Delta-8 THC is an analog of the much-loved delta-9-THC, making them very similar compounds. As a psychoactive compound, it’s easy to assume that it is outlawed alongside marijuana. However, the delta-8 THC UK law is actually a lot more complicated.
After all, non-psychoactive products like CBD are generally accepted when derived from hemp.
This guide covers everything you need to know about delta-8 in the UK, including what it is, what products are available, and whether it is legal. So keep reading to learn everything there is to know about delta-8 in the UK.
Delta-8 THC UK: Products and Legality
Delta-8-THC is yet another cannabinoid to reach popular status around the world. CBD was one of the first big hits, taking over from marijuana as the trendy way to consume cannabis. But unlike marijuana, CBD products do not cause a high.
Delta-8-THC has now entered the arena as a sort of midpoint product. It is less intoxicating than the delta-9 THC found in marijuana, but it still causes a high, differentiating it from CBD. As a result, delta-8 THC has found popularity as a compound that can provide gentle mental stimulation without the mega high of smoking marijuana.
The result is that there is a considerable market for delta-8 THC products, most of which are similar to the CBD products many are familiar with already.
Here are some of the products you will typically see:
- Hemp flower high in THC
Sadly, these products are not available legally in the UK due to legislation surrounding tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In order to understand this ruling, it’s necessary to learn more about the Cannabis sativa plant in general. Read the following sections to understand the differences between delta-8 and delta-9 THC and why they are both illegal.
What Is Delta-9 THC and What Is the UK Legislation?
Delta-9 THC is the compound most people think of when they hear of THC. Its full name is tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the primary compound in marijuana that causes a high. As a result, it is well-researched.
When people consume marijuana, THC interacts with an inbuilt network of receptors called the endocannabinoid system. As a result, it may overstimulate some receptors in the brain and central nervous system, causing the classic marijuana high.
In the UK, cannabis – at least in its marijuana form – is illegal to grow, possess, distribute, or sell. It is a Class B drug, which entails up to 14 years in prison for unlicensed distribution. From 2004-2009, Gordon Brown’s government briefly changed marijuana to a Class C drug with more lenient sentencing. However, now it has been re-classified as Class B. Notably, the government went against the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs recommendation to make this ruling.
The illegality of cannabis stems from its intoxicating potential. Although it has a pretty severe Class B classification, cannabis’s illegal status is rarely enforced. Several police forces, including Country Durham, Derbyshire, Dorset, and Surrey, have stated that they are no longer pursuing marijuana-related offenses unless the offenders are being “blatant.” This is in response to budget cuts that require police forces to prioritize. Thus, it seems that marijuana, though illegal, is not a priority for UK law enforcement.
In 2018, the UK government also legalized medical cannabis. In a very limited number of cases, patients can apply for a home office license that allows them to import medicinal cannabis in the form of tinctures. Just over 200 prescriptions have been issued to date.
Despite acknowledging that delta-9-THC has some benefits and that it is not severe enough to penalize, delta-9-THC and marijuana remain illegal in the UK.
What About Delta-8 THC?
Delta-8-THC’s legality remains in a gray area in the UK. However, its similarity to D9, which is on the controlled substance list, means that most people expect it to be largely prohibited. Both compounds are considered to be the same thing, even though there are minor differences.
The two compounds differ by the placement of just one double bond, but apart from that, their chemical structure is the same.
This minute change makes all the difference, however. While delta-9 causes an intense high that could cause short-term memory loss, delayed reactions, couch-lock, and more, delta-8 is quite different.
The delta-8 high is less pronounced than that of delta-9. It is still noticeable and intoxicating but less intense. Users say that they feel uplifted, euphoric, and hungry. However, delta-8 does not create the same intensity as delta-9, and many consumers can continue with their day despite the uplift.
Although it has fewer intoxicating effects than D9, delta-8 is still not permitted in the UK.
Delta-8 THC and the UK
Delta-8 has found enormous popularity in the USA, where CBD brands are branching out into the sale of this new cannabinoid. So, why is it illegal?
Just like in the US, hemp and marijuana plants are separated in UK law. The Home Office provides licenses for cultivating industrial hemp, defined as cannabis plants with less than 0.2% THC levels. Conversely, the American Farm Bill defines hemp as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC.
That said, cultivators can only use the stalk, fiber, and seeds of the hemp plants. While CBD products can be found throughout the UK, they must be derived from hemp imported from EU countries.
Notably, many delta-8 THC products are created by creating a synthetic form of D8 derived from CBD. However, research into delta-8 THC is limited at best, even for the synthetic versions of this compound. In fact, its artificial nature is what has led several US states to ban delta-8 THC, despite no mention of it in federal law.
Technically, there is no mention of delta-8 THC in the UK’s drug licensing factsheet. This also means that it is not stated as an exempt product in the way that CBD is. However, given that delta-8 gives a psychoactive effect, it’s safe to assume that this cannabinoid is not permitted in the UK.
Final Thoughts About Delta 8 THC UK
Delta-8 THC in the UK is a complicated matter. It occupies somewhat of a gray area since there is no explicit mention of it in the drug licensing factsheet. However, since the cannabis plant itself is illegal, and there are strict regulations on hemp and marijuana, it may be restricted in the future.
For now, CBD products with small amounts (less than 0.2%) of THC are currently allowed. While CBD companies in the UK are rife, it’s challenging to come across delta-8 products. And those that are sold tend to be pretty low quality, considering the lack of knowledge and regulation surrounding D8.
Things may change in the future, but as it stands, it’s best to avoid delta-8 in the UK.