Is Hemp Legal In The UK?
An overview of the UK laws surrounding hemp and its cultivation.
When people first start looking into the amazing world of hemp we find that there are certain questions that get asked time and again such as, is hemp and cannabis the same thing? Is hemp legal in the UK? How do you take it?
Therefore we thought it would be helpful to try and answer some of these frequently asked questions relating to hemp and CBD in the following blog.
Well, to put it simply, hemp is merely a common nickname that has been given to Cannabis Sativa strains that have very little tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, meaning it has no psychoactive effects, so it won’t get you ‘high’.
Known as Industrial or food-grade hemp, it is grown and harvested for many reasons, including its seeds, which are made into food products such as milk, flour and hemp-seed oil and producing fibres for rope and clothing. Cannabis in all its forms has been cultivated by man for its multitude of uses and benefits for at least 10,000 years.
Hemp Plant In The Sun
Holding A Hemp Plant
Young Hemp Plant
When it comes to cannabis, it seems to be all about the different names that get banded around.
Hemp is cannabis and cannabis is known to grow easily and in abundance like weeds- hence its other popular nickname.
However, as we established earlier, hemp tends to be low THC strains whereas the terms “Grass”, “Weed” and “Marijuana” have all been used to describe Cannabis strains that have higher levels of THC than what would be deemed acceptable to be called hemp (sometimes up to 30% THC), hemp is therefore not what most people would refer to as weed.
On a side note, the name Marijuana thankfully is declining in use as people realise it was a racist term given to the cannabis plant to negatively associate it with Mexican refugees that were fleeing into the United States from the Mexican Revolution in the early 1900s.
Propaganda was used to scaremonger and create fear in what was later termed “Reefer Madness”. This eventually went on to America passing the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 and all cannabis varieties, including hemp to be deemed illegal for decades and decline in use across much of the world.
Hemp Plant Close Up
As Hemp is the cannabis Sativa plant, it still falls under the UK’s outdated Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (section 37) which pretty much states that regardless of THC level, cannabis is classed as a controlled substance, this means that whole bud and resin from the hemp plant is still classed as illegal.
However, It is legal to grow industrial hemp in the UK providing a farmer has obtained the correct hemp cultivation licence from the Home Office and is growing hemp seeds from the approved EU strains list with less than 0.2% THC.
Even then, only the seeds and stems are allowed to be used with the remainder of the crop having to be disposed of or destroyed! Once the hemp bud has been processed it is classed as legal in the UK and can be used for things like producing CBD Oils, balms, gels or Creams, beard oil, moisturizer, tea etc but it is currently illegal for a UK grower or farmer to process the hemp buds which means that it has to be processed outside of the UK which is why much of the hemp used in products like CBD oils is grown and processed in the EU or further afield.
There is obviously growing pressure on the UK government to re-address the frustrating and wasteful laws around the processing of hemp buds and flowers in the UK, which will not only increase our ‘home-grown’ production and provide a huge opportunity for the UK economy but also reduce costs and the environmental impact from having to process outside of the UK.
So to clarify, for the most part, yes, hemp is legal in the UK providing the above criteria has been met.
It is perfectly legal in the UK for consumers to buy approved hemp-derived cannabis products such as CBD oils etc but not whole CBD bud which is currently a restrain on UK manufacturers.
Small Hemp Plant
This is a question that causes a lot of confusion, is hemp oil and cannabis oil the same thing? Well, as we have already established hemp is the cannabis Sativa plant, albeit with a low trace of THC.
Cannabis Sativa contains a vast array of cannabinoids including CBD which can be extracted to make cannabis oil.
Hemp has excellent levels of the cannabinoids without any intoxicating effects so it is used to make things like CBD oils, teas and skincare products.
The term Hemp oil is growing in popularity as an alternative when referring to a full-spectrum CBD , which we have established is made from food-grade hemp. The CBD and other cannabinoids are infused into a carrier oil such as MCT (liquid coconut oil), Olive oil etc although it can also be extracted into hemp seed oil.
The confusion comes in because hemp oil is what many people also call the oil that has been cold-pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant aka Hemp-seed oil.
Hemp-seed oil is really good for you but it doesn’t have the high concentrations of cannabinoids like CBD that you find in the rest of the plant so you need to make sure that you understand the difference between hemp-seed oil and hemp oil (CBD) so you know what you are buying.
Organic hemp-seed oil is very beneficial for a healthy lifestyle and highly nutritious when incorporated into your diet.
It’s delicious on salads and in cooking and contains vitamins and helpful omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids as well as being excellent for the skin making it a popular choice for creams, balms and massage oils.
On the whole, a full spectrum CBD food supplement product is what most people are referring to when they say cannabis oil or hemp oil but do note that cannabis oil is also a name used for medicinal-grade cannabis oil which often has higher levels of THC and CBD than you would get from industrial hemp and which is now being prescribed by some medical professionals around the world for certain conditions.
For more information on the difference between full-spectrum, broad-spectrum & isolate oil, check out our blog here.
For the purposes of answering the commonly asked questions of how to take hemp oil, I am going to be assuming that we are referring to a full-spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) oil made from the hemp plant and not hemp-seed oil as they are two different things as discussed previously.
If you are wanting to maintain your endocannabinoid system then there are many ways to able to take hemp CBD oil with one of the most popular being sublingual drops. Sublingual absorption (which simply means under the tongue) is generally accepted to be a much faster and more efficient way of getting CBD into the system than say capsules or tablets.
Hemp Oil CBD products vary massively but most people tend to start on a low strength oil, taking 1-2 drops, which are held under the tongue for at least 30 seconds, two-three times a day.
It goes without saying that you should always read the instructions carefully for the product you have bought and take accordingly. Some hemp CBD oils have now been incorporated into lozenges, tablet and capsules as well as edibles such as gummy sweets, CBD infused honey, drinks and chocolates so there is pretty much something for everyone.
Yes, actually you can smoke hemp- although you can’t get high from it due to the low levels of THC, It’s a bit of a myth that smoking hemp just gives you a headache and even though hemp isn’t the form of cannabis most people would think of smoking, it is gaining huge popularity as a herbal smoking mix with full-spectrum hemp pre-rolls popping up to meet consumer demand.
Smoking hemp is one of the fastest delivery methods of getting cannabidiol in the body, however for some people the health implication of smoking a hemp cigarette, even in place of nicotine cigarettes outways the benefits of other delivery methods such as vaping, where you can opt for a specific CBD Vape Juice.
Smoking CBD Vape Juice
CBD Vape In Nature
Rather than asking what hemp is used for, perhaps we should be asking what hemp isn’t used for? Hemp or good old cannabis really is a wonder plant with a whole host of ways it can be utilized.
We already know that hemp can be grown for food and textiles, health supplements and medicines but did you know that it can also be made into paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel, paints, inks, detergents, animal feeds and body care products?
This is not exhaustive by any means as the list of things hemp can be used for seems almost endless.
Hemp is also fantastic for the environment as it absorbs carbon dioxide as well as detoxifying soil, and preventing soil erosion. It can be used in the building and construction industry in the form of hempcrete and has even been used to clean up environmental disasters like Chernobyl.
To find out more about some of the uses for hemp and how it can help us to have a greener future you might want to check out our last blog post - Hemp and the environment
Building with Hemp
We hope you enjoyed reading our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about hemp and that it’s helped to give a bit more clarity.
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