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Inverness high steet store sells cannabis oils that may be 10 times over the legal limit

By Louise Glen

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Retailer Holland and Barrett today claimed it is not doing anything criminal by selling cannabis oils that are up to 10 times the legal limit.

The international health food store, that has a branch in Inverness's Eastgate, was asked to defend its right to sell a certain brand of CBD (cannabidiol) oil when in scientific tests it turned out to be much more potent than legally allowed.

In its defence Holland and Barrett said the matter had not been tested in courts and it had taken measures not to break the law.

Dutch manufacturer Jacob Hooy advertise the oils, sold in the popular store, as having psychoactive chemical THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels of 4.4 milligrams in a 10ml bottle. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001, the legal limit of THC in any one product is 1mg.

THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of the cannabis plant, and is strictly controlled by legislation.

Holland and Barrett this week put the oils on sale in a buy one, get one half price offer.

Staff at the store told customers it cannot keep up with demand for the Jacob Hooy oils.

A spokeswoman for Holland and Barrett said, “As a responsible retailer, we have disseminated advice on various CBD topics via in-store leaflets supported by the industry including the European Industrial Hemp Association.

"The CBD oil sold by Holland and Barrett is a food supplement and as such, we do not make medicinal claims on these products.

"As a food supplement, CBD Oil is clearly not designed for administration of controlled cannabinoids as evidenced by its packaging and labelling.

"The presence of negligible quantities of controlled cannabinoids in the CBD oil is due to the technical difficulty in obtaining pure CBD.

"The CBD Oil is nevertheless manufactured to limit the presence of THC and we always verify that suppliers employ quality controls to minimise residues of THC in CBD products to negligible levels.

“Before listing these products in the UK in May 2016, we consulted with the UK Home Office and also took legal advice regarding the negligible amount of THC, which is unavoidably co-extracted with CBD from hemp.

"We sought legal advice as there has been no legal interpretation by the courts of terms such as “component part” or “preparation” and even if these terms apply to products sold as food supplements (which are subject to their own detailed rules regarding their manufacture, safety and marketing).

“The Scientific opinion published by EFSA in 2015 also found the lowest observable adverse effect level (LOAEL) for THC in humans to be 0.036 mg/kg body weight per day[1]. Taking into account the daily dosages of THC in CBD marketed by Jacob Hooy and other brands in the market, these are almost 10-fold below the LOAEL based on the data received to date from suppliers. This has been confirmed by our own independent due diligence testing also conducted by FERA ( Food and Environmental research agency )

“Based on our due diligence we believe that we are lawfully marketing these products, which are also lawfully marketed elsewhere in the EU with similar levels of THC.”

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