The UK’s first not-for-profit shop for cannabis supplements has opened its doors in Edinburgh, with the aim of changing people’s perceptions of the drug and its medicinal properties.
The Hemp Community Interest Company, or Hemp for short, was set up by Dan Collins and opened to the public just over a fortnight ago in Leith in the north of the Scottish capital.
“I sometimes joke that my demographic is your auntie. I want people’s aunts and mums and grans to come in”
The 31-year-old is now selling hemp products and cannabidiol (CBD) food supplements in the form of oils, pastes and capsules, with products ranging from £10 to £100.
CBD products do not produce a high, as they have less than 0.2 per cent of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so are legal for sale in the UK.
Mr Collins said he wanted to “change this idea of cannabis as something of back alleys and dark head shops”, by opening his shop on a busy high street.
“It has to appeal to people over a certain age,” he told i. “I sometimes joke that my demographic is your auntie. I want people’s aunts and mums and grans to come in.
“I have a bit of a ‘no reggae’ music policy. I don’t have a problem with heads shops, I think they’re great fun, but there’s a huge demographic of people who aren’t interested in huge glass bongs.
“It’s just a different market, and as part of my mission to take cannabis to as many people as possible, it needs have as broad an appeal as possible.”
Last year, a report by the the World Health Organization (WHO) said CBD may have “anti-depressant effects” and lead to “reduced social anxiety”, with no negative impacts.
But while it acknowledges that cannabidiol could have some therapeutic value for seizures caused by epilepsy and other conditions, it does not currently recommend it for medical use.
Mr Collins said he had started taking CBD last April after concerns over his father’s health made him “incredibly anxious”, causing him to drink heavily and lose weight.
After experiencing the benefits himself, he decided to set up a non-profit enterprise.
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If he posts a profit, he plans to invest it in his range of products, cutting prices for customers and also putting money into health initiatives in the local community.
“I felt much more comfortable with the idea of setting up a business without trying to pursue profit over the idea of actually helping people,” he said.
All of his suppliers are from Scotland, which he said appealed to customers.
“I can point on a map to Dundee, Fife, Penicuik and Glasgow – it stops being a scary exotic plant. It’s something that’s here. We’ve been using it for thousands of years, after all.”
A spokesman for the Cannabis Trades Association said Mr Collins’s business was the only not-for-profit shop of its kind in the UK, with the handful of others being farms and online suppliers.
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