The owner of two vegan CBD shops in Galway and Kilkenny, Ireland has found himself in a showdown with the police — or gardaí, as they are called in the Celtic language — who have relentlessly raided both businesses and are now threatening to shut them down entirely.
At issue is a tangled mess of regulations surrounding which cannabis products can be legally bought and sold in Ireland.
“We are f**ked here,” the Little Collins CBD Twitter account announced on Monday. The business also tweeted that gardaí had come to its Kilkenny location that day, and threatened to return to “close down our shop.”
Little Collins CBD sells vegan hemp products such as coffee, tea, topicals, oil, butter, pet products, and CBG and CBD-dominant flower.
“We guarantee you it’s all perfectly safe and legal,” owner James “J.P” O’Brien told a local news site in an interview last week, guessing that the gardaí’s suspicions were raised when they smelled the CBD paste that the shops serve in cups of coffee.
The stores were first searched by officers in May 2019, when they confiscated some 20 kilos of CBD product. A local news site reports that the Kilkenny City outlet has been visited by the police multiple times over the last few months.
In December, O’Brien filed a case in Ireland’s High Court against the minister of health, saying that the cannabidiol products they sell are well under the country’s legal limit of THC.
It’s no wonder that controversy rages over whether Little Collins CBD’s products are legal. Irish laws surrounding CBD are highly contradictory and confusing, as the country’s Revenue Commissioners and its Food Safety Authority have issued regulations at-odds with one another.
EU regulations, to which Ireland is subject, legalized cannabis plants and products with less than .2 percent THC. An EU court ruling in November likewise found that CBD is “not a narcotic” and protects the marketing of such products.
Though several independent Irish CBD stores have been subject to gardaí raids over the last few years, the same rules do not appear to apply to larger businesses. Many have pointed out that Irish chain stores like Holland and Barrett sell an array of CBD products, and have yet to be targeted by law enforcement.
O’Brien consulted Galway officials before opening Little Collins CBD, and was even visited by a police sergeant, who said if products fell below the .2 percent THC limit, “all would be fine.”
Ireland is far from the only country to suffer from confusing CBD regulations. In the United States, many business proprietors and consumers were arrested for CBD sale and possession in the time frame between the passage of the 2018 US Farm Bill (the legislation that made CBD legal) and the official adoption of the law by states.
“What you’re going to see in the next 10 years is a transformation in Ireland, in the cannabis industry,” says O’Brien. “We need to make it safe and well-regulated so that everyone can benefit.”
If you’d like to show your support for Little Collins CBD, head over to sign the shops’ change.org petition.
Follow Caitlin Donohue on Instagram.