CBD in the UK: FAQ for Beginners

CBD in the UK: FAQ for Beginners

As international cannabis laws change, CBD becomes more of a buzzword in international circles, and the United Kingdom is no exception. According to the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA), around 300,000 people in the UK use CBD oil each month.

If you’re like many people, you may be scratching your head, wondering how a nutritional supplement could reach quasi-cult status. We’ve prepared this short guide to help you separate the facts from the hype about this remarkable supplement.

What Is CBD, And How Does It Work?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 known compounds found in cannabis plants. In the 1990s, a scientist named Raphael Mechoulam discovered the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). With receptors located throughout the human body, the ECS helps to regulate various bodily functions such as pain reception, temperature, appetite, and memory. 

Our bodies produce natural endocannabinoids that bind to receptors to help regulate other systems. Phytocannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) also have the power to affect receptors in the ECS.

Why Is CBD So Popular?

As the dangers and unpleasant side-effects of pharmaceuticals become more apparent, people are increasingly turning to natural remedies. Consumers look for safe and non-addictive alternatives to prescription pain-relievers, anxiety medications, and sedatives. 

Medical cannabis products may impart many of the same benefits as CBD. However, some people prefer a solution that will not make them high, carry a social stigma, or cause them to fail a mandatory drug test.

What Does CBD Do?

While CBD cannot substitute for proper medical treatment, recent studies have shown promise that CBD may help with many common complaints, such as:

  • Arthritis: Animal studies published in the European Journal of Pain suggest that CBD may help reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
  • Anxiety: According to a 2011 Brazilian study, cannabidiol may reduce anxiety in people suffering from social phobia.
  • Digestive disorders: Clinical studies have shown major promise for CBD as a treatment for inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
  • Depression: According to a US government study, cannabinoids like CBD may have antidepressant effects.
  • Epilepsy: The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recently approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based drug, for treatment of childhood epilepsy.
  • Neurodegenerative disorders: Various studies dating from as far back as 1974 conclude that cannabinoids, including CBD, may have neuroprotective properties. Although more study is needed, the potential of CBD could be life-changing for people suffering from neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis. The UK has officially licensed Bayer Pharmaceuticals to sell Sativex by prescription for the treatment of MS. Sativex contains both CBD and THC.
  • Skin conditions: Peer-reviewed studies have concluded that CBD and other cannabinoids have the potential to treat a variety of skin conditions, including dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis.
  • Cancer treatment: Emerging studies have shown that cannabinoids such as CBD may suppress tumor-growth in cancer patients. Doctors in legal, medical cannabis communities throughout the world have been prescribing cannabis to counteract the unpleasant effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and loss of appetite.

Is CBD Legal In The UK?

With the passing of the 2018 Agricultural Act, the United States legalized cannabis plants and products containing less than .3% THC. In the same year, a group of mothers convinced Parliament to permit doctors to prescribe CBD for certain medical conditions.

The European Union has assigned food products containing CBD isolates to the Novel Food Catalogue. The official government directory lists foods not commonly consumed before 1997. Because CBD can be isolated from either a variety of Cannabis sativa, the UK has designated CBD isolates as Novel Foods. The designation subjects products containing CBD extracts to more intense regulations and a lengthy, expensive permitting process.

What Is Hemp-Derived CBD?

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants. High-THC “marijuana” strains can be either Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. The hemp plant is a variety of Cannabis sativa historically used for industrial purposes. After generations of being cultivated for its stems and seeds, industrial-hemp cannabis varieties typically contain less than 0.2% THC, which is the legal limit in the UK.

During decades of cannabis prohibition, cannabis growers cultivated plants that contain exceptionally high amounts of THC. Although high THC cannabis strains also typically contain CBD, they are less efficient sources of cannabidiol. Moreover, CBD derived from plants containing more than 0.2% THC remains illegal in the UK.

Is Legal Hemp Grown In The UK?

Farmers on the island of Jersey were the first in the UK to receive a license to cultivate hemp for CBD oil. The company, called Jersey Hemp, had been growing hemp for industrial purposes for three years. Until the recent licensing, the farmers were only permitted to use the stems and seeds. They were previously forced to waste the flowers, which have a high concentration of CBD.

In order to grow hemp in the United Kingdom, one must obtain a license from the Home Office. Even then, cultivation is only legal if they meet certain strict conditions. Furthermore, the police must be briefed about the exact location of the crops.

Where does CBD in the UK come from?

Although hemp is mostly legal in the UK, most CBD manufacturers import raw material from farms in the EU. In any case, the plant must definitely contain less than 0.2% THC in order to be cleared for import.

Will CBD Make Me High?

Unlike its sister cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive and acts to reduce the effects of THC.

Is CBD Safe?

Reported side-effects from CBD are relatively mild and usually can be remedied by adjusting the dosage. Some CBD side-effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Appetite changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea

It’s always best to speak with a trusted medical professional before adding any new nutritional supplement to your daily regime. CBD can interact with certain prescription medications.

How Do I Consume CBD?

  • Vape Oil: Vaping CBD allows for the quickest onset times. CBD oil must be specially formulated in order to be suitable for vaping. The best vape oils use natural emulsifiers and avoid additives like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Consumers must also beware of black market vape oils, which can cause serious health consequences.
  • Sublingual Tinctures: Some CBD tinctures can be taken in drops under the tongue. The CBD enters into the capillaries and provides users with slightly quicker onset times than typical edibles.
  • Edibles: Water-soluble CBD can be added to food and beverages. Although it takes longer to feel relief from CBD edibles, the effects will last longer.
  • Capsules: Premeasured capsules provide users with precise dosages of CBD. Capsules also allow for discrete use.

How Do I Choose The Best CBD Product?

There are several factors to consider when shopping for CBD, such as:

  • Full-spectrum or isolate: While isolates only contain CBD, full-spectrum extracts provide the complete array of cannabinoids and terpenes found in cannabis plants. These compounds work together to make CBD more effective.
  • Bioavailable: Water-soluble CBD products can be metabolized easier, making them both more effective and economical.
  • Organic: Cannabis plants are bio-accumulators. They will absorb any toxins in their environment and pass them on to the consumer. It is crucial that you choose 100% certified, lab-tested, organic CBD.
  • Hypoallergenic: If you are gluten-intolerant or have food allergies, make sure your CBD oil is gluten-free with no added soy, dairy, or nuts.
  • CTA Approval: Look for CBD brands that have been tested and approved by the Cannabis Trades Association.
  • Level of CBD: There are many types of CBD-infused food supplements, all with different potency levels. There is no right or wrong choice, but you will have to choose according to your needs.
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About the author

George Mouratidis works as a full-time copywriter and journalist. He is the founder of WeedCopywriter.com, a bespoke content writing agency for the cannabis industry. George is a regular editor for many industry publications, as well as corporate blogs. He is also the co-writer of the book Ganja Hustle; a hit cannabis growing guide for the USA and Canada markets. When he is not writing, George likes to work out, trying new foods and playing with his cat. Currently, he lives in Greece.