CBD oil restaurant shut down despite police go-ahead
Canna Kitchen owner says police and trading standards told him CBD oil was legal 💯
The UK’s first cannabis restaurant raided by police in Brighton
A south-coast vegetarian restaurant has become the first UK food business to be shut down for infusing its dishes with CBD cannabis oil despite its owners saying they were assured less than a year ago by police and trading standards that the products were legal.
The Canna Kitchen, in Brighton, has been closed since a police raid at the start of May.
The owners, whose slogan is “let food be thy medicine”, face losing hundreds of thousands of pounds and laying off 15 staff.
Drug reform campaigners have described Sussex police’s action as “heavy-handed”.
Sam Evolution, Canna’s director, said he had evidence that the police and the UK Trading Standards Agency had given him the go-ahead to open a restaurant that sold food infused with CBD oil last July.
Speaking for the first time about the raid on 11 May, Evolution said he and his staff went out of their way to inform the police about what they were selling.
“On 1 July 2018 we contacted the Met police via email in an attempt to verify the official UK legal position on the sale of CBD hemp flower. Their response [in the email] was, ‘As long as you have made reasonable inquiries and it has been said that they are legal, then there is no criminal offence.’ We made this inquiry to ensure that we were always operating well within the law.
“We also made a separate inquiry to trading standards, who told us that as far as they could tell, there are no current legal issues posted by the sale of hemp-derived CBD products. It is clear CBD is not a controlled substance. It is freely available from many large high-street chains.”
Separately in March, a police officer from the Sussex constabulary visited the Canna Kitchen and, according to Evolution, told them “he did not want to interrupt our business”.
The officer was given samples of the CBD products, including items of food to take back to police headquarters for testing, Evolution said.
“The products taken included legal [lab-verified] full spectrum organic CBD oils, capsules, pastes, balms and beauty products. As well, there were CBD teas and coffees, chocolates, cakes, pet treats, hemp seeds and hemp flower,” he said.
Two months later up to a dozen officers carried out searches at the restaurant, ejected customers and forced staff to remain in one room for four and a half hours, Evolution said.
“I was stunned to learn this in light of our prior full and open cooperation with the police … it felt completely over the top.”
He said nothing on sale in the restaurant or in a dispensary shop above it involved illicit substances. Evolution added his business ethos was “wholesome, ethical, forward thinking and clean”.
“We have always taken very stringent measures to ensure that we comply with the letter of the law.”
Evolution stressed that Canna operated under Home Office guidelines, which stated that any CBD production containing less 0.2% of THC –tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects is legally permissible.
A Sussex police spokesperson said the 11 May raid was part of an investigation into “money laundering and the supply of class B drugs” in Brighton.
They added: “At the shop in Duke Street a significant quantity of herbal cannabis was seized.”
Evolution said the inquiry into money laundering had nothing to do with his business and was connected to a raid on other premises in Brighton.
On the seizure of herbal cannabis, Evolution said: “It was industrial hemp that was seized from our Duke Street premises, which is imported legally with all taxes and duties paid. We have no connection to any other shop or residence raided in the police operation.”
Transform, which campaigns to reform drug policy, said The Canna Kitchen had been the victim of a heavy-handed police response compounded by confusion over the legality of the cannabis products it was selling.
“This is something that could have been dealt with as a civil licensing issue, rather than a criminal case,” said Danny Kuslick, the head of Transform’s external affairs.
“It may also demonstrate some significant confusion on all sides regarding the legality of the sale of hemp products for consumption, CBD and provision of medical cannabis. This is a situation that requires urgent clarification and guidance to reduce police involvement to a minimum.”
The Home Office said it could not comment on the raid as “operational policing decisions are a matter for chief constables”.
Evolution said he and his family stood to lose £250,000 of an initial investment in what they maintained was a health food business, as well as investors who were ready to buy into an expansion of the Canna Kitchen concept.
“I have a seven-month-old baby and a wife on maternity leave, so financially this has not been a great time to close my business. We fully cooperated with the authorities and even asked for advice from them in case there was anything we should remove from our store. The only conclusion I can come to is that I feel we have been targeted by the police as a test case.”
CBD CAFE BRIGHTON RAIDED
seized is legal industrial hemp.
Officers executed a warrant at Canna Kitchen in Duke Street
A 36-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and supplying class B drugs.
Questioned over the supply of CBD flowers and oil, which police have told her are a Class B drug.
A spokesperson for Canna Kitchen said: “A quantity of stock was seized from our shop today. Our products are defined as industrial hemp, and are clearly and transparently imported as such, with all taxes and duties paid.
Our products contain CBD and trace elements of THC in line with the UK legal guidelines for pharmaceutical definitions and UK legal definitions of CBD products.
If trace elements of THC render these products illegal, then by default all CBD products must be illegal in the UK. This would mean that many large high street chains are currently breaking the law.
“We have never in the past year and a half had any confusion over the legality of these products, and are disappointed with the heavy handed approach of the Sussex Police force today.”
“A further warrant was conducted at a shop in Duke Street and a significant quantity of herbal cannabis was seized.”
Canna Kitchen opened in December and features vegan and vegetarian food with the option of added cannabidiol or CBD, a non-psychoactive legal cannabis extract.
Trading Standards officers from Brighton and Hove City Council assisted the police during the raids.
CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive legal cannabis extract. Health products containing it have become very popular in the UK in recent months, with even Holland & Barrett launching a product containing it.
However, to be legal, it must contain no psychoactive cannabis strains such as THC.
According to a 2019 Home Office guidance note, selling or possessing pure CBD is not illegal, but if it contains any controlled cannabinoids, such as THC, it would be illegal.
It also adds: “It is our understanding that it is very difficult to isolate pure CBD, and in our experience many products in fact do not fully disclose their contents or provide a full spectrum analysis at an appropriate level of sensitivity to accurately and consistently determine their true content or control status.”
On Wednesday, Canna Kitchen said: “Our products contain CBD and trace elements of THC in line with the UK legal guidelines for pharmaceutical definitions and UK legal definitions of CBD products.
“If trace elements of THC render these products illegal, then by default all CBD products must be illegal in the UK. This would mean that many large high street chains are currently breaking the law.”
Cannabis-Infused CBD Restaurant
The United Kingdom legalized medical marijuana treatments and hemp CBD products. This new market opens the door to a multitude of business opportunities and many people didn’t waste any time and immediately jumped on the green wave.
Two hours away from London and only a few blocks away from the sea, on a small and bustling street in the historic quarter of Brighton. The Canna Kitchen, which opened in December 2018, is the first vegan and vegetarian cannabis-infused restaurant in the U.K.
The air was thick with humidity and the wind from the sea blew fiercely. As I left the noise and congestion of the street and step in, I immediately felt relaxed. Pastel tones, wooden details on the wall, and an elegant interior decor style made the atmosphere of The Canna Kitchen warm and welcoming. Head Chef Charlotte Kjaer welcomed me at the door with a smile and introduced me to Sam Evolution, the founder and manager of The Canna Kitchen.
On a mission to change the way people perceive the plant, Sam and his team focus on high quality, healthy, and creative dishes that can all be infused with cannabis according to the client’s desires.
“Everybody is talking about CBD now but we also cook with other cannabinoids as CBG (cannabigerol) and CBN (cannabinol),”
Sipping some hemp tea. I went for a Canna Sandwich—a harissa-spiced organic tofu or chickpea and tofu sandwich on locally-baked sourdough with homemade hummus and CBD-infused tahini cream, served with a seasonal salad. Following the chef’s suggestion, I also tried the Lean Greens (tempura green beans, hemp & hazelnut dukkah, CBD tahini cream, pomegranate and parsley) and the Smoked & Curled (carrot “lox”, hemp and buckwheat blinis with CBD-infused dill coconut cream cheese, cultured beetroot, pickled red onion and crispy capers).
“Our mission is to change the way people think about the cannabis plant by creating beautiful vegetarian dishes which are tastefully complemented with its infusion. Cannabis is a highly nutritious, versatile, and powerful herb; it is packed full of flavor, fragrance, and natural therapeutic benefit.”
Upstairs to the dispensary and cozy lounge section. Enjoying a CBD joint while sipping infused Moroccan coffee or Earl Grey tea on the terrace with friends is a must on sunny days. The dispensary offers a wide range of items, from vaporizers to skin-care products, to pet food and a variety of herbs, all with THC levels below 0.2%.
The laws around cannabis use have become increasingly more relaxed after high profile cases have helped change attitudes on the drug, especially after cases like that of Billy Caldwell, who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy and had been granted an emergency licence allowing him to be treated with medical marijuana after his cannabis oil from Canada was seized at Heathrow Airport last year, generating a huge popular outcry.
“The public response to the restaurant has been very good,” said Evolution “People are curious towards the plant and we want to spark a larger conversation around it, inform the public.”
The Canna Kitchen will most certainly lead the way for many more concepts like it in the UK. I have learned about Jeremy Corbyn’s son opening a hemp cafe in north London, we are extremely excited about this, and needless to say he has our full support on this project. It’s an exciting time for hemp/cannabis, which is being bought back into mainstream recognition, where it belongs,” he concluded.
UK’s first vegan and vegetarian cannabis restaurant
The founders of what is being dubbed Britain’s first vegan and vegetarian cannabis restaurant dreamed up the idea in a bid to “redress outdated stereotypes” about the plant.
Sam Evolution wants his new venture Canna Kitchen to “educate society” and said it will open the eyes of customers so they experience the plant in new forms and no longer view it as simply a recreational drug.
The venue in Brighton has hosted its first guests in a series of private launch events and opens to the public on Saturday.
The menu features food and drinks infused with legal and non-psychoactive organic cannabinoid products containing the compounds CBD, CBG and CBN.
The restaurant describes cannabis as a “versatile and powerful herb, packed full of flavour and fragrance, with a whole range of natural therapeutic benefits”.
The team were inspired by research claiming the plant can boost appetite, tackle pain, help with digestive problems and reproduction issues and combat stress or memory loss.
In an interview with the Press Association, Mr Evolution said: “Our mission is to spark a larger conversation around cannabis, to assist in educating and re-informing society’s perceptions of the plant.
“The Canna Kitchen aims to achieve this by offering people an opportunity to experience the plant in a form that may be new to them.”
He is confident his restaurant is the first of its kind, adding: “I researched heavily into any other legal restaurant establishments in the UK, and aside from a pop up in 2015, I could find no other projects of this nature.”
Other venues experimenting in this area include a coffee shop in Swansea which opened earlier this year, reportedly offering customers the chance to add shots of cannabis oil to drinks.
Purezza – which brands itself the first vegan pizzeria in the UK with restaurants in Brighton and London – offers a hemp flour pizza base.
Canna Kitchen will focus on healthy food made from organic local produce.
Some of the infusions will be tasteless but pastes and oils using the whole plant will have an “earthy yet fragrant flavour”, Mr Evolution said.
Head chef Charlotte Kjaer is experimenting with dishes including Zaa’tar roasted cauliflower, hemp heart tabbouleh, smoked aubergine, sesame Cavolo Nero and buckwheat and beetroot pancakes served with refreshments like non-alcoholic hash beer.
She said: “I enjoy to cook with the seasons and in harmony with nature, a diet rich in seasonal plant-based food is not only nutritious for the body, but also beneficial for the planet.
“I aim to create honest, balanced and vibrant food.
“CBD has become something of a buzzword in recent months, but CBD isn’t the only property that makes cannabis a wonder plant.
“Cannabis produces a variety of compounds, many of which have not been detected in any other plant.”
So far support for the project has been overwhelming with many people “keen to see the plant receive the acknowledgement it truly deserves”, Mr Evolution said.
But there had also been criticism from people who “seem to struggle with separating outdated definitions of the plant”, although this was a minority, he said.
Mr Evolution encouraged people to research and draw their own conclusions, adding: “There is a wealth of information available for people who wish to learn more about this plant, not only regarding its health and nutritional value, but also its diverse and revolutionary applications for industry.
“There is a long and rich history surrounding this plant. One which fascinates me, and I am thrilled to play a part in bringing it back into the mainstream.”
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