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CBD Flowers: what are they and are they legal in the UK?

CBD flowers in a jar

There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of CBD, but one, in particular, has been gaining attention lately. CBD flowers are widely available online, but the big question is: are they legal? The short answer is no, but in this article, we’ll explain why they’re illegal, why you can still buy them, and whether or not you should. But first – what exactly are CBD flowers? 

What are CBD flowers?

CBD (cannabidiol) is a substance called a cannabinoid, naturally found in the hemp plant. CBD oil and other CBD products are made by extracting oil from the hemp plant, which also contains other cannabinoids like THC. Short for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the substance that gets you high when you smoke cannabis.

The cannabis that you smoke comes from the marijuana plant, which is high in THC, but CBD products are made from hemp plants that are specially cultivated to have high levels of CBD and very low levels of THC. (That’s why cannabis gets you high but CBD products don’t.)

A CBD flower is a bud from one of these hemp plants. On a marijuana plant, that’s the same part of the plant you’d smoke. The flowers from both plants look, smell and taste pretty much identical. You can smoke CBD flowers, or use them in edibles and other products, same as you might with cannabis. 

Are CBD flowers legal in the UK?

No, CBD flowers are not legal in the UK. But why not, when CBD is legal?

Cannabis is also the name of a family of plants. Hemp and marijuana belong to this family, and that’s where the recreational drug got its name. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, the UK outlaws all products of plants from the cannabis family – not just recreational cannabis from the marijuana plant. 

The exception is hemp seeds, stalks and fibres. If you have a license to cultivate hemp in the UK, you can use only these parts of the plant for commercial production. Everything else – including the CBD flowers – has to be destroyed. For the intent of the law, the government considers them to be cannabis. 

As CBD became more popular, the government updated the law to legalise CBD products made from hemp, as long as they meet two conditions: 

  • They’re made from specific strains of approved hemp containing no more that 0.2% of THC. 
  • The final product contains less than 1mg of THC per container. 

A CBD oil that met these criteria would be considered legal, but CBD flowers that met the same criteria would not. You’d face the same penalties as you would for possessing cannabis – up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine. 

CBD fans and activists believe that this antiquated law should be updated based on what we know about CBD today. After all, it doesn’t get you high, so why should it be treated the same as a drug that does?

It’s been pointed out that because CBD flowers and cannabis are identical, police wouldn’t be able to distinguish between the two. It would be very difficult to enforce the law on one while allowing the other. Unless they could forensically examine the substance in every case (far too expensive), they’d end up wrongfully prosecuting people for CBD flower possession, or being unable to prosecute anyone for cannabis possession. 

Of course, you could say that’s an argument for decriminalising cannabis, rather than criminalising CBD flower. But that’s a debate for another day! The bottom line is, at this moment in time, CBD flower is still illegal in the UK. 

So how come you can buy CBD flowers online?

There are plenty of stores offering CBD flowers online, but none of them are doing it legally. Enforcement agencies can take a while to catch up with illegal traders due to a lack of resources, but you can assume that they’ll eventually be shut down. 

Until then, if you buy CBD flowers from them or anyone else, you risk getting prosecuted if you’re caught with it. Police have made a point of letting people know that ignorance is no defence. In other words, you can’t just say: “Well I assumed it was legal because it was for sale!”

Why you should avoid CBD flowers (and what to try instead)

Legal risks aside, when you’re buying CBD flowers online, you don’t know where they come from and what’s in them. The seller can make all sorts of claims about where the hemp was grown and under what conditions, how much CBD it contains, and how much THC it doesn’t contain. But it’s highly unlikely they would have found a reputable UK lab willing to test an illegal product, so you only have their word to go on. And since they’re not afraid to break the law, they’re probably not above telling you a few tall tales in exchange for your hard-earned cash! 

Their CBD flowers could be perfectly fine. On the other hand, they could have come from hemp that was grown in poor-quality soil, full of heavy metals and mould, and treated with all sorts of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and other harmful toxins. They might contain way less CBD than you paid for or way more THC than you bargained for. If you have a job that involves operating machinery, working with vulnerable people, or regularly being tested for drugs, that could land you in serious financial or legal trouble. 

We say: why take that risk when there are so many amazing, legal CBD products right here in our online CBD store? You can guarantee that every single one of them is made from the highest-quality, legally compliant hemp, with exactly the amount of CBD and THC it claims to have. And because we insist on publishing third-party, independent lab reports to back it up, you don’t just have to take our word for it!

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