It can be difficult to understand the restrictions around CBD, as it seems that CBD oil is widely available, but not all CBD products are legal. And why would CBD products be available for humans, but not for pets?

To get a better understanding, we need to look at the restrictions set out by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the guidelines that have been issued by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

Is CBD Bud/Flower Legal In The UK?

A quick search online about whether CBD flower/bud is legal in the UK will lead you to think that it is legal when, in fact, it is not. Many CBD sellers in the UK seem to be confused about this and have written extensively about the benefits of CBD flower as well as offering it for sale. But what does the law say?

CBD is extracted from Industrial hemp, which falls under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. But, importantly, there are parts of the plant that are not controlled once they have been separated from the plant. The parts are the stems, stalk, and seeds of the mature hemp plant. For the rest, the plant is classified as cannabis and therefore is a Class B drug. This applies to all forms of cannabis, whether you’re looking at hemp or marijuana.

From this information, we can see that the flower or bud, irrespective of the level of THC present, is illegal in the UK. Therefore, CBD products that contain parts of the hemp plant aside from the stem, seeds, and stalk (including flowers and buds) cannot be sold in the UK.

The confusion arises because we tend to focus on the THC level, which is set at a maximum of 0.2%. But actually, the restrictions set out by the MoDA states all parts of the industrial hemp plant are restricted for use because they are classified as cannabis with the exception of the stems, stalk, and seeds (once they have been separated from the plant).

Note that this ruling is different to the rest of the EU where the use of hemp flowers in CBD products is permitted.

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Are Cannabis and Hemp Seeds Legal in the UK?

It is legal to buy and sell both hemp and cannabis seeds in the UK. For hemp seeds, they cannot be cultivated without a license. For cannabis seeds, it’s a bit more complicated. It’s legal to own, buy, sell and trade cannabis seeds. And end consumers can purchase seeds from a licensed shop. But end users may not germinate seeds, and it is illegal to grow marijuana or use cannabis.

The implication for businesses that sell the seeds is that you need to inform customers the seeds can only be used in different tasks that are not related to the growth of cannabis.

Can You Sell CBD Oil Directly Aimed At Pets?

Recently, a decision was taken by the VMD that CBD products for pets should be classified as veterinary medicine and therefore are required to be regulated. This means that in order to sell CBD products for pets, the company needs to have a marketing authorisation and currently, there are no products containing CBD that have UK veterinary marketing authorisation.

For veterinary surgeons, there is still the option to prescribe CBD for pets. As there are no CBD products available for veterinary use in the UK, the surgeon may prescribe a human CBD product. These CBD products that are stipulated for human use must not indicate, or in any way recommend, that the products be used on animals.

In summary, under the guidelines that have been set out by the VMD, it is not legal to buy or dispense CBD for pets without a prescription from a vet. And CBD companies may not sell or market their products for pets without the relevant license.

Why It’s Difficult to Find a Payment Processor if Your Sell CBD Flower, Cannabis and Hemp seeds or CBD for Pets

It happens often that CBD sellers struggle to find a payment processor that will allow them to sell products online. This is particularly true for businesses who sell products that contain CBD flower or are marketed towards pets. Even cannabis and hemp seed sellers, who are legally licensed to do so, struggle to get their applications approved.

For illegal products, payment processors are unlikely to approve accounts for businesses selling CBD Flower or for Pets. This is because it is currently against the law to do so. This is a high risk industry and they must abide by these laws. In addition, if a CBD seller sells CBD flower or CBD for pets, they will not be able to become a member of either the CTA or the EIHA. Membership with these organisation makes it easier to find a payment processor making it possible to accept payments for an online business.

But what about businesses that legally sell cannabis and hemp seeds? Most online and brick and mortar shops comply with follow the regulations and have the relevant licenses in place. But, due to a lack of understanding as well as the associated risks, most payment providers still turn down applications from businesses that sell seeds, even though it is legal.

While there may be other reasons, the primary reason that sellers are having their applications rejected seems to be because payment providers want to ensure that they don’t take on high-risk clients. Selling cannabis seeds is more risky as businesses have to be able to prove that they have educated their clients about the legal uses of cannabis seeds.

Key Facts

  •  It is not legal to sell CBD flower or CBD bud in the UK
  •  It is not legal to sell CBD products for pets in the UK
  •  It will be difficult to sign up with a payment processor if your business does not comply with UK regulations
  •  It is legal to sell cannabis and hemp seeds, but businesses who do so may still struggle to find a payment processor

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