There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the legality of CBD hemp buds in the UK. Websites such as Clear state that hemp flowers are completely illegal, yet there are vast numbers of hemp products for sale online and in high street shops.
- What are CBD flowers/CBD buds?
- Why are people using hemp buds instead of normal weed?
- Where to buy CBD products
- What is the confusion about?
- So…Are CBD buds legal?
What are CBD flowers/CBD buds?
CBD flowers are the buds from hemp plants. They look and smell exactly like normal, illegal cannabis, however they contain negligible traces of the chemical THC – the chemical responsible for the high induced from normal cannabis, which is also an illegal chemical in the UK.
Hemp plants are legal to grow in the UK under a government-issued license. The main purposes of growing hemp are for:
- The stem – For its fibers which are used in textiles
- The seeds – For use as a health/food supplement
Other uses of the hemp plant consist of health care products such as soaps and creams, which use CBD extracted from the hemp plant.
Why are people using hemp buds instead of normal weed?
Hemp flowers contain a low THC content, they have a CBD content of between 5-15% and also contain a variety of other cannabinoids.
Cannabinoids, especially CBD, have been found to contain medical properties which improve conditions such as: Inflammation, general & chronic pain, seizures, insomnia, depression and anxiety. There is also evidence which shows CBD to be effective in treating drug addictions.
Since hemp flowers do not produce a high when consumed, they are a valuable product to many people who do not want to feel high or consume pharmaceutical medicines, but require a natural pain relief.
Ingesting CBD has also shown to be effective for general health, such as improved digestion and improved mental acuteness. The WHO stated that there is no risk to health and no potential to abuse with CBD.
In Switzerland, CBD buds are sold as a “healthy alternative to tobacco”. It is even sold in shops such as Lidl!
Where can I buy CBD products?
If you are looking for CBD buds, CBD vape juices, CBD infused edibles, CBD pet treats or CBD healthcare products; We’ve summarized our top 5 picks for each category in our article of where to buy CBD products.
If hemp is legal to grow, what's the confusion about?
Hemp buds look and smell exactly the same as normal cannabis, which makes it pretty much impossible to distinguish between hemp buds and cannabis buds without laboratory tests. So the police may not know where they stand. Do they confiscate and test it, just give you a warning or believe you that it’s not cannabis?
Hemp is from the same plant family as cannabis. Cannabis is clearly stated as illegal to cultivate and distribute under the Misuse of Drugs act (MoDA), does this then indirectly include hemp? But since the MoDA does not explicitly state hemp is illegal, people tend to believe this means hemp is exempt from the ruling.
Under the MoDA, cannabis-derived products are exempt if they contain no more than 0.2% THC. This leads many people to believe that this classes hemp as exempt, as it contains under 0.2%THC.
So... Are CBD buds legal?
Firstly, hemp buds are from hemp plants, not cannabis plants. Yes they are in the cannabis family, but they are not cannabis. The MoDA states cannabis is illegal, not hemp.
Similar to the point above, THC (the psychoactive chemical in cannabis) is the illegal chemical, CBD (non psychoactive) is not illegal. CBD is also recognized as a medicine in the UK by the MHRA and CBD in it’s purest form, is exempt from the MoDA and PSA.
The 2016 psychoactive substances act would therefore not apply to hemp buds as they are non-psychoactive, are a recognized medical product and can also be sold as a food supplement – Under the 2016 psychoactive substances act, products/substances are exempt if they are non-psychoactive and are sold as a food or supplement – CBD buds are sold as tea, so to be classed as a food.
In the MoDA, there are exceptions to illegal cannabis products. If the cannabis-derived product contains under 0.2% THC, it is legal to cultivate (with a license). The product must also be processed, i.e. it cannot be a raw cannabis product. The argument for hemp buds is that they’re not raw, but are processed; Cutting, trimming, drying and curing are all “processes” which should exemplify hemp from the MoDA. However, industrial hemp licenses only apply to the stem and seeds – there is no mention of the flower/buds.
There are literally hundreds of companies across Europe selling hemp buds/flowers, and the number of sellers is increasing. Surely if it was strictly illegal and not tolerated by the authorities there would be a crack down?
Following from the previous point, there have been high street shops in the UK that police have raided on suspicion of selling normal cannabis. Only to then have the case/charges dropped after sending the hemp products to be tested in laboratories which come back proving they are not high THC cannabis.
The law regarding hemp buds is a real grey area and is not as straightforward as many people would like. Some say it’s legal, some say it’s illegal.
The MoDA does not explicitly state that medicinal or food products derived and processed from hemp, containing under 0.2% THC are illegal. However it should be noted, CBD products which contain any controlled substances are highly likely to be a controlled product.
To grow hemp in the UK, you must obtain a license, which prohibits growing any strains containing above 0.2% THC. In other European countries, the 0.2% limit is slightly higher: 1% THC per unit. Assuming a person/company has been issued a license, the regulations do not specify that the product cannot be sold on.
It seems many suppliers of hemp buds are able to carry on their sales due to selling the buds as a food supplement, usually as tea – CBD products sold as food are exempt from the MoDA/PSA.
According to the 2012 drugs act, if the user can prove they are consuming CBD for medical reasons, they are not committing a criminal offence. It seems 99.9% of people consuming hemp buds will be doing so for medical or health reasons, as it doesn’t get you high, yet it treats a vast range of conditions.
Where would you draw the line between legal and illegal? Vape juices derived from hemp, containing CBD, are undoubtedly legal, so too are CBD sweets and creams. Yet the MoDA states, any product with any controlled substance is a controlled substance. Does that then mean even full spectrum CBD vape juices are also illegal?
We believe in increasing everyone’s awareness that these “grey area” products exist. Hopefully they become normalized and people start to realize that cannabis is not just consumed to get stoned, but also widely used for genuine medical and health benefits. Far too many people still believe the old propaganda and misconceptions of cannabis.
It is comparable situation to Amsterdam – Cannabis is not actually completely legal there, yet coffee shops are allowed to operate.
Let us know your views on hemp buds in the comments below.
Please read below disclaimer
This article is only our opinion on the matter. We are not advising you to consume any low THC products, we are merely discussing points from the MoDA and psychoactive substances act which could class hemp buds as legal. Since hemp buds are in a serious grey area of the law, you could be prosecuted for purchasing/consuming them.