I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for taking this Topical Issue matter today.
I hope there can be some clarity on the confiscation of cannabidiol or CBD products around Ireland. Many people are confused about the legality of CBD products. Even I am confused on what is legal or not legal.
In recent months some shops in the country have been raided, for the want of a better word, by the police and the Customs and Excise. They have confiscated CBD products such as CBD flower, CBD tea and CBD oil. This is a great inconvenience for the shop owners because they are not breaking any law.
This stems from the law and in particular, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. There is no exception whatsoever for tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, trace amounts. This is where we run into trouble. The shop owners are perfectly legitimate and law-abiding. They are selling products that are perfectly legal but obviously there is a situation whereby the interpretation by some arms of the State, in particular, the Customs and Excise and the police, contravenes that of other arms of the State, namely, the Health Products Regulatory Authority and the Food Safety Authority. The latter authorities maintain there can be trace amounts of THC in CBD products of up to 0.2%. That is the background. Some of these shop owners will possibly face criminal sanction and thus the stakes are serious indeed.
If the police of this State interpreted the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 by the letter of the law, then there are shops not far from here on Grafton Street that are selling CBD products with trace amounts of THC at 0.2%. If that is the case, then the manager should be questioned by the police. There is a major contradiction in this regard.
Many people use CBD products and find them beneficial for their well-being. This is putting them in a situation whether they do not know whether they are breaking the law. This is a mess and I hope the Minister of State at the Department of Health can bring some clarity.
I have a document to hand from the Department of Health. I understand there are proposed amendments to the 1977 Act to provide for inclusion of trace amounts of THC up to 0.3%. That would give clarity because there is no clarity whatsoever around this issue at present. I hope the Minister of State can elaborate on that point.
The problem lies in laws that were written 42 years ago. They have not been updated to reflect what people are doing at the moment, including CBD shops and CBD derivatives. There has almost been a boom in production of these products during the past two and a half years.
I hope the Minister of State can give some clarity for the people who are listening. Many people are looking and listening to this segment in the Dáil tonight to see where they are going, as shop owners and people who use CBD. I hope they will not be criminalised.