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In this context, Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 for cosmetics bans the use of CBD derived from resin, tinctures and extracts of Cannabis, as well as cannabinoids, resin and various extracts (e.g. Cannabis Sativa flower extract, Cannabis Sativa flower/leaf/stem extract) from cosmetic use (Annex II). Synthetically produced CBD is acceptable for end use.

How is hemp used in cosmetics and what are its properties?
There are several types of extract from hemp used in cosmetics:

What is the difference between hemp, CBD and marijuana?
The Cannabis plant contains over 80 biologically active chemical compounds (cannabinoids). However, the most known ones are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Different taxonomic classifications of the genus Cannabis vary in their THC and CBD content. For example, Cannabis indica originally from India contains a high THC content associated with marijuana hashish production, whereas Cannabis sativa L. from Europe and western Eurasia has a high CBD content, traditionally associated with the textile industry, and more recently to applications within the cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical sectors. Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effects.

Can cannabidiol (CBD) be used in cosmetics?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a type of cannabinoid that can be synthetically produced or isolated from Cannabis plants and used as a single ingredient. In cosmetics, CBD can function as an antioxidant and facilitate anti-aging properties.

How does regulation work outside the EU?
In the USA, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not prohibit or restrict the use of cannabis or cannabis-derived ingredients in cosmetics, and considers the possibility that a product containing these substances can have both a cosmetic and a drug use (for instance, creams to treat dermatitis or acne). Unlike in the USA, however, no therapeutic or medical claim should be asserted for cosmetics in Europe. This applies as well to products containing permitted cosmetic raw materials extracted from Cannabis sativa.

Specific European and national legislation as well as international conventions apply to establish which type of extracts and derivates of the Cannabis sativa L. plant may be used in products, including food and cosmetics. Keep reading to find out more about hemp, an incresingly popular ingredient in cosmetics, and the differences in the extracts and derivates of the Cannabis sativa L. plant.

To this date, cosmetic regulatory compliance of CBD as an ingredient itself relies on the part of the plant from which it is extracted. For instance, seeds when not accompanied by tops are acceptable, although these do not contain CBD, whereas CBD prepared from Cannabis extracts or tinctures from flower/fruiting tops where the resin has not been separated, as well as the separated resin, are not allowed for use. Indeed, the UN 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs defines controlled cannabis as “the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant”, but does not consider Cannabis sativa seeds or leaves as controlled substances (as long as they are not accompanied by the tops).

Medical marijuana

According to current UK drug laws, cannabis is classified as an illegal drug because of the psychoactive properties of THC, the component in it that creates the “high”. And under UK law, cannabis is deemed to have a high potential for abuse – with no accepted medical properties.

Billy had flown with his mother to Canada to buy the CBD oil – which helps to keep his daily epileptic seizures at bay. But his oil was confiscated because it was made from cannabis flowers and leaves, and so was classed as illegal in the UK, pushing childhood epilepsy and CBD oil into the spotlight.

But this is where it gets even more confusing because cannabis can be bred to create different strains. Cannabis consumed for recreational purposes is selectively bred to optimise high THC content strains – to maximise the “high” feeling. But cannabis also contains CBD, which is a non-psychoactive component.

In Billy Caldwell’s case, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, made the decision to grant Billy access to imported CBD oil. This fresh approach to reconsider the classification of cannabis has been seminal, and mirrors wider sentiment in other countries. In the US, for example, medical cannabis programmes have been initiated in 30 states. Hence, medical tourism to Canada – where cannabis is legal for medicinal purposes – and the US to gain access to CBD oil.

But despite CBD oil’s high profile status, there’s still a lot of confusion about what it actually is, and what it’s made from. Certain types of CBD oil are already legally available in the UK – such as those made from hemp – whereas other types are very much illegal in the UK – though are available to buy in other countries

Cannabis is classified as hemp if it has a maximum level of 0.2% THC. Billy’s CBD oil, confiscated at Heathrow, was made from cannabis with a higher level than 0.2% of THC – so it was classed as cannabis, which is why it was confiscated.