Published: 18 April 2019

Cannabis, Cannabis Extracts and CBD in Cosmetic Products

CTPA regularly receives queries on the use in cosmetic products of cannabis and cannabis extracts, including cannabidiol (CBD).

Regulatory context

Via entry 306 of Annex II to the EU Cosmetics Regulation, 'Cannabis and Cannabis Resin - and extracts and tinctures of cannabis' are prohibited from use in cosmetic products and are listed in Tables I and II of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs signed in 1961.

Additionally, in the UK, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 also apply to some substances and products.

Under both regulatory frameworks, 'cannabis' means any plant of the genus cannabis, e.g. Cannabis Indica, Cannabis Sativa.  Varieties commonly known as 'hemp' are also included.

Use in cosmetics

It may be possible for some cannabis ingredients and extracts to be used legally in cosmetics in the UK, providing specific criteria and exemptions are met.  Key considerations regarding use include:

  • the ingredient must not contain any controlled substances, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC); and
  • the ingredient must not be sourced from the flowering or fruiting top of the plant (or the whole plant where the flowering or fruiting top remains intact for processing - including 'hemp' varieties);

Note: Sourcing extracts from hemp varieties is not an automatic guarantee of legal compliance.

Following consultation with the Home Office and BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) CTPA has produced a position paper containing further information and advice.

Only products meeting the definition of a cosmetic may be regulated by the Cosmetics Regulation. If a product is not a cosmetic, it may fall under another regulatory regime such as that for foods, medicines or general product safety. Care must be taken to ensure that a cosmetic does not become a medicine by virtue of its presentation, its claims or its composition.  Guidance entitled 'A Guide to what is a Medicinal Product' is available from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (See Appendix 10 on CBD products).

European Commission CosIng Database

The cannabis and cannabis extracts entries in the CosIng database have recently been amended by the European Commission following discussions with Member States.

It should be noted that CosIng is not an official source for the regulatory status of ingredients.  Companies should refer to the Cosmetics Regulation and annexes to confirm whether an ingredient may be used in the EU and UK.

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