As more and more businesses begin to sell CBD, the need for clarity surrounding the law has never been more necessary CBD – is it legal in Ireland? In short – yes, it is. Visit our page to read more. Discover our wide range of CBD oils and e-liquids, hemp edibles and more!
Irish CBD laws are hurting business owners
Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD or hemp, is becoming increasingly popular in its use as a treatment for arthritis, insomnia, anxiety, pain relief and inflammation.
However, it is currently placed in a precarious position within Irish law. Tethering in a legal grey area, the need for new legislation is now becoming ever more apparent.
CBD business in Ireland
Currently, cannabidiol is underpinned by the Misuse of Drugs Act. Under EU law, however, products containing under 0.2 per cent tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive chemical found in cannabis), can be sold throughout the EU under European Regulation – resulting in a lack of legal clarity impacting businesses selling the product.
Little Collins, an Irish company that opened in 2018 by the husband-and-wife team, JP O’Brien and Ide Clancy, has felt the brunt of this lack of legal clarity surrounding CBD, experiencing its impact first-hand.
The company sells Hemp-derived products including Hemp flowers. Little Collins currently has a café in Kilkenny and Galway. JP told Buzz that “when Little Collins opened its first store in November 2018, we were given express permission from all the relevant authorities (Gardai, HSE/HPRA, FSAI, etc) that what we were doing was 100 per cent legal and no problems were raised.
“All our products are double-lab tested from independent testing centres and we would always ask for these lab reports to be produced before we buy any of the products/ingredients.”
Despite the extensive testing, due to the ambiguity in the law, he said, “our stores, home, and on two occasions in 2020 our customers’ homes have been raided by the national police force – An Garda Siochana. They have wiped our shelves clean and have questioned our staff at both our stores”.
Little Collins said Gardaí seized the product under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977. The act regards all preparations of cannabis, irrespective of their chemical components, as illegal.
The legal issue arises from an EU regulation that permits the growing of hemp where tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content does not exceed 0.2 per cent.
Although this regulation is in direct effect in Ireland, as EU law takes precedent, the Misuse of Drugs Act has no distinction in place to determine whether a concentration of less than 0.2 per cent of THC still constitutes a controlled substance.
“This would not have happened if Ireland’s cannabidiol regulations aligned with current policies put forth by the European Union. The unethical, aggressive, and duplicitous behaviour of the Irish government these last three years is galling to all those who witness it,” the business owner said.
JP jokingly added, “but as our solicitor says, you’d hardly be much of a criminal if you moved 17,000km across the world from Australia to start this business – then let everyone know via email and phone calls exactly what crime you were about to commit!”
While Little Collins sells CBD to its customers, other Irish businesses are more reluctant to, for fear of legal repercussions.
Richard Walsh, the owner of Tropic Lights, a Limerick-based company that sells CBD-derived products, such as balms and oils, told Buzz, “We sell some of the oils but we try not to dabble in any of the flowers or the concentrates because there might be a legal issue with THC content”.
“If I knew that there was no fear for the shop and for the customers then absolutely we would have no problem stocking these items,” he added.
“We have a lot of different types of people (who use our products). A lot of them would be athletes who use CBD balms for reducing inflammation or muscle pains,” Richard continued, discussing the people who use his products.
“People with sleep issues use it also. They find if they take it an hour or two before bed they get a solid night’s sleep from it,” he said.
CBD and the law
Niamh Kelly, a solicitor at Michael J Staines & Company said in an article that the laws surrounding CBD are “complicated and a legislative minefield in Ireland.”
CBD is covered by the Misuse of Drugs Act. Irish law, which states that any preparation of the plant is illegal, is in direct contrast to EU law, which states that CBD with under 0.2 per cent THC can be sold throughout the EU.
The Misuse of Drugs Act states, “‘Cannabis’ (except in cannabis resin’) means any plant of the genus cannabis or any part of any such plant (by whatever name designated) but includes neither cannabis resin nor any of the following products after separation from the rest of any such plant, namely –
(a) the mature stalk of any such plant
(b) fibre produced from such mature stalk, or
(c) seed of any such plant.’”
The act makes various substances controlled, such as cannabinol, except where contained in cannabis, cannabis resin and cannabinol derivatives.
However, the act does not contain any distinction on the limit of the amount of THC that must be present for a substance to be controlled.
The confusion seems to arise as the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 as amended is silent on whether amounts of less than 0.2 per cent constitute a controlled substance.
Food Safety Authority Of Ireland
Further confusion in the law presents itself in the disconnect between State Authorities and regulatory bodies. It is the position of the Revenue Commissioners that any substance containing any amount of THC is illegal to import. Due to this, any imports of CBD are treated as cannabis imports and as such subject to search and seizure under Section 34(1) of the Customs Act, 2015.
This in itself shows that CBD is considered wholly illegal in Ireland, however, The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), allows for the sale of CBD oil if it is extracted by cold pressing, an uncommon method which leads to low-grade oils.
On the FSAI website, it is stated that “under license from the Department of Health and facilitated by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, certain varieties of hemp can be grown in Ireland.”
According to the FSAI, some CBD oils and balms are classified as novel foods. A novel food is a food or food ingredient that was not available on the EU market to a significant degree before 15 May 1997.
This means that, for example, if a licence is granted by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, for the sale of CBD containing less than 0.2 per cent THC, a business importing CBD from the EU would be liable to have the product seized by Revenue, where it is the stance that any amount of CBD is a controlled substance.
The Department of Revenue told Buzz, “When the results are positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the products are detained and seized by Revenue under the Customs Act 2015.
“In relation to every seizure, the consignee has the right to make a valid claim seeking the return of the seized product.
“Where this happens, an investigation is carried out and a decision is reached.”
Increasingly, CBD is falling more and more into the mainstream with a growing number of people turning to the plant for pain relief, among other health benefits. However, the ambiguity in the law is hampering investment and deterring prospective businesses from developing.
As the demand for CBD as a health product continues to grow throughout Ireland, the need for legislative clarity surrounding the matter has never been greater.
CBD | Is it legal?
CBD – Cannabidiol is the one of the 2 major ingredients found in Cannabis plant (among many, many other beneficial ingredients). It is important to point out that it is not psychoactive and does not cause the so-called ‘high’ therefore safe to use.
Cannabidiol is listed in EU’s Cosmetics Ingredients database and Food Catalogue
All cosmetic products are made of, or with hemp oil from seeds of a hemp plant. This oil is obtained in process of cold stamping of hemp seeds. It is classified as food supplement, not medical product. Our edible products are produced with hemp flour also obtained from hemp seeds.
Disclaimer: For potential benefits of CBD reviewed by Health Products Regulator Authority please click here. Please note that all products available in our store are food and/or dietary supplements and not medicine . You can read more on CBD status on FSAI.ie Always consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and wellbeing, or on any information expressed within this site. Please seek the advice of your physician before taking supplements of any kind or stopping any medication.