Reading time - 9 minutes - April 13, 2023
When CBD first launched onto the mainstream market, its use and effects were shrouded in mystery and even controversy. Obviously, the negative connotations associated with illegal and intoxicating cannabis use were to blame for this state of affairs; however, today, we understand a lot more about CBD and its health and wellness potential. Yet, doubt persists among significant portions of the population regarding not only the substance’s legality, but also its religious implications.
If you thought it was difficult to understand where CBD stood from simply a legal standpoint, assessing its place in religious practice is another kettle of fish entirely. Its origin from the cannabis plant – a drug that is strictly prohibited, or “haram”, in Islamic faith – places a huge question mark over the legitimacy of CBD use among Muslims. So, you may be wondering: Is CBD Halal?
Let’s start off by clarifying the meanings of “Halal” and “Haram”. In the Islamic faith, intoxicating and impure substances are forbidden. “Haram” is the name given to these prohibited substances. Some examples of Haram substances include alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. But Haram isn’t only used to refer to intoxicating substances – it also describes foods and other consumables that can cause harm to the body, such as carcinogens or ingredients that cannot be effectively digested and absorbed.
Given the generally considered Haram nature of cannabis, it is understandable that some Muslims may be concerned that CBD is Haram and so should not be consumed in any form. But is that really the case?
In contrast to Haram, “Halal” – the Arabic word for “permissible” – is used to refer to products that are permitted according to the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. For example, meat can only be considered Halal if the animal was slaughtered in a specific way. But Halal can refer to any kind of product, including other food products and other types of consumables. So, what about CBD? Does the cannabinoid’s association and derivation from cannabis mean that it cannot be considered Halal?
CBD – or cannabidiol – is one of over 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant. These compounds, known as cannabinoids, can have varying effects on consumers through their interaction with an internal receptor system found within our bodies. Many cannabinoids are similar in structure to endogenous – or “endo” – cannabinoids produced inside our own bodies, allowing them to interact with several receptors. Together, this system is known as the Endocannabinoid System.
The ECS has been found to play a significant role in a number of important physiological and cognitive functions, including mood regulation and pain signalling. Through their interactions with the endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, including CBD, can influence these processes in a number of ways.
While some cannabinoids – most famously THC – can cause intoxication or a “high” through their interactions with endocannabinoid and other receptors in our bodies, a large number of them are not associated with any intoxicating effects at all. CBD is one of these non-intoxicating cannabis compounds.
In recent years, the potential therapeutic and wellness benefits of CBD have seen this common cannabinoid explode in popularity all over the world. CBD products such as CBD Edibles, CBD Tinctures, as well as CBD Topicals and e-liquids, can now be found online as well as in brick-and-mortar stores such as wellness shops, pharmacies, and even supermarkets! People from all walks of life are now discovering the benefits of this cannabinoid, but the question remains: Is CBD Halal?
As we have mentioned, cannabis use is generally considered Haram throughout Islamic belief; however, as is noted in a 2018 study regarding the religious status of cannabis in Islamic countries, “references to hashish, cannabis, and other hemp derivatives are absent from the sacred text.”
There may be something of a grey area when considering the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis, as Allameh Helli, a leading scholar of 1250–1325, is reported to have said: “for the poison that derives from the herbs [hashish-ha] and the plants, if it has benefits [manfe’at], its sale and trade is not an issue. If it does not have benefits, then it is not permitted.”
Nonetheless, the ability of cannabis to intoxicate the user is considered argument enough for its inclusion in Haram products. As another prominent scholar, Helli, explains: “What is known among the people is that hashish is intoxicant, so eating it is prohibited not because it is harmful to the body but because intoxicates…”
So, if that is the case, then what about the non-intoxicating CBD? Are cannabis derivatives of cannabis Halal if they themselves are not harmful or intoxicating?
Various sources conclude that, due to its non-intoxicating properties, CBD cannot be considered Haram on the same basis as cannabis. However, it is also noted that many CBD products available on the market today may also contain traces of THC and other potentially intoxicating derivatives of cannabis. While this may appear to throw a spanner in the works, the question of whether this may affect CBD’s Halal status is a little more complicated.
As we touched upon earlier, products that cannot be absorbed by the body in addition to those which cause intoxication are considered Halal in the Islamic faith. However, in the vast majority of CBD products available in the UK and in most other countries around the world, THC levels (where relevant) are extremely low. So low, in fact, that it would be impossible to become intoxicated through use of these products. Furthermore, such trace levels of THC are easily absorbed by the body and are usually undetectable.
If you would prefer to avoid THC altogether, there is an abundance of CBD products that have been developed to be free from THC. Broad-spectrum CBD products contain a range of cannabinoids and other cannabis derivatives such as terpenes and flavonoids, but the THC has been filtered out (though some extremely small trace amounts may remain). CBD Isolates remove all other cannabis derivatives altogether, including THC. Many CBD products are produced using hemp seed oil as a natural carrier oil; however, alternatives such as coconut or olive oil can also be found.
What’s more, CBD’s reputation as a safe product that will not harm the user also recommends its permissibility in the Islamic faith. As the World Health Organisation ruled in 2017, “cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm.” So, based on these findings, CBD extracts – particularly those in their purest form (isolates) – should be considered to be Halal.
However, there are a number of other factors which may affect the permissibility of individual CBD products.
As is the case with all consumable products, not all iterations of CBD products are created in exactly the same way. While it is possible to purchase CBD isolate products (those that contain CBD in its purest forms with other compounds filtered out), some products may contain undesirable additives. Some CBD products such as gummies and beverages, may contain ingredients that are Haram.
For example, many gummy sweets are made using gelatine which is derived from pigs. This is forbidden in the Islamic faith and so these products would be considered Haram. However, many products today make use of Halal alternatives such as bovine gelatine (gelatine derived from cows) or vegan substitutes. Take a look at our recent blog post: ‘How Much CBD Edible Should I Take?’ for more information on CBD gummies and other edible products.
The number one tips for ensuring your chosen CBD products are Halal is buying from a trusted retailer. This will give you the peace of mind that the label on the product reflects what is actually inside the product. Take a look at customer reviews and any information available on the website of any CBD brand before committing to your purchase.
The best CBD brands in the UK will ensure their customers are able to access third-party lab tests for each of their products. These analyses allow you to see exactly what is in any given product, including levels of THC and other minor cannabinoids. These tests can also identify other potentially harmful ingredients. In the UK, the legal limit of THC is 1 mg per container – a non-intoxicating dose.
To be sure that your chosen CBD product does not contain any animal products that may be considered Haram (especially recommended if purchasing CBD gummies), always opt for vegan CBD products. These will often feature a Vegan certification or may highlight this feature on the packaging. Always check the ingredients if you are unsure whether a product is vegan.
Today, many authoritative sources on Haram and Halal laws tend to recommend CBD – in its purest form and with no more than trace amounts of THC – as Halal. However, the fact is that this may simply come down to personal choice and your own perception of the findings presented here and in other available sources.
If you decide that CBD is for you, be sure to follow the steps laid out above to ensure you receive the highest quality Halal CBD product. The most important thing to consider when purchasing CBD is that not all products are created equal. Applying caution and only purchasing from trusted retailers is key when choosing the right product for you.
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