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does cbd oil require a prescription

Do You Need a Prescription to Buy CBD Oil?

With all the discussion of CBD oil in the media these days, you may be asking yourself if you need a prescription to buy CBD oil. CBD oil is certainly becoming a hot topic, with even mainstream news and media outlets discussing this viable option for the treatment of a wide variety of health issues and complaints. Here we will answer some important questions about the types of CBD oils available, the different ways they can be utilized, and how to choose the right product for your specific needs.

Are All CBD Oils The Same?

As you begin to explore the interesting world of CBD, you may be shocked to discover that there is a large variety of types, companies, and potencies of products available and it can be quite overwhelming to someone looking into buying CBD oil. Not all CBD oil products are the same and not all companies are trustworthy. Determining what you’re using the product for, the manner in which you want to ingest or apply it, and the ethics and standards of the company are all important factors in determining how to buy CBD oil.

Methods of Using CBD Oil and the Benefits of Each

Experiencing the beneficial effects of CBD oil is possible in a variety of different ways. Overall, the four main methods that CBD oil products are used is ingestion, sublingual use, topical application, and inhalation. More details can be learned about the various methods of usage at

Oral ingestion of CBD oil is probably the most common way in which it is used. In this manner of usage, the oil is measured out according to the best dosage for the individual in question and taken just as any other liquid medication would be. The CBD oil travels through the digestive system and is processed by the liver, which then sends the various compounds through the body via the bloodstream. Sublingual usage is similar, but rather than being swallowed, the CBD product is held under the tongue for a specified amount of time. The areas under the tongue and the floor of the oral cavity are extremely absorbent and allow the beneficial compounds within the product to be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream where they can be utilized by the body. Effects may be felt much faster with the sublingual method of delivery due to the fact that it bypasses the digestive system entirely and goes straight into the bloodstream.

Topical usage is possible with certain formulations of CBD oil products. Many new products on the market include creams and lotions designed to be applied directly to the skin. The skin is our largest organ and everything applied to it topically makes its way into our bodies and ultimately into our bloodstream to be used by the body as a whole, making topical usage an excellent choice for those with poor digestive systems or skin issues they need help with.

Lastly, inhalation is still a possible option for CBD usage as well. In this instance, a vaporizer is used to heat the product and the vapors are then breathed in by the consumer. This is the fastest way to feel the effects of the product being used, as it allows for direct delivery to the lungs which then transports it throughout the body, eliminating the extra steps involved in some of the other methods of delivery.

How to Choose the Right Product For You

As we alluded to before, with so many products and companies now making CBD products, it can seem like a daunting task to find the right one. How do you find the right product suited for your needs and do you need a CBD oil prescription? Below we will discuss the four most important factors in choosing a company and product to ensure your best results are achieved.


CBD products can vary greatly in their potency and the percentage of CBD they actually contain. Depending on the health issue you are treating, you may need a lower or higher potency to have the desired effect and to experience a reduction in your symptoms. Trial and error may be necessary, and if you don’t experience the desired results, you can always try a product with a higher potency.


As with anything else we take into our bodies, you will want to be sure that the CBD oil products you choose are pure. Various companies have different policies in place regarding the way that their products are manufactured and the steps they take to ensure that highest standards of purity are maintained. Look into the credentials and background of the company you are considering buying your CBD oil products from or ask them directly about their quality and purity standards.


This is closely related to purity, and is referring to how open a company will be with you regarding their manufacturing and purity standards. A reputable company should be willing to offer detailed answers to any questions you may have about their products, how they are made, and the steps they take to ensure that their quality is consistent. If a company offers very vague answers or seems to act like they don’t even know the answer to your questions, it may be best to take your business elsewhere.


Of course, price will always be a determining factor in the CBD products you choose to use. Many options in all price ranges are available, so determining what you can afford while still obtaining a high quality product is important. That said, high quality options are available to suit all types of budgets.

No prescription or doctor is needed for the purchase of CBD oil since these products do not contain THC like cannabis does. Therefore, the average consumer can purchase these CBD products from a wide variety of stores and online venues, making experiencing the health benefits of CBD oil easier than ever before with no prescription necessary.

We understand that the process of finding a reputable company and the appropriate CBD oil product best suited for your needs can seem daunting at times. We gathered this information to make that process easier and we hope that this answered your question, “Do you need a prescription to buy CBD oil?”

Do You Need a Prescription to Buy CBD Oil? With all the discussion of CBD oil in the media these days, you may be asking yourself if you need a prescription to buy CBD oil. CBD oil is certainly

Medical cannabis (and cannabis oils)

“Medical cannabis” is a broad term for any sort of cannabis-based medicine used to relieve symptoms.

Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal and potentially dangerous.

Some products that might claim to be medical cannabis, such as “CBD oil” or hemp oil, are available to buy legally as food supplements from health stores. But there’s no guarantee these are of good quality or provide any health benefits.

And some cannabis-based products are available on prescription as medicinal cannabis. These are only likely to benefit a very small number of patients.

Can I get a prescription for medical cannabis?

Very few people in England are likely to get a prescription for medical cannabis.

Currently, it is only likely to be prescribed for the following conditions:

  • children and adults with rare, severe forms of epilepsy
  • adults with vomiting or nausea caused by chemotherapy
  • people with muscle stiffness and spasms caused by multiple sclerosis (MS)

It would only be considered when other treatments were not suitable or had not helped.

Epidyolex for children and adults with epilepsy

Epidyolex is a highly purified liquid containing CBD (cannabidiol).

CBD is a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits.

It will not get you high, because it does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.

Epidyolex can be prescribed for patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome (both rare forms of epilepsy).

Nabilone for chemotherapy patients

Many people having chemotherapy will have periods where they feel sick or vomit.

Nabilone can be prescribed by a specialist to help relieve these symptoms, but only when other treatments have not helped or are not suitable.

Nabilone is a medicine, taken as a capsule, that has been developed to act in a similar way to THC (the chemical in cannabis that makes you high). You may have heard it described as a “manmade form of cannabis”.

Nabiximols (Sativex) for MS

Nabiximols (Sativex) is a cannabis-based medicine that is sprayed into the mouth.

It is licensed in the UK for people with MS-related muscle spasticity that has not got better with other treatments.

Long-term pain

There is some evidence medical cannabis can help certain types of pain, though this evidence is not yet strong enough to recommend it for pain relief.

What about products available to buy?

Some cannabis-based products are available to buy over the internet without a prescription.

It’s likely most of these products – even those called “CBD oils” – will be illegal to possess or supply. There’s a good chance they will contain THC, and may not be safe to use.

Health stores sell certain types of “pure CBD”. However, there’s no guarantee these products will be of good quality.

They tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD, so it’s not clear what effect they would have.

Is medical cannabis safe?

The risks of using cannabis products containing THC (the chemical that gets you high) are not currently clear. That’s why clinical trials are needed before they can be used.

“Pure” products that only contain CBD, such as Epidyolex, do not carry these unknown risks linked with THC.

But in reality, most products will contain a certain amount of THC.

The main risks of THC cannabis products are:

  • psychosis – there is evidence that regular cannabis use increases your risk of developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia
  • dependency on the medicine – although scientists believe this risk is probably small when its use is controlled and monitored by a specialist doctor

Generally, the more THC the product contains, the greater these risks are.

Cannabis bought illegally off the street, where the quality, ingredients and strength are not known, is the most dangerous form to use.

What are the side effects?

After taking medical cannabis, it’s possible to develop any of the following side effects:

  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick
  • greater weakness
  • a behavioural or mood change
  • dizziness
  • feeling very tired
  • feeling high
  • hallucinations
  • suicidal thoughts

If you experience any side effects from medical cannabis, report these to your medical team. You can also report them through the Yellow Card Scheme.

CBD and THC can affect how other medicines work. Always discuss possible interactions with a specialist.

CBD can also affect how your liver works, so doctors would need to monitor you regularly.

How do I get a prescription?

You cannot get cannabis-based medicine from a GP – it can only be prescribed by a specialist hospital doctor.

And it is only likely to be prescribed for a small number of patients.

A hospital specialist might consider prescribing medical cannabis if:

  • your child has one of the rare forms of epilepsy that might be helped by medical cannabis
  • you have spasticity from MS and treatments for this are not helping
  • you have vomiting or feel sick from chemotherapy and anti-sickness treatments are not helping

The specialist will discuss with you all the other treatment options first, before considering a cannabis-based product.

A prescription for medical cannabis would only be given when it was believed to be in your best interests, and when other treatments had not worked or were not suitable.

It’s expected this would only apply to a very small number of people in England.

If the above does not apply to you, do not ask a GP for a referral for medical cannabis.

Will the laws on cannabis be relaxed?

The government has no intention of legalising the use of cannabis for recreational (non-medical) use.

Possessing cannabis is illegal, whatever you’re using it for. That includes medical use unless it has been prescribed for you.

More information

Page last reviewed: 01 November 2018
Next review due: 01 November 2021

Information from the NHS website on medical cannabis