UK to legalize CBD-based products as medicine

The United Kingdom’s top medical products regulatory authority has ruled that CBD and products containing the cannabis compound will now be treated as medicine.

The announcement, however, doesn’t mean consumers will suddenly be able to buy CBD-infused products. Medicine makers will have to prove their CBD products meet safety, quality and effectiveness standards, the BBC reported Tuesday.

It also means anyone caught selling or advertising CBD products in the U.K. without a license from the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) could face an unlimited fine and up to two years in prison, the BBC said.

The MHRA has informed 18 companies in writing they have 28 days to obtain a license to sell CBD products in the United Kingdom.

There is already one federally legal CBD-based product in the United Kingdom – Sativex, an anti-muscle spasm drug for multiple sclerosis patients that is made by GW Pharmaceuticals. The Cambridge, England-based company also has an anti-seizure medicine, Epidiolex, that has cleared almost all of the regulatory hurdles in the United States and could be on the U.S. market by 2018.