When CBD products first hit the mainstream, there was a lot of confusion about whether or not they were legal thanks to their connection to cannabis. We still get asked today if our CBD gummies are legal, so we’re going to take a look at the UK laws on CBD and explain exactly why our ZenBears are on the straight and narrow!
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is what’s known as a “cannabinoid”. It’s one of many natural substances found in the hemp plant, along with another cannabinoid called THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol.
Your body also makes its own cannabinoids, known as “endocannabinoids”. They’re an important part of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates essential processes like appetite, sleep, metabolism, immunity, and so on.
When you consume external cannabinoids — from CBD gummies for example – they act on your ECS in a similar way to your own endocannabinoids. Each cannabinoid behaves in its own unique way in the body, which brings us to the next point…
Doesn’t THC get you stoned?
If you consume enough, yes. Before we go any further, let’s clarify some of the vocab around CBD and cannabis.
People use terms like “cannabis”, “marijuana” and “hemp” interchangeably, but there’s an important difference.
Cannabis is the general term for the substance you’d smoke, AKA pot or weed, but it’s also the name of a family of plants that includes both hemp and marijuana. Both contain CBD and THC in varying amounts.
THC will get you stoned – if you take enough. That’s because THC has a “psychoactive” effect on the brain. CBD behaves completely differently. It’s not a psychoactive, so matter how much CBD you take, it simply isn’t capable of getting you high.
The marijuana plant – used to make the cannabis you’d smoke – is high in THC and low in CBD. That’s why smoking cannabis gets you high (and one of the reasons why it’s a controlled substance).
The hemp plant – used to make CBD gummies — has lots of CBD but is naturally low in THC. Because of that, CBD gummies and other CBD products won’t get you high.
So while CBD is broadly related to the cannabis you’d smoke, and CBD products can contain THC too, taking CBD gummies is not the same thing as smoking cannabis. That’s why the laws around both are different.
So are CBD gummies legal in the UK?
Yes, CBD gummies are legal! Cannabis is a controlled substance in the UK, but CBD is legal as long as it meets certain conditions. These conditions are designed to control the THC content, not the CBD content.
First, any CBD product, including gummies, can only be made from specific strains of EU-approved hemp, which contain no more that 0.2% of THC.
Second, the final CBD product must not contain more than 1mg of THC per container.
This means that in theory, you can take CBD gummies knowing that they contain a very low, controlled amount of THC. That said, the industry is not regulated as well as it could be right now, and some brands get away with having more THC than they claim.
They’re still very unlikely to have enough THC to cause noticeable psychoactive effects, but maybe enough to cause you problems if you’re drug-tested at work, for example.
The only way to be sure that you’re getting legally complaint CBD gummies is to buy from a brand that publishes their independent, third-party lab reports (like ZenBears!).
What if I don’t want any THC at all?
If you’d rather not take your chances with THC, go for CBD gummies that are “broad-spectrum”, or those made with CBD isolate. Here’s what that means…
When the oil is extracted from the hemp plant to make CBD products, it contains CBD, THC, and tons of other beneficial plant compounds, like vitamins and terpenes. CBD gummies and other products made with this oil are called “full-spectrum”.
“Broad-spectrum” means that the THC has been removed from the oil, but everything else is left as it is – perfect if you want all the benefits of the hemp plant but you don’t want to take THC.
If your CBD gummies are made with “CBD isolate”, that means that just the CBD was extracted from the oil and used to make the product. It doesn’t contain any THC, but it doesn’t contain other plant compounds either.
So there are plenty of ways to enjoy CBD gummies with or without THC. Whichever you choose, though, our advice still stands: always check the lab reports to be sure of what you’re getting! No lab reports? Treat it as a red flag.
Is there anything else I should be aware of?
Yes. Brands that sell CBD gummies have to play by certain rules when advertising. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) forbids them from making medical claims about their CBD products, which includes claims about relieving certain symptoms, curing illnesses, or providing specific health benefits.
If you come across a brand that makes claims like this, be wary. If they’re willing to break the law with their advertising, they’re probably willing to ignore all kinds of other rules, too – safety checks, labelling, manufacturing standards, legal THC content… It’s not worth the risk, especially when there are plenty of honest, compliant and transparent brands on the market. For example…
ZenBears are broad-spectrum CBD gummies with all the goodness of the (organic, legally compliant!) hemp plant, but none of the THC. And to prove these tasty little bears are on the up and up, you’ll get an independent lab report with every single bottle.