The Little Collins CBD dispensary, which has stores in Kilkenny and Galway, says its business is unfairly being made unviable due to an effective ban on any products containing THC.
This is the fourth time Mr O’Brien has been raided in the past two and a half years.
“Cannabis could be 0.01% THC or 1,000%, and it’s the same product to them.”
The products contain trace amounts of the psychoactive THC, under 0.2%.
The European Court of Justice ruled last year this level of THC does not appear to have any negative health impact. It said CBD products which contain THC of under 0.2% should not be treated as narcotics.
However, in Ireland if CBD products contain THC in any quantities, they are considered controlled drugs, meaning they are effectively banned.
That law is expected to change.
In a statement, An Garda Síochána said: “Whilst there is no legal exemption for CBD products containing any amount of THC, it is envisaged legislation will be amended in the future to exempt CBD-based products containing trace amounts of THC at levels not greater than 0.3%.”
‘No psychotropic effects’
Mr O’Brien said it is unfair he is being prosecuted and his business is being raided for selling products which the European Court of Justice ruled should be legal.
He argued: “Hemp products have no psychotropic effects. We have thousands of customers around Ireland. We’ve been giving them this product for two and a half years, and haven’t had one complaint.
It is possible to make synthetic CBD products with no trace amounts of THC.
Asked why Little Collins does not exclusively sell these products, Mr O’Brien said: “It’s like asking the guy in the fresh fruit market why he’s not selling vitamin C pills instead of oranges. Everything doesn’t have to be synthetic. We believe people deserve a choice between going to the chemist and getting something natural.”
Chris Allen, the head of Hemp Industry Ireland, says Ireland’s decision not to uphold the EU ruling is devastating for businesses.
She said: “Irish companies were instrumental in driving the development of the European sector over the last 25 years, and are now excluded from participating in the opening up of that market. That’s really wrong.
“The Irish government needs to stop mis-applying the misuse of drugs laws.”
The Irish Farmers Association has also asked for the laws in this area to be changed to give Irish farmers a new revenue stream.
The Department of Health said it could not comment on the matter due to the ongoing court case involving Mr O’Brien.