CBD is one of a family of chemicals called cannabinoids found in the cannabis or hemp plants. It’s becoming increasingly popular for its purported health benefits, with people using it to ease everything from anxiety to pain and even insomnia. But is it safe? And is it legal to buy and sell?
The UK’s laws around CBD are complicated. In general, foods containing it are classified as novel foods, which means they’re subject to extra regulations. These include ensuring they’re safe to eat, correctly labelled and free from misleading content. They must also be deemed suitable to replace another food in a diet and not lead to nutritional disadvantages.
In addition, foods containing CBD aren’t allowed to make specific health claims unless they’re licensed as medicines. Only one product containing CBD has been given this status, and it’s being prescribed on the NHS to treat two types of severe epilepsy.
As such, people looking to buy CBD products are often left confused by the different claims being made on packaging. Charlotte Caldwell, whose son Billy has severe epilepsy, has campaigned for better research and regulation of CBD products and launched her own range of products called Billy’s Bud to help other sufferers. But she admits there are “hundreds, maybe thousands” of people buying CBD products off the high street in the belief that they can help with anxiety and sleep issues and reduce pain from arthritis or cancer treatments.
But it’s important to know that the CBD used in these products isn’t the same as that given by doctors as part of a medical trial. The former is more regulated and contains far higher levels of CBD, explains ITV News. That’s because it is extracted from specially bred cannabis plants with a very low THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content, which means it won’t show up on a drug test as being psychoactive.
Despite the confusion, it is possible to legally buy and sell CBD in the UK as long as it doesn’t contain more than 0.2% THC and is made from EU-approved industrial hemp. However, this is not a licence to make unsubstantiated health claims and many CBD retailers have been contacted by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency over misleading advertising. It’s also worth noting that CBD can interact with certain drugs and might affect how they work. This is why it’s always best to talk to your GP before trying any new supplement, particularly if you’re already taking prescription medications. They can offer more advice on how to use CBD safely. CBD UK