal substances, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 also makes some cannabis-derived products exempt. To meet the criteria of an exempt product, it must comply with these three statements: 

a) the preparation or other product is not designed for administration of the controlled drug [i.e. THC or CBN] to a human being or animal;

b) the controlled drug [THC and/or CBN] in any component part is packaged in such a form, or in combination with other active or inert substances in such a manner, that it cannot be recovered by readily applicable means or in a yield which constitutes a risk to health; and

c) no one component part of the product or preparation contains more than one milligram of the controlled drug [in this case, THC and CBN] or one microgram.

Is hemp tea legal?

So, provided it meets the above criteria, a hemp flower product can be considered exempt from the MODA. However, there are a few stipulations according to trade bodies the CTA (Cannabis Trade Association) and CannaPro. They are:

1. The product must be labelled and sold as ‘hemp tea’.

2. The product must be made from an EU-approved variety of hemp grown under licence in the EU. 

3. The product must be labelled as the EU-approved strain that it is and not named after any typical weed strains. 

4. The product must be ground up and packaged in tea bags with less than 1mg THC/CBN per serving. 

UK legal hemp flower

When you take all that into consideration, it would seem that most hemp flower products sold in the UK are probably illegal. However, we did find one company who have ticked all the boxes in creating an exempt hemp flower product. 

The hemp flower tea being offered by Ice Head Shop is sold as tea is made from an EU-approved strain and is labelled as such (they even proved proof of seed); it’s ground up and sold tea bags; and each serving contains 0.5g of flower, which equates to less than 1mg THC per bag.

They also make a point to state that their hemp tea is not sold for smoking. This is because it is illegal to market any product other than tobacco for smoking. 

Their range includes Kompolti (with 20% CBD), KC Virtus (with 18% CBD), Eletta Campana (with 9.5% CBD), Finola (with 6% CBD), and many more. These are all EU-approved hemp strains grown under licence in Italy – a European in high-grade hemp cultivation.  

Prices start at £5.99 per gram. Buy here.

About Jack Woodhouse

A passionate cannabis proponent, Jack has been immersed in cannabis culture for over a decade. He launched High & Polite in 2017 and has since reached millions of people. He is the author of Overcoming Weed Dependence: The Truth About Addiction And The Secret To A Healthy Relationship With Cannabis

View all posts by Jack Woodhouse

6 Comments on “Is This The Only Legal Hemp Flower Product In The UK?”

  1. I do see a problem…

    None of the strains they have are naturally at this level of CBD, Kompolti for example is rarely more than around 4.5% CBD, so how they arrive at these levels of CBD is frankly either not correct or is not what is advertised.

    Finola although capable of producing 6% CBD is not suited to the climate of Italy, so I’m afraid I would question whether these truly are the strains grown or if they are “manipulated” examples. Either way, they aint gonna be legal.

    I remain to be convinced, send me the proof and I’ll happily pass my opinion past the lawyers, but I think this is the latest in a long line of not entirely intelligent attempts to make an unlawful product lawful.

    Let’s get this straight now though, we’re not against the selling of CBD buds, we are against people trying to legitimise a product that is not entirely legal and trying to use a legal loophole that doesn’t exist. These items need to be what they say and correctly identify their claims…and then we can work with government to ensure that these products can be sold legally,

  2. So if it is kompolti or Finola and chopped buds and sold purely as tea with no health claims and not for smoking it is entirely legal ?

  3. Have just read this about Finola
    In 2018, we organised a broad survey of field samples from six industrial scale FINOLA farmers in Finland. All samples were collected at the same time as the grain harvest. The amount of CBD in the dried vegetative material ranged from 0.67% to 7.35% CBD, with an average value of 2.19% CBD.

    Production from smaller scale row crop or garden scale conditions

    If stems and large leaves are not included in the analysed sample, and only the apical tips of the mature, seedless female FINOLA flower are analysed, then the amount of CBD can exceed 15%.

    Time of sampling

    The phytochemical composition is always changing throughout a hemp plant’s life. For industrial scale production, with male and female plants, it only makes sense to link the vegetative harvest time with the grain harvest. This takes a lot of planning and coordination, and we do not have any more to say about that at this time. You have to figure this out for your own circumstance. For the row crop or garden scale production of mature, seedless female flowers, the grower is advised to observe the trichome density on the leaves to determine the optimal time of harvest. Again, you have to figure this out for your own situation.

    The sample for analysis

    It should be obvious that a sample of bulk vegetative material from a dioecious field crop will have less CBD than a carefully manicured female flower without seed. These are completely different samples, produced under completely different growing conditions. Again, it is important to understand the context of the sample, in order to understand the true value of the analytical data.

    The method of analysis

    There is no real benefit in measuring CBD and CBDA separately in a fresh hemp sample, since almost all of the CBD will exist as CBDA. For this reason and other good reasons, gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID) is the most reliable analytical tool for the analysis of total CBD (or THC) in a hemp sample. One reason why GC-FID is more reliable is because the total CBD is analysed only once. With liquid chromatographic methods, such as HPLC, CBD and CBDA must be measured separately and then added together to determine the total amount of CBD. When CBD and CBDA are quantitated separately, more possibilities for analytical errors occur than if the analysis was calculated only once for total CBD with GC-FID.

    If the goal is to know the precise and total value of CBD or THC in a hemp sample, then GC-FID is the most reliable analytical methodology.

    However, LC methods of analysis are more useful in measuring the amount of cannabinoids in hemp-derived food products, because CBDA and THCA are not orally active, and it is important for the consumer to know how much “free” CBD and THC are in an edible product.

    In summary:

    The total amount of CBD in FINOLA can range between 1-15%.

    For carefully tended female flowers without seed, the amount of CBD is typically between 5-10%, and may even exceed 15% in some apical samples.

    For industrial scale production, a dioecious field crop of FINOLA will typically have about 1-3% CBD in the dried vegetative material, and may exceed 5% in some circumstances. These results are highly dependent on the method of cultivation, the time of harvest, the type of sample that is being analyzed, and the method of analysis.

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