Is CBD legal in UK & Where to Buy it

In this buyer’s guide, we’ll dive into the best CBD products available in the UK. We’ll also clarify UK law regarding the sale and use of CBD, and offer some insider tips on purchasing CBD from UK stores and online.
Written by 
Emma Francis Stone, Ph.D.
|Last Updated:

Here are our key findings:

  • The sale of CBD flowers and buds derived from hemp is prohibited in the UK.
  • CBD products are considered a food supplement (when ingested) or a cosmetic (when applied topically) and must be labeled to indicate this.
  • The sale of CBD isolate products derived from industrial hemp is legal in the UK provided they are in inhalation format (such as a vape pen).
  • CBD isolate powders, tinctures, or oils, however, are illegal.
  • Products containing detectable levels of THC, or other controlled cannabinoids such as THC-V, may be considered controlled substances according to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA). As such, it’s advisable to avoid purchasing full-spectrum CBD products.

Buying CBD in the UK can be confusing. CBD products are subject to legislation that’s somewhat complex, making it tricky to determine what’s explicitly legal–and what isn’t.

According to the government’s framework, cannabidiol (CBD) is permitted in the UK, but there should not be any ‘controlled substances’ in the product. The maximum legal limit of any controlled cannabinoid is 1 milligram per container (regardless of how much product is held within the container). Controlled substances include psychoactive cannabinoids such as THC or THCV. However, many legal experts recommend that consumers opt for products that are completely free of THC, such as CBD isolate or broad spectrum products, to avoid difficulties. Nonetheless, UK authorities appear to have adopted a soft stance on policing CBD as the current legislation is so ambiguous, which is why a range of CBD products can be found in UK stores.

In this Leafreport guide, we’ll reveal our list of the top five CBD brands available in the UK, along with a complete list of all the brands that ship to the region. We’ll also help demystify some of the complex legislation surrounding CBD so you feel informed and empowered when purchasing. Lastly, we’ll give you the lowdown on shopping for CBD in the UK, both in person and online!

The best CBD products in the UK

Despite the stringent rules that govern the sale of CBD products, there is an abundance of CBD retailers that ship to the United Kingdom. Using the Leafreport rating system, we’ve chosen five of the most reputable CBD brands, and profiled them below.

For a brief breakdown of the scoring categories that we use to evaluate each brand, read on.

Leafreport’s scoring categories

Our rating system calculates scores according to the five criteria listed below. We add these scores across five categories to arrive at a total score out of 100.

Here are the five categories that we judge:

  • Transparency, Accuracy & Reputation examines the brand’s third-party potency and purity results, their reputation, and whether details regarding their hemp cultivation and manufacturing process are readily available.
  • Hemp quality analyzes if the ingredients used in the CBD formulations are vegan, non-GMO, USDA organic certified, or derived from sustainable sources. We’re particularly interested in finding out how the brand grows their hemp.
  • Product variety checks out the range of different products and delivery formats the brand has on offer and if there are variants available. For example, can you purchase the CBD tincture in varying concentrations? Do the gummies come in different flavors?
  • Customer experience evaluate how easy it is for a customer to navigate the website, ask questions, make a purchase, and how quickly the package arrives.
  • Price and discounts analyzes value for money. We’ve averaged out the price per milligram of CBD across all CBD brands, so we can compare the brand’s price point against the industry at large. We also check out whether the brand offers any special discounts.

CBDfx

CBDfx

Transparency & Accuracy
4.5
Hemp Quality
4.4
Variety of Products
4.7
Customer Experience
5.0
Price & Discounts
5.0
Ranking updated:

Transparency & AccuracyIcon

Transparency & Accuracy

4.5

A quick look over the CBDfx website reveals detailed information on the brand’s cultivation and manufacturing process. The brand states that the hemp is organic, but it’s hard to find out whether it’s certified USDA organic.

Hemp QualityIcon

Hemp Quality

4.4

CBDfx states on its website that it uses CBD derived from pesticide-free, organically grown, non-GMO hemp in its products.

Variety of ProductsIcon

Variety of Products

4.7

CBDfx has a vast CBD product range that covers all bases: tinctures, e-liquids, gummies, capsules, creams, topicals, and pet products.

Customer ExperienceIcon

Customer Experience

5.0

If you have questions, CBDfx offers a dedicated phone number, email, and an easy-to-use contact form that allows for a quick connection with a customer service representative.

Price & DiscountsIcon

Price & Discounts

5.0

With such a diverse product selection, prices range from $0.03 – $0.75 per milligram of CBD.The brand also offers bundles, which represent an easy way to save when you’re buying combinations of products.

Over the last seven years, CBDfx has grown from its San Fernando Valley roots to become the second-largest privately held CBD company in the world, with more than 100 employees. The brand is still based in California, but now ships around the world, including to the UK.

Ali Esmaili and Jameson Rodgers launched CBDfx in 2014 with a vision that everyone should be able to access the wellness benefits offered in CBD. The brand offers a diverse array of broad-spectrum products with no detectable THC levels (which are ideal for British customers) covering everything from protein cookies to bath bombs. All CBDfx products are produced in Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) facilities adhering to clinical-grade standards. The brand uses a specialized CO2 extraction process to draw out CBD in one of the cleanest and most energy-efficient manners possible.

If there are any drawbacks associated with CBDfx, it’s that some of the products also feature minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN. British law regards certain minor cannabinoids with some suspicion due to their potential psychoactivity, so it’s possible that there could be some issues if you’re ordering online.

PureKana

Pure Kana

Transparency & Accuracy
4.8
Hemp Quality
4.4
Variety of Products
4.4
Customer Experience
4.7
Price & Discounts
4.2
Ranking updated:

Transparency & AccuracyIcon

Transparency & Accuracy

4.8

The PureKana website offers plentiful insights into their team members and the vision underpinning the brand. Third-party lab reports for both purity and potency can be easily located on their website by batch number.

Hemp QualityIcon

Hemp Quality

4.4

All PureKana’s hemp is cultivated in Kentucky, and is GMO-free, pesticide-free, but it’s not organic. CBD is drawn from the hemp using CO2 extraction, one of the safest and cleanest extraction methods.

Variety of ProductsIcon

Variety of Products

4.4

PureKana offers an extensive array of products, including gummies, edibles, topicals, vape pens, pet products and more. As a point of difference, PureKana also retails Delta-8 products and Delta-8 infused edibles.

Customer ExperienceIcon

Customer Experience

4.7

It’s easy to find your way around the website, and all products have a 30-day money back guarantee. When Leafreport approached PureKana with some questions regarding their farming practices, however, we didn’t receive a response.

Price & DiscountsIcon

Price & Discounts

4.2

PureKana pricing varies depending on the product being retailed. While some products average $0.06 per mg of CBD, others reach $0.15. This makes PureKana comparable with competitor brands. If you buy in bulk, you’ll receive a decent discount.

From their base in Scottsdale, Arizona, PureKana sends their range of CBD products across the globe, including the UK. The brand was founded by Jeff Yauck and Cody Alt, who are both experienced in the health and wellness industry. PureKana uses CBD derived from hemp that’s non-GMO, free from pesticides, solvents, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, which ticks all the right boxes–but it’s worth noting that the brand isn’t certified organic.

For Brits seeking out products that are free of THC and minor cannabinoids, the topical products and lip balms are formulated using CBD isolate. The majority of products, however, are either full-spectrum or broad-spectrum. With the UK’s somewhat ambiguous CBD laws, the presence of other minor cannabinoids, such as CBN, could pose an issue. If you’re seeking a brand that’s committed to transparency, PureKana makes it easy to access third-party lab reports on their website using their certificate of analysis search tool. The brand also helpfully offers a number of insightful resources on CBD on their website, including information about health and laws regarding CBD (though these tend to be more relevant to US customers).

PureKana doesn’t always make it explicitly clear whether products are broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD, so you have to scroll through the ingredients list to find out. If you’re looking to avoid THC entirely, ensure you’re purchasing products that are isolate or broad-spectrum formulations.

Asha Apothecary

Asha Apothecary

Transparency & Accuracy
4.5
Hemp Quality
4.4
Variety of Products
3.3
Customer Experience
4.7
Price & Discounts
4.2
Ranking updated:

Transparency & AccuracyIcon

Transparency & Accuracy

4.5

There’s abundant information about the brand’s vision and founders on the website. Asha is on a mission to create an earth-friendly CBD brand that supports both people and the planet. Their third-party product tests are accessible via a QR code on the product labels.

Hemp QualityIcon

Hemp Quality

4.4

Asha Apothecary partners with Kiss the Ground, a non-profit organization which trains farmers in the USA to shift towards regenerative agriculture models. All Asha Apothecary products use USDA-certified organic CBD, and adhere to a safe, clean supercritical CO2 extraction process to draw the CBD out from the hemp.

Variety of ProductsIcon

Variety of Products

3.3

The brand has just a handful of offerings, including tincture options, one softgel option, gummies, a topical product, and a bathbomb. All products are broad-spectrum.

Customer ExperienceIcon

Customer Experience

4.7

Asha Apothecary offers 100% free shipping on all orders.They also offer a 30-day money-back satisfaction guarantee. The website is not only visually engaging, it’s also super easy to find your way around.

Price & DiscountsIcon

Price & Discounts

4.2

The brand’s CBD products have an average price point of $.11 per mg of CBD, making their prices slightly higher than comparable organic CBD companies. There are bundles available, however, with discounts if you order several products at once.

If you’re looking for CBD products that uphold a commitment to sustainability and quality, Asha Apothecary delivers on diverse fronts. The brand is USDA organic certified and cultivates hemp using regenerative farming methods. All Asha’s shipping materials are 100% recycled and naturally biodegradable. What’s more, the brand supports a number of ecological initiatives–for example, every purchase of an Asha product supports the Farmland Scholarship Program, where students receive mentorship about regenerative approaches to farming and other disciplines.

A point of difference that demarcates Asha Apothecary from other brands is its use of proprietary nanoemulsion technology in its softgels. Nanotechnology allows CBD oil droplets to be dispersed throughout liquid, enhancing bioavailability. Customers benefit by being able to take a lower dose due to higher absorption in the bloodstream, as the nano-emulsified droplets can be spread across a larger surface area.

One drawback associated with Asha Apothecary is that their third-party potency tests indicated some variance beyond what’s acceptable. When Leafreport made an order, one product tested above the acceptable 10% variance limit and two products tested well below the 10% limit permitted. However, their products all passed purity testing for residuals, solvents, pesticides, E. coli, heavy metals, and other contaminants, which is reassuring.

Hemp Fusion

HempFusion

Transparency & Accuracy
4.7
Hemp Quality
4.4
Variety of Products
3.3
Customer Experience
4.3
Price & Discounts
3.3
Ranking updated:

Transparency & AccuracyIcon

Transparency & Accuracy

4.7

It’s easy to find information about Hemp Fusion’s approach to creating CBD, and the forces driving the brand. Hemp Fusion openly provides information about its cultivating, testing, and manufacturing processes.

Hemp QualityIcon

Hemp Quality

4.4

Hemp Fusion uses CBD extracted from pesticide free, organic non-GMO hemp that’s grown in Europe. Many of the brand’s products have received USDA organic certification. All products are formulated in a GMP-compliant facility.

Variety of ProductsIcon

Variety of Products

3.3

The brand offers a select range of tinctures, capsules, topicals and gummies. Their tincture range is available in unflavored, mint chocolate, or citrus. They also offer diverse concentrations of CBD.

Customer ExperienceIcon

Customer Experience

4.3

The Hemp Fusion website is a little confusing to navigate. The tabs are not laid out in an intuitive, user-friendly manner, and we had to hunt to find the lab results. A 90-day money-back guarantee is offered, however, providing consumers with peace of mind about their purchase

Price & DiscountsIcon

Price & Discounts

3.3

Hemp Fusion’s price point varies significantly–ranging from $0.05 – $0.93 per milligram of CBD, making their prices higher than comparable CBD brands. Discounts are available if you subscribe for monthly orders.

Founded by Naturopathic doctor Jason Mitchell, Hemp Fusion creates CBD products formulated using organic hemp. The brand has received US Hemp Authority Certification, and sources its CBD from hemp grown on European farms with ideal microclimates for cultivation. Hemp Fusion ​​supports veterans by providing discounts, and also contributes to a number of social justice initiatives such as Autism Hopes.

On the website, the support tab offers customers diverse ways to reach out with any questions. The Hemp Fusion blog provides engaging, useful information about CBD in general and the therapeutic benefits of CBD. All products are either broad spectrum or full spectrum. According to the company website, Hempfusion uses chromatography testing before subjecting its products to third-party testing to ensure accurate levels of CBD and confirm the absence of THC. Most of their products are tested for purity, but not all are. All third party lab reports can conveniently be accessed on the website by searching using the product batch number.

One drawback to be aware of is that Hemp Fusion doesn’t currently offer products that are CBD isolates (purified CBD). However, there’s a wide range of broad-spectrum products that are free of THC.

Smilyn CBD

Smilyn

Transparency & Accuracy
3.0
Hemp Quality
3.8
Variety of Products
3.1
Customer Experience
5.0
Price & Discounts
4.2
Ranking updated:

Transparency & AccuracyIcon

Transparency & Accuracy

3.0

Smilyn uses third-party labs to verify and confirm their Certificates of Analysis. According to their website, to date, not a single batch has failed to meet their testing standards.

Hemp QualityIcon

Hemp Quality

3.8

Smilyn derives its CBD from proprietary strains of hemp. Their hemp is grown in nutrient-rich soil in Colorado with the hemp farms operating under strict guidelines, using 100% organic methods. It’s unclear whether the brand has achieved USDA organic certification.

Variety of ProductsIcon

Variety of Products

3.1

Tinctures, gummies, softgels, roll-on sticks, salves, patches, lotions, face masks and pet products: Smilyn offers a diversity of CBD options available to satisfy diverse needs and tastes. The tinctures also come in a rainbow array of flavors.

Customer ExperienceIcon

Customer Experience

5.0

There’s a comprehensive FAQ available on the website that covers the most common customer questions. Contact is limited to one avenue: an online contact form where customers can send through their queries.

Price & DiscountsIcon

Price & Discounts

4.2

Smilyn’s price point varies from $0.04 – $1 per milligram of CBD, which is understandable, as their product offerings span such a range of diverse delivery methods. There’s a loyalty rewards program that enables eligible customers to access discounts.

Smilyn Wellness is a Californian-based brand. According to Brett Weiss, the company’s founder, Smilyn is focused on offering customers accessibility to a range of CBD products that support their wellness. Smilyn uses some sophisticated technologies that they claim enhance the quality of their products: food-grade ethanol is used for the extraction method, with the subsequent product subjected to a “patented technology” to ensure it is absolutely THC-free. Their THC-free status allows them to ship to diverse regions across the world, including the UK. All Smilyn’s products are broad spectrum.

Smilyn also uses nanoemulsion technology in certain product formulations. Nanoemulsion is picking up momentum in the world of CBD, as it dramatically enhances bioavailability of the cannabinoid, meaning customers can enjoy enhanced effects with lower doses. The brand offers a diverse range of CBD products and other cannabinoids such as Delta-8, Delta-10, and THC-O. The lab results are easy to access on a dedicated tab, and are laid out in a straightforward format.

If there’s one drawback associated with Smilyn, it’s that the brand doesn’t offer any money-back guarantee, and the contact options are limited. There’s no live chat feature or phone number available if you want assistance while navigating or selecting products–a feature that many CBD buyers often appreciate.

Legislation governing the retail of CBD in the UK is currently in a state of flux. The government has revealed that it is considering introducing a new exemption for cannabidiol (CBD) consumer products under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (MDR 2001).

At present, however, CBD laws are somewhat confusing. Although pure CBD in its isolate form is not a controlled substance, other cannabinoids with psychoactive properties, such as THC, are considered controlled substances.

The Home Office has taken the position that “a CBD-containing product would be controlled under the MDA 1971/MDR 2001 as a result of its other cannabinoid content.” On this interpretation, any trace of a controlled cannabinoid in a CBD product renders the whole product a controlled substance, according to the legislation. The government has also identified other minor cannabinoids as controlled substances, such as THC-V.

However, since the introduction of CBD products onto the UK consumer market, there’s been ongoing debate about the difficulty in extracting CBD in its isolate form, without any trace of THC or other controlled cannabinoids, and the UK authorities have since adopted a soft stance on enforcement. Given the ambiguity surrounding the rules, it’s probably safest to stick to purchasing CBD isolate or broad-spectrum products, and avoid full-spectrum CBD that also contains THC. The sale of CBD flowers and buds is, however, clearly prohibited in the UK.

Different CBD products fall under the rules of different British governing bodies. CBD products that are ingested as food (including tinctures, edibles, capsules and gummies) must complete a Novel Food Application as they are considered foods and subject to the laws of the Food Standards Agency. CBD that is used for medicinal purposes requires a licence from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency. CBD topicals and cosmetics are subject to a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CPSR). CBD vape products must comply with non-nicotine e-liquid regulation laid out in the General Products Safety Directive.

All CBD products must have labels free of medical claims, clearly state the CBD content and manufacturer details, and provide a complete list of the ingredients on the pack.

CBD brands that ship to the UK

UK buyers can choose from a wide selection of CBD products from both Europe and North America. If you’re unfamiliar with any of these brands and want to find out more or access independent reviews, take a look at our brand search tool.

Where can I purchase CBD in the UK?

Despite the legal ambiguity that clouds the retail of CBD in the UK, a diverse range of shops carry CBD products. Larger metropolises such as London, Manchester and Birmingham also have specialist CBD stores where you can receive support and guidance from assistants. London has a staggering selection of CBD storefronts. Some of the most renowned names include True CBD and Hemp Centre, London CBD Dispensary, and CBD Oil London. If you’re in Manchester, you can check out Inspired Life CBD, and in Birmingham, Your CBD Store has excellent customer reviews.

Many benefits can be reaped from shopping for CBD in person. Knowledgeable staff are on hand who can answer questions, and there’s access to a diverse selection of CBD brands and products in many delivery formats.

However, online shopping also offers unique advantages. If perusing CBD products in person feels a little intimidating, online shopping allows you to buy CBD from the privacy of your own home. CBD products that retail online are often more competitively priced than physical storefronts that have overhead costs.

Regardless of whether you choose to purchase products in store or online, it’s critical to assess the safety and quality of products before you buy. Check that the product has been third-party tested for purity and potency, and the corresponding certificates of analysis match with the batch number on the product label. Sometimes labels have a QR code that helpfully takes you direct to the certificates. Knowing how to read a certificate of analysis is also critical: if you’re unsure, take a look at our video guide that demystifies the process.

Other issues to look out for are the provenance of the CBD. Organic CBD (that’s preferably certified organic by the USDA or another legitimate body) is preferable as you’re assured that it has been grown in a healthy, toxin-free medium. Hemp is a phyto-remedial plant that siphons contaminants from the soil, so opting for organic if possible means it will most likely be free of pesticides, heavy metals, or chemical residue.

Lastly, check out Leafreport’s brand search tool, where you can access extensive independent reviews about diverse CBD brands to help guide you in your choice.

Summary

UK legislation regarding CBD can be confusing. It’s advisable to err on the side of caution until the UK government clarifies its stance regarding THC (and minor cannabinoid) levels in CBD products. Opt for CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD free of THC content. Avoid buying dried hemp flowers or buds as they are illegal. If you’re looking for guidance with choosing a product, you can shop at one of the UK’s many specialized CBD storefronts.

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Dr. Emma F. Stone is passionate about plant medicine and the potential it holds in transforming the current medical paradigm. She has written extensively for Leafly, Weedmaps, Flowertown, Psychedelic Science Review, and contributed to industry reports and fact sheets detailing cannabis medicine, dosage, and delivery methods for diverse conditions. She’s currently working on a book exploring plant medicine and its uses.

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