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“We will not give up” – calls for clarity after Irish CBD shop raids

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Little Collins CBD Dispensary in Galway, Ireland

Irish authorities are facing a backlash over a regulatory “grey area”, following police raids on a family-run CBD shop.

The owners of a vegan CBD cafe, with premises in Galway and Kilkenny, say their business has been raided by Garda three times in the last two years.

On Thursday 4 February, officers are said to have entered the Kilkenny site of Little Collins CBD Dispensary, following complaints to a local radio station from residents about the “cafe which smells like cannabis”.

Staff at Little Collins, which sells CBD oil and hemp flower products as herbal remedies, teas, oils, ointments and butter, were advised that their products which contain less than 0.2 percent of THC is against the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. 

Business owner JP O’Brien says he has now been told he will be closed down if he continues to trade. 

Mr O’Brien currently has a case for judicial review pending in the high court, following charges brought against him last year.

The Irish Times reported that in August 2020 Garda contacted Mr O’Brien informing him they were instructed to charge him with four offences under the 1977 Act. 

Little Collins co-founders, JP and Ide O’Brian

The charges related to him being found in possession of “hemp trim” and CBD products.

However in December 2020, following the outcome of the high profile KanaVape case – in which theEuropean Court of Justice (CJEU)  uled that CBD could not be classed as narcotic – Mr O’Brien launched a high court challenge arguing his prosecution, arising from selling certain hemp products is invalid under the Constitution and EU law.

Mr O’Brien, and his wife Ide, opened Little Collins in November 2018, after returning to her country from Australia.

He says he wrote to law enforcement in Galway in relation to the products before opening and was not advised of any concerns. 

He sought additional reassurances from Garda before opening his Kilkenny store six months ago and was again assured that as long as the products did not contain more than 0.2 percent THC there would be no issue. 

The couple say their Galway store and family home were first targeted in 2019, and in May 2020 searches are said to have been carried out at the homes of two of their customers.

The authorities have now faced a backlash from industry bodies and leading campaigners, who say CBD which contains any amount of THC is being treated as a narcotic in Ireland, despite the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 being silent on whether concentrations of 0.2 percent are controlled substances. 

Chris Allen, of Hemp Federation Ireland, told Cannabis Health that industry advice from Irish authorities that EU regulatory adjustments only relate to synthetic and isolated cannabidiol products was “incompatible with central EU administrative procedures”. 

According the Allen, the EU Commission’s written advice, public statements, as well as administrative adjustments under EU food law and cosmetics regulations, following the KanaVape case, reflect the fact that the EU does not consider hemp as a drug and does not regulate it as a controlled substance under the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

“Ireland’s views were sought and included in the process of reaching a unified EU position in advance of the UN vote on changes to the UN Single Convention in December. The EU voted not to include cannabidiol with 0.2 percent THC within the list of controlled substances,” she said.

“Ireland’s current position is profoundly incoherent, which is why the situation we find ourselves in does not exist in any other EU Member State.”

Ms Allen continued: “Little Collins CBD dispensary is a family run business. JP and Ide provide quality cannabidiol products to people in Galway and Kilkenny via their beautiful vegan coffee shops, all of which are double lab certified and their customers are at the centre of everything they do.

“The situation they now find themselves at the centre of now is really very distressing and completely unnecessary. It stems from a very poor understanding among regulators in Ireland about the hemp industry generally and especially cannabidiol and food products.”

A number of other CBD and hemp businesses in Ireland have had similar experiences to Mr O’Brien, many of which have now stopped trading due to fear of prosecution. 

“Lots of Irish businesses in Ireland suffer similar treatment,” added Ms Allen.

“The Irish hemp industry is one of the oldest in the EU. Many Irish farms and businesses have been operating for more than 20 years and enjoyed uninterrupted trade in hemp products, including hemp foods, prior to 2018. 

“The psychological impact of the actions of Irish authorities on people has increased as the sense of injustice people feel grows more acute.”

Mr O’Brien, who is being represented by high profile barrister, Micheál P. O Higgins SC says he has been advised by his legal team that an injunction would likely be unsuccessful due to the “grey area” in regulation. 

But he told Cannabis Health he “will not give up” and is confident that the judicial review will be successful. 

“The only real way that they can win is if they can prove that our product is a public health risk, which I’m afraid they are not going to be able to,” he said

“For the past few months there has been a massive groundswell of unrest about the cannabis situation in Ireland. 

“It’s so unethical and outside the bounds of what we expect from a government who are meant to be looking after its citizens.”

Mr O’Brien continued: “At times we have felt extremely helpless and frustrated but we will never give up.

“We want to destigmatize cannabis and promote education and that is what our store is about. You never find bongs or grinders, it’s coffee, tea and sober people working in a normal environment bringing cannabis into the everyday. 

“That’s what Little Collins has been about every day for the last two and a half years.”

He added: “We’re private people, we didn’t ask for any of this attention, we just need the government to acknowledge that we are not breaking the law.”

The Irish socialist political party People Before Profit, has now called for clarity on the guidelines around CBD products.

People Before Profit TD, Gino Kenny, who previously campaigned for medical cannabis legalisation, said in a statement: “There is currently a contradiction in how the present laws are interpreted. One state body, such as the Health Products Regulatory Association (HPRA) states that trace amounts of THC can be permissible in CBD products that are sold, while the customs authority goes by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 which holds THC in any amount as illegal. The misuse of drugs laws need to be amended so they synchronise with the regulations of CBD products as a food supplement.”

Carlew councillor Adrienne Wallace added: “CBD products are well known for providing medical relief to people with various ailments…The Justice Minister needs to weigh in and set the record straight. 

“These are difficult enough times for people and small businesses and this is a waste of Garda resources.”

The Garda press office told Cannabis Health that An Garda Síochána does not comment on named entities or statements from third parties, but referred to the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2016, which states: “CBD is not a controlled drug following extraction from the plant, as it is not psychoactive. 

“However if CBD-containing products or preparations also contain THC, in any quantities, these are considered controlled drugs.

“Whilst there is currently no legal exemption under the Misuse of Drugs legislative framework for CBD-based products containing any amount of THC, it is envisaged that national legislation will be am

ended in the future to exempt CBD-based products containing trace amounts of THC at levels not greater than 0.3 percent from legal controls under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations.”

It added that all cases of drug seizures by An Garda Síochána are subject to analysis by Forensic Science Ireland.

The Department of Health refused to comment on Garda operations. 

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Epilepsy

CBGA may be ‘more potent’ than CBD against seizures in Dravet syndrome

Dr Lyndsey Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.

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Dravet Syndrome: A row of test tubes containing CBGA oil with a doctors white gloved hand holding one up to the light

Scientists say they have found the ‘Mother of all cannabinoids’ which may help to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome.

A new study on mice from the University of Sydney found that three acidic cannabinoids found in cannabis reduced seizures in Dravet syndrome, an intractable form of childhood epilepsy.

The three cannabinoids are cannabigerolic acid (CBGA), cannabidivarinic acid (CBDVA), cannabigerovarinic acid (CBGVA). All three but CBGA in particular “may contribute to the effects of cannabis-based products in childhood epilepsy” noted the researchers and were found to potentially have ‘anticonvulsant properties.”

The study marks the first time that three acidic cannabinoids were found to potentially help reduce seizures for Dravet syndrome.

Speaking with Cannabis Health News, the lead author of the study, Dr Lyndsey Anderson, said: “We found that CBGA exhibited both anticonvulsant and pro-convulsant effects. CBGA was more potent than CBD against febrile seizures in a mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We also found that a combination of CBGA and clobazam was more effective than either treatment alone. Additionally, we found that CBGA was anticonvulsant in the maximal electroshock acute seizure model, a model for generalized tonic-clonic seizures.”

She added: “CBGA did, however, present some proconvulsant effects. The frequency of spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome was increased with a high dose of CBGA. Also, CBGA was proconvulsant in the 6-Hz acute seizure model, a model of focal, psychomotor seizures.”

Although CBGA shows promise, Dr Anderson also stressed that it needs more research before it can replace CBD. She cautioned that Dravet syndrome patients may still need to proceed with caution.

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“Artisanal cannabis-based products are believed to reduce seizures in Dravet syndrome patients,” she said. “As these oils contain rare cannabinoids like CBGA, it is possible CBGA then contributes to the anticonvulsant effects of these artisanal cannabis oils. However, there were proconvulsant effects observed with CBGA, suggesting that Dravet syndrome patients may need to proceed with caution. The proconvulsant liability of CBGA would need to be addressed before it replaced CBD as an anticonvulsant.”

What is CBGA?

Sometimes referred to as ‘the mother of all cannabinoids,’ CBGA is the precursor molecule to many different cannabinioids including CBD and THC. It is thought to help some diseases such as colon cancer, metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease. It is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid much like CBD.

Dr Anderson explains that more research is needed to explain how the three cannabinoids work together.

“We don’t know how they work together yet,” she said. “We found that CBGA, CBDVA and CBGVA were all individually anticonvulsant against thermally induced seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. We did not investigate whether a combination of these three cannabinoids would result in a greater anticonvulsant effect than either cannabinoid alone. Future work will definitely explore this possibility.”  

CBGA future research

This isn’t the end of the research into CBGA for Dravet Syndrome. Dr Anderson said there is more to explore when it comes to creating more treatment options for Dravet syndrome.

 

She said: “Next on the horizon for this research is to explore whether the anticonvulsant properties of CBDVA and CBGVA translate to other seizure types including spontaneous seizures in the mouse model of Dravet syndrome. Additionally, we have extensively interrogated the anticonvulsant potential of individual cannabinoids and identified ten with anticonvulsant properties.”

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“We are now interested in investigating what happens when we combine these anticonvulsant properties. It remains an open possibility that greater anticonvulsant effects are achieved when the cannabinoids are administered in combination.”

The study was recently published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (DOI: 10.1111/bph.15661)

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New York regulators vote to allow home grow for medical cannabis patients

The new regulations would allow medical cannabis patients and carers in the state a safe, cost-effective way to access their medication

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New York: The statue of Liberty against a blue sky and the skyline of New York city

The proposed regulations would allow medical cannabis patients and carers in New York to grow up to six plants, indoors or outdoors, for therapeutic use.

New York cannabis regulators voted unanimously for the proposed regulations which would not only allow qualified patients to grow their own plants.

According to a slide from the Cannabis Control Board presentation, patients would be allowed six plants each but carers with more than one patient,  can “cultivate 1 additional cannabis plant for each subsequent patient.”

The new regulations would impose a duty on patients to ensure no one under the age of 21 can access the plants or any products cultivated from them.

Landlords would also have the option to prohibit their tenants from growing cannabis on their property if they chose. The products must not be processed using anything other than alcohol.

The regulations will now have a 60-day public commentary period before review.

Tremaine Wright, chair of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) said: “We are proud to present those proposed regulations. The home cultivation of medical cannabis will provide certified patients with a cost-effective means of obtaining cannabis through personal cultivation while creating a set of standards governing the conduct and activities relating to the personal cultivation of cannabis.”

In a press release, the CCB also gave an update on the expungement of cannabis convictions. “Approximately 203,000 cannabis-related charges are presently being suppressed from criminal background searches and are in process of being expunged, adding to the approximately 198,000 records that were expunged as part of the first round of cannabis expungement following legislation enacted in 2019.”

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New York recreational market

Earlier this year, New York. It would become the 16th US state to legalise recreational cannabis creating thousands of jobs and tax revenue. The bill was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March.

The law would allow for possession of up to three ounces of marijuana for personal use. It would allow licensed dispensaries to sell cannabis products to those over 21.

Neighbouring states who have already legalised marijuana, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, meant that New York citizens were leaving to access cannabis losing tax revenue in the process.

It is expected that home grow for recreational users will follow the proposed regulations for medical cannabis patients but only after the new market is established.

Read more: California governor signs Ryan’s Law to allow medical cannabis use in hospitals

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CiiTECH announces new CPD-accredited training course

It aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

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Ciitech academy
The course aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

Cannabis healthcare company CiiTECH has been awarded CPD accreditation for its academy course, which aims to support and encourage UK pharmacists, physicians and nurses.

CiiTECH’s Cannabis Science and Therapeutics course has had tremendous success after launching the course earlier this year.

The new and innovative course offers an interactive digital platform with a 12 chapter syllabus comprising of medical cannabis, CBD knowledge and information, specifically catered for healthcare professionals in the UK.

Industry experts in the UK could potentially face serious challenges if the trainers in question who are both recommending, and dispensing information are not up to the required standards in the field.

People currently working in the industry, such as pharmacy professionals will feel more secure and confident after taking the course. With such an array of knowledge from the experts, they are better able to recommend, treat and understand benefits and causes of their patients.

Besides all the learning and comprehensive information, simple FAQ questions by patients can be simply downloaded to have at hand as an ongoing reference.

The CBD industry is an extremely fast growing market, people are becoming more and more aware of benefits and common usage. It’s said that by 2025 the market in the UK only will be worth over £3 billion.

This means that clinics and pharmacies must be sourcing trustworthy information to their customers.

This course is aimed at filling an education gap in the market, by covering several points in intricate detail, from plant history to dosing, and patient care. A lot of occupations in the UK require an on going learning process each year, with positive results overtime, leading to a greater service in the industry.

“Through years of experience serving UK customers with our portfolio of CBD brands it was abundantly clear that the level of misinformation was enormous and confusing for everyone involved,” says Clifton Flack, CEO and founder of CiiTECH.

“Formal education is always important but with little to no existence in the UK we could not see a better way to help lead the industry than to establish our own online academy and give healthcare professionals the opportunity to not only learn about cannabis therapeutics but to earn further education points at the same time.”

Flack adds: “With the rise in UK cannabis prescriptions and CiiTECH’s long awaited move into the THC medical cannabis arena, now is the time to increase professional education and it is exactly why we have embarked on this education journey. CiiTECH is fast becoming the UK’s one stop shop for all your cannabis needs; research, education, consumer brands.”

CiiTECH collaborated with Medical Cannabis Mentor to produce the course and prepare it for CPD certification.

Joe Dolce, founder and CEO of Medical Cannabis Mentor, comments: “The course synthesises the most up-to-date scientific research and clinical guidelines in an engaging format to help professionals make informed treatment decisions.”

The course can be found on https://cpduk.co.uk/ or for pricing and registration visit:  https://ciitech.academy

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