Article: Raids, Court Cases and Europe vs Ireland: Little Collins and the Complex Fight for CBD

Interesting piece in Skag Magazine online

Founded by husband and wife duo JP O’Brien and Ide Clancy, Little Collins first opened its doors in Galway on the 22nd of November 2018, and has since also established a store in Kilkenny City. Starting in May 2019,

Little Collins CBD has been targeted in a series of Garda raids, culminating with a third and most recent raid on the 5th of February 2021.

Where scenes that have become all too familiar with the store’s owners and staff, undercover Gardaí entered the premises, seized products like raw hemp, oils and butter, and questioned the staff. A tweet put out by the Little Collins CBD account on the 17th of February attempted to further highlight the uncompromising legal scrutiny they are under, suggesting that in addition to their business premises being raided 3 times, their own home was also raided, along with customers who have purchased from the shop. Further to this, their attempts at importing CBD stock has also been affected by seizures made by Irish customs, all for operating a business selling products which should be legal under current EU law.

Following these actions legal proceedings were launched against the business owners for possession and supply of cannabis products for sale. In response to these charges, JP has launched a High Court challenge against the state, arguing that his prosecution is invalid under the constitution and EU law. 

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In order to examine what has led us to this legal quagmire it is first necessary to define what CBD is and what distinguishes it from other members of the cannabis family. CBD is derived from hemp, which is itself sourced from the cannabis plant.

What makes CBD legal under EU law is the absence of THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is also derived from the cannabis plant. Put simply, THC is the substance in cannabis which produces the ‘high’ or ‘euphoric’ effect, while CBD has many of the same properties as THC, including those which have been said to help with anxiety, chronic pain and sleep disorders but it doesn’t produce a ‘high’ sensation.

So, CBD is allowed to be sold in health chains like Holland and Barrett, pharmacy chains like Boots and also by local businesses like Little Collins CBD.

CBD products can come in many forms, with health chains and pharmacies usually opting for CBD oil, gummies or tablets, with this form of CBD being chemically altered and synthesised in order to remove any traces of THC. Little Collins CBD offers a variety of these oils and pastes, but also offers the organic alternative of CBD flower buds and CBD leaf tea, which are essentially hemp in its purest, most natural form.

Whilst these CBD flower buds are still hemp, as they are organic and unprocessed they often have very low levels of THC in them. This is where a legal grey area has formed in Ireland, one which pits the 1977 Misuse of Drugs act against EU law and has left Little Collins trapped firmly in between the two legislations.

This has occurred as under EU law any CBD product is legal once it contains less than 0.2% THC, something which Little Collins CBD strictly ensured they adhered to by only purchasing CBD buds and leaf tea from certified sellers and also by sending the CBD for testing to make sure of its THC content. In contrast to this, The Irish Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 considers products with any trace of THC, no matter how small, to be illegal, thus classifying the CBD flower buds and leaf tea on sale as illegal and justifying the Garda raids on the business and the subsequent prosecution of its owners.

As the raids on Little Collins continued there has been an increasing media awareness of the situation; several articles have been written in established newspapers like the Irish Examiner and The Irish Times, along with radio discussions on stations such as RTE Radio 1 and KCLR FM. This visibility has led to several prominent figures in Irish discourse voicing their support for Little Collins CBD, with Blindboy Boatclub of the Rubberbandits and passionate advocate for cannabis reform Vera Twomey backing them in their High Court challenge.

 

Full story at https://www.skagmagazine.com/articles/little-collins-cbd?fbclid=IwAR1bYC30kX21rKgCdNK9sfnp_nDsRycHALFd7YxR4ky5vmWePCOjauoX8UM

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