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Questions about THC products in stores unanswered

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

Questions about the importation of THC products remain unanswered after guidance posted on the Government website were taken down.

Uplift, which sells cannabidiol and hemp-derived products said on Friday that it anticipated closure of its two outlets owing to Customs guidance which limited the hemp products that could be imported.

However, the guidance was stripped from the Government website by Monday afternoon.

An Instagram post by Uplift this week contained what appeared to be a portion from an e-mail stating that “the subject web content has been taken down”.

The excerpt continued: “The guidance was issued by Customs prematurely. Replacement guidance will be issued in due course. My apologies for any confusion.”

Uplift said in the post: “Although this is not a complete win it is a step in the right direction.

“Our doors will remain open. We value our customers so much and we are so grateful for your calls, messages, e-mails and in person visits! Thank you!”

Taken down: an image posted on the Uplift Instagram page.

Uplift has declined to comment on the situation so far, but has indicated that it may be able to speak later this week.

The Royal Gazette also contacted several other retailers who sell THC products, but those who have responded said they did not wish to comment until they knew more about the situation.

The Ministry of National Security has also been contacted repeatedly for comment since Friday about the guidance posted online, its removal this week and if officials had spoken to Uplift about their concerns.

As of press time last night, the ministry had yet to comment.

Uplift, which has locations on Burnaby Street and Front Street, said in a post on Instagram that because of Customs-issued guidance, 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.

Uplift later urged customers to come out on Saturday to “shop while products remain”, leading to lines of customers in the stores.

Prior to its removal, the guidance stated 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.”

The guidance appeared to mirror the Misuse of Drugs (Hemp) Amendment Act 2019, which created a legal distinction between hemp and cannabis.

The legislation defines hemp as “the plant cannabis sativa, or any part thereof, with a THC content of not more than 1 per cent or such other concentration as may be specified by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette”.

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Published April 11, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 10, 2024 at 7:49 pm)

Questions about THC products in stores unanswered

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