If you are completely confused and baffled by the subject of CBD legality in the UK in its entirety…well, let’s just say you are definitely not in the minority. Cannabis fans and followers across Britain have found themselves facing an increasingly perplexing governmental standpoint over recent years, which in many ways doesn’t appear to make a great deal of sense.
What’s more, it’s the classic case of one step forwards been compensated for by one big step backwards.
As for where things stand right now, the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) now officially recognises CBD as a medical compound. Which essentially means that after a seemingly endless period the campaign and lobbying on the part of doctors and scientists alike, the government has finally accepted that CBD represents a potentially effective medical ingredient. What’s more, so as to watch over the health and wellbeing of patients and the public in general, a series of standards have been established, which must be followed by those producing products that contain CBD.
“We have come to the opinion that products containing cannabidiol (CBD) used for medical purposes are a medicine,” an MHRA spokesperson said in the official notice published on the website of the agency.
CBD Laws in the UK
All of which of course represents a significant step forwards in the battle for medical cannabis legalization in the United Kingdom as a whole. Unfortunately, the government has still made absolutely no recognition whatsoever of the proven therapeutic benefits of the rest of the cannabis plant.
As has been the case in other countries like the United States, British cannabis policy is slowly but surely starting to evolve on the back of scientific research, laboratory tests and the first-hand anecdotal experiences of real life patients. In some instances, scientific evidence as to the benefits of CBD may be thin on the ground, but the positive feedback of hundreds or even thousands of patients using medical cannabis products speaks for itself.
From autism to epilepsy and many more chronic conditions besides, CBD has been tried, tested and verified as something of a game-changer.
In this instance, the decision taken by the MHRA to officially begin classifying CBD as a medicine without the need for year after year of sponsored clinical trials takes patients across the UK an important step closer to being able to access legal, affordable and highly effective medical cannabis products. And once again, this is undoubtedly an important step in the right direction.
CBD Recognised as a “Medical Ingredient”
Officially, the MHRA recognises that CBD qualifies for classification as a medical ingredient, when considered in accordance with criteria outlining a “substance or combination of substances that may be used by or administered to human beings with a view to restoring, correcting or modifying a physiological function by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action, or making a medical diagnosis.”
Which is, of course, a definition that goes completely against the government’s current overall classification of cannabis, which labels it as a harmful substance with no positive or beneficial effects or applications whatsoever. In any case, the fact that CBD has been reclassified as a medical ingredient doesn’t necessarily mean that it will suddenly become easier to obtain cannabis-based medicines in general.
If things continue along their current course, official medicinal regulation will require in the United Kingdom to obtain licensing to be able to sell CBD products legally. Which in its own right is a costly process, involving an application that costs more than £100,000. In turn, it is extremely unlikely that any of the smaller sellers on the market would be able to compete with the bigger pharmaceutical companies, resulting in the usual monopoly.
Just as is the case with all prescription medication, it isn’t as if anyone is going to be able to simply pop into an outlet and gain access to CBD products. Instead, it will be the usual case of the products that have been authorised for use in the United Kingdom being available exclusively on prescription, under the recommendation of an authorized physician.
Accessing Cannabidiol Medicines in the UK
Which once again presents two rather glaring problems. The first of which being that there simply isn’t what you would call an effective or useful contingency of CBD medicines currently available in the UK as a whole. Instead, it will likely be some time before they become readily available enough to be considered practical. And even when this happens, this doesn’t necessarily mean that many physicians will not be highly sceptical and resistant when it comes to their use.
Even in North American states where medical cannabis has been legal for many years, finding a doctor willing to prescribe it isn’t always easy.
As it stands for the time being, the only products containing CBD in the United Kingdom that can be legally purchased by anyone are those that contain only the tiniest quantities of the compound. Certainly not enough to have any kind of significant effect whatsoever. Even after legalization in a medical sense, this is something that isn’t likely to change in the near future.
Importation of CBD Products
Interestingly, the whole grey area when it comes to the legalization (or otherwise) of CBD products for medicinal purposes becomes even cloudier when it comes to importation. For example, most people are fully aware of the fact but while it is illegal to purchase or distribute drugs like Diazepam, Viagra and Prozac in the United Kingdom without full authorisation and the required prescription, no specific regulations exist in terms of buying online internationally.
As far as the importation of medicinal product is concerned, which would also cover CBD, personal possession and acquisition that doesn’t breach domestic supply rules does not constitute a criminal offence.
Regulation 17 paragraph (1) states:
“A person may not, except in accordance with a licence (a ‘manufacturer’s licence’)—
(a) manufacture, assemble or import from a state other than an EEA State [European Economic Area] any medicinal product; or
(b) possess a medicinal product for the purpose of any activity in sub-paragraph (a).”
Regulation 17(6) states:
“Paragraph (1) does not apply to a person who imports a medicinal product for administration to himself or herself or to any other person who is a member of that person’s household.”
Which would seem to suggest that with the new classification of CBD as a medicine, anyone wishing to do so is now free to import CBD products from anywhere in the world, either for their own use or for that of a child within the household, without breaking any law whatsoever.
Should this be the case, it would represent one of the biggest and most important turnarounds in the history of medical cannabis legislation for the United Kingdom. But at the same time, it will also present a series of risks.
The risk of criminalisation When Using CBD Oil
The first of which being the fact that you really have little way of knowing what exactly is in the bottle. While the CBD content of the product may technically be legal, it could contain THC or other ingredients and compounds that would effectively render you guilty of importing illegal drugs.
The risk of experimentation with CBD Oil
And of course, there are the obvious dangers that accompany any kind of self-medication that involves unknown products that haven’t been recommended or prescribed by a professional. Not only do you not know what’s in the bottle, you don’t know if or how you will react upon putting it to use.
So for the time being at least, the issue remains one that is as cloudy as ever. Though on the plus side, this does seem to be a rare example of a step in the right direction that hasn’t (yet) been entirely reversed.