Source: BBC News
Date: 6 February, 2004

'Cannabis lollies' spark outrage

cannabis lollies
The 'cannabis lollies' are sold across newsagent counters

Police and trading standards officers are investigating the sale of sweets called "cannabis lollies".

The green lollies, labelled as containing hemp extract, have been sent for analysis after going on sale in shops in Leeds.

Trading standards chiefs were alerted by a mother who complained that the sweets may lead children into drug use.

Angela Nichol, of New Farnley, Leeds, feared the lollipops glamorised drug taking.

"I went into a local shop and saw them on the counter, I was stuck for words," she said.

'Forbidden fruit'

"I mean, there's a big enough drug problem as it is. These lollies are selling for 30p when ordinary lollies are about 10p, the kids are going to think they're something special.

"It's like the forbidden fruit. There's all this in the news about cannabis being downgraded, a child might eat a lolly and think cannabis tastes like this and go on to bigger things."

The lollies, which come in a tub with a cannabis leaf motif on the front, are thought to have been made in Germany and sold to retailers in the Leeds area by a wholesaler in Bradford.

West Yorkshire's principal trading standards officer, Andrew Bibby, told BBC News Online: "We have sent one to the West Yorkshire public analyst to determine whether it contains any active ingredients.

"If it does then we will have legal powers to act to stop further sales.

Drug problems

"But even if it does not, we deplore any product that attracts children's interest in harmful drugs.

"However, there is nothing in current legislation which would prevent the sale of a harmless sugary lolly no matter how despicable its marketing image."

Tests on the lolly ingredients should be completed early next week, he said.

West Yorkshire Police said that although they had not received any complaints about the sweets, the local community policing team were looking into the matter.

Ailsa Mayers, who works for Community Neighbourhood Action in New Farnley, said: "There are drug problems as it is and you don't need, even if there is no cannabis in them, inciting people or encouraging young people to buy lollies that are named cannabis."

Naheem Bashir, owner of N&N Stores in Armley, which sells the cannabis lollies, said: "They contain a hemp extract and I am perfectly within my rights to sell them."

He said he had sold almost 500 of the sweets in the last week alone, but only allowed people aged over-18 to buy them.

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