A shop selling cannabis oil will open in St John's Shopping Centre today and its owners say the way we view cannabis is set to change dramatically.
CBD Oil UK is a Belfast-based business selling cannabis-based CBD products such as CBD Oil and they're expanding into England with the opening of four new stores.
Business partners Kurtis Taylor, 18, and Jami Coates, 38, originally from Belfast, met by chance.
Kurtis said: “I used to do online marketing throughout Belfast, and Jami used to own a motorbike shop two years ago.
“I did some online marketing for Jami’s bike shop and one day he came down with a bottle of cannabis oil from a health foods shop. And I asked what it was.”
“Basically, Jami is diabetic, he was diagnosed with type two diabetes and wanted to reverse it, and said the oil is going to help with that.
“So I looked into it and he looked into it as well and realised that there isn’t a place where you can actually get it from.
“Knowing that people need this stuff, we knew it was a big opportunity. So we decided that there needs to be a shop somewhere.”
They launched their business in August 2017, delivering directly to customers who ordered via Facebook for two months before their first store opened.
They now work full-time on CBD Oil UK, employing more than 30 people across six stores in Northern Ireland, and four stores in the UK in Darlington, Edinburgh, Cornwall, and now Liverpool.
What does the NHS say about Medical cannabis and CBD oil?
According to the NHS website CBD is a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits.
It won't get you high, because it doesn't contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.
Medical cannabis (and cannabis oils)
“Medical cannabis” is a broad term for any sort of cannabis-based medicine used to relieve symptoms.
Many cannabis-based products are available to buy online, but their quality and content is not known. They may be illegal and potentially dangerous.
Some products that might claim to be medical cannabis, such as “CBD oil” or hemp oil, are available to buy legally as food supplements from health stores. But there's no guarantee these are of good quality or provide any health benefits.
And some cannabis-based products are available on prescription as medicinal cannabis. These are only likely to benefit a very small number of patients.
What about products available to buy?
Some cannabis-based products are available to buy over the internet without a prescription.
It's likely most of these products – even those called “CBD oils” – will be illegal to possess or supply. There's a good chance they will contain THC, and may not be safe to use.
Health stores sell certain types of “pure CBD”. However, there's no guarantee these products will be of good quality.
And they tend to only contain very small amounts of CBD, so it's not clear what effect they would have.
CBD and THC can affect how other medicines work. Always discuss possible interactions with your specialist.
CBD can also affect how your liver works, so doctors would need to monitor you regularly.
How do I get a prescription?
You cannot get cannabis-based medicine from your GP – it can only be prescribed by a specialist hospital doctor.
And it is only likely to be prescribed for a small number of patients.
A hospital specialist might consider prescribing medical cannabis if:
Your child has one of the rare forms of epilepsy that might be helped by medical cannabis
You have spasticity from MS and treatments for this aren't helping
You have vomiting or feel sick from chemotherapy and anti-sickness treatments aren't helping
The specialist will discuss with you all the other treatment options first, before considering a cannabis-based product.
A prescription for medical cannabis would only be given when it was believed to be in your best interests, and when other treatments hadn't worked or weren't suitable.
Will the laws on cannabis be relaxed?
The government has no intention of legalising the use of cannabis for recreational (non-medical) use.
Possessing cannabis is illegal, whatever you're using it for. That includes medical use unless it has been prescribed for you.
Kurtis said: “Our products range from oils, edibles, concentrates, skin care, and e-liquids that are quality guaranteed and lab tested products sourced from suppliers in Colorado, Europe and the UK. The most popular product is the oils, it is one of the healthier ways to get CBD into the system.
“At at a time where people are going online, we still wanted to build a greater physical brand presence for customers to ask questions. We heavily rely on customer reviews and testimonials.”
Though cannabis can now be legally prescribed for medical use, Kurtis and Jami have still found the use of cannabis to be a grey area for some customers.
(Image: North Wales Daily Post)
Kurtis said: “As soon as people hear what it is we are selling, there is already a stigma. Our main priority is to educate and talk to people, and explain that CBD Oil products are healthy, and doesn’t provide you with any high.
“The body actually needs this stuff to function correctly, whenever we have a deficiency, like magnesium or calcium, obviously your body doesn’t react like it should.”
“CBD is actually produced in breast milk from pregnancy in high quantities too!”
He added: “Over the last year, we’ve noticed significant changes towards cannabis as a whole. We have grandparents supporting us openly telling us that it is good. Though we don’t provide complete cannabis, people are really coming out of the woodwork.
“And because some of the biggest shopping centres in the UK, like the Metro Centre, are reaching out to us, this helps to give us a lot of credibility.
“I think there is going to be a global cannabis acceptance in a matter of years and everyone's attitudes will change, everyone will be educated. It changes people’s lives.”