An Irish businessman has taken advantage of a legal loophole to open an Amsterdam-style cannabis café in Waterford.

EU regulations effective in Ireland stipulate that all hemp products sold in the country must contain less than 0.2% THC. William Fox decided to simply put together a range of cannabis products that were low in THC and high in CBD and open Blooms Café on the high street of Ireland’s oldest city.

He says the products are not medicinal, advising people suffering with epilepsy and other conditions to visit a doctor instead. His café’s offerings are simply designed to provide relaxation and stress relief.

“High CBD strains are perfect for those who want a relaxing and calming experience, but do not want the mind-altering effects that are caused by THC, the compound found in illegal cannabis,” said Fox.

Blooms Café sells organic coffee and vegan desserts alongside the organically farmed cannabis products. It also has an online store, selling strains including Master Kush, Strawberry Cough, NYC Diesel and Cheese, ranging from €10 to €50 ($11.50 to $57.60), with plans to export to the rest of Europe.

Fox and his business partner, Ailin Clancy, are keen to point out on the café’s social media channels that CBD does not impair mental function, it’s not toxic, and it’s not addictive. The idea is to make “everybody feel mellow” as an antidote to the “fast-moving society we live in”. Blooms has pledged to constantly increase the range of strains and edibles it stocks.

Cannabis remains illegal for recreational purposes in Ireland under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, although people can apply for a permit to source medicinal marijuana to treat a range of conditions. A campaign is underway to totally legalize cannabis for medical purposes, and a study suggests that most Irish people believe it should be made legal.

Catherine Byrne, the country’s health promotion minister, welcomed the findings, which suggested that three-quarters of the population are in favour of legalizing and regulating medicinal marijuana. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the leader of Ireland, responded to news that Canada would legalize cannabis for recreational use by saying that decriminalization is “under consideration” in Ireland and that he has put together an expert taskforce to look into it.

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