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Uplift urges customers to snap up stock amid legal confusion

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Customs guidance: Uplift Dispensary, co-owned by sisters Michel’le and Kalyn Cannonier (File photograph)

A business that sells cannabidiol and hemp-derived products called on customers to “shop while supplies last” after it announced online the anticipated closure of two outlets owing to Customs guidance.

Uplift, which has locations on Burnaby Street and Front Street, said in a post on Instagram that it had no choice other than to shut down its operations until the matter was resolved.

Its announcement on Friday highlighted that guidance from the “Bermuda Customs Agency” interpreted hemp as the plant cannabis sativa, or any part thereof, with a THC content of not more than 1 per cent.

Information on the Government of Bermuda website added that the meaning also covered “such other concentration as may be specified by the minister by order published in the [Official] Gazette”.

Trend setters: Uplift’s announcement on social media, April 5, 2024 (Image courtesy of Uplift Instagram account)

Uplift’s post on Friday said: “This update would mean that we would only be able to sell the plant itself and no concentration thereof, all other products would therefore be illegal including our lotions, CBD oil, pre-rolls and gummies.

“We have no choice but to close both our locations in Hamilton until this matter is resolved.”

The Government was contacted then by The Royal Gazette for information and comment but none was received by the time of publication.

Uplift announcement on social media, April 5, 2024 (Image courtesy of Uplift Instagram account)

Uplift added a second post later on Friday that urged people to attend its outlets on Saturday to “shop while products remain”.

The notice said: “Given the uncertainty of the hemp industry in Bermuda we encourage our customers to shop while supplies last.

“We are unable to confirm whether our products will be back in stock. We are working diligently to challenge this new update in guidance."

A caption that accompanied its post said: “From day one our mission has been to uplift and improve the wellbeing of our customers.

“We do not know the state of the hemp space here in Bermuda, but we will continue to be trend setters in this space. The legislation needs to be accurate, reliable and consistent.”

Uplift thanked customers for their support and urged them to write to the ministries of health and national security, as well as to the Premier, Department of Customs and constituency MPs.

Sisters Michel’le and Kalyn Cannonier own the business, which started at Harbour Nights before its first store opened in September 2022, with the second following last December.

The Gazette spoke to staff at the Burnaby Street location on Saturday but they declined to comment, pending legal advice.

Information on the Government’s website said that the importation of cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinoids and tetrahydrocannabinol was prohibited without an import licence, and could result in prosecution.

It added: “THC is an abbreviation for the controlled drug tetrahydrocannabinol, and it includes tetrahydrocannabinol in all its forms, including delta-8 THC, delta-9 THC, delta-10 THC, delta- 11 and any other form of THC.

“For clarity, THCa — a precursor of THC — is a cannabinoid and is not covered by the definition of hemp.

“For the avoidance of doubt, products that are not ‘the plant cannabis sativa, or any part thereof’ are not hemp, even if they contain 1 per cent or less THC.

“In particular, food products containing cannabinoids, including THC — “edibles” — are not covered under the definition of hemp.

“Hemp may be imported without an import licence.”

The guidance explained that except for certain circumstances, imports of hemp must be supported by a valid, up-to-date certificate of analysis from an accredited laboratory.

It added: “Where goods purporting to be hemp are found to have a THC content exceeding 1 per cent or the goods are other cannabinoids, in addition to the product being seized and destroyed, the importer in question could be liable to prosecution and fines, imprisonment or both — even if the product is legal where purchased.”

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Published April 08, 2024 at 10:59 am (Updated April 08, 2024 at 10:59 am)

Uplift urges customers to snap up stock amid legal confusion

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