This week, the Cumbrian company West Lakes Hemp, opened the doors to their new, Cleator Moor based CBD Café, a first for Cumbria.
The team at West Lakes Hemp are passionate about creating safe and effective CBD products and are dedicated to fighting the stigma surrounding CBD while also supporting the local community.
But what is CBD? And is it legal in the UK?
We caught up with directors of West Lakes Hemp, Nic Hewitt and Luke Woodend, to find out more…
Disclaimer: There are lots of debates surrounding CBD and cannabis legalization and we encourage you to explore this topic to make your own informed decisions. We recommend starting with this great article here.
Tell us a bit about West Lakes Hemp, how did you come to set it up?
Nic: In 2015 I was flooded out of my flat in Carlisle by Storm Desmond, I lost my job, moved back in with my parents and I hit rock bottom mentally.
I suffer with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, and I’d tried everything- antidepressants, therapy, etc. but I was finding that nothing was working.
I spoke about my situation with the dad of one of my best friends from primary school, who is a psychotherapist in America.
He told me he would have prescribed me medical cannabis, but as we live in the UK, I wouldn’t be able to access it due to it being illegal here.
My friend’s dad said “Well, why don’t we see if there’s something similar to medical cannabis for you?” and that’s how I first came across CBD. - Nic
I found a guy on Facebook selling CBD, and after 2 or 3 weeks of taking it, I felt like I was coming back to life. Getting CBD off someone in a Facebook group probably wasn't my best idea. But when you’re that low, you’re willing to try anything.
I went looking for UK CBD companies and I came across a lot of faceless websites, with nobody there to speak to you about it.
I thought, oh, there's a gap in the market here, so I did a little bit more research, kept taking CBD and feeling loads better.
Luke and I met in secondary school, so we’ve known each other since we were around 11, it was after I had started using CBD myself that I reached out to Luke.
Luke: I’ve always been an advocate for cannabis legalization in the UK, but I’d never heard of CBD until Nic mentioned it.
After hearing Nic’s story with it, I thought of course I'm on board with this. If it is making people feel better, then we’re doing a good deed and I’m also getting job satisfaction working in an industry I’m passionate about.
Could you tell us about your personal experiences of using CBD?
Luke: I’ve suffered with anxiety since 19, so I started using CBD myself, I also started using it to get a better understanding of it for our customers. It’s helped so much with my anxiety, and it got rid of a few of my pains, including a niggling wrist pain I had from a fall years back.
The most popular products we sell are our capsules, we start people on the lowest dose for a month and then move up in strengths until they are pain free or comfortable and getting the relief they need.
Nic: At 24, I was taking something like 27 tablets a day for my mental health, 5 core tablets for my problems and then further tablets for the side effects of those 5 core tablets, now, I just use my CBD.
Taking CBD really changed my life, it has had a knock-on effect on everything.
Say CBD out loud, say cannabis, say joint- It’s okay, we don’t need to be ashamed of it. - Nic
There’s a lot of misinformation surrounding CBD, including it being ‘illegal’, causing a ‘high’ and being ‘addictive’. Can you dispel some of these myths for us and tell us why you think it is surrounded by misinformation?
Nic: Absolutely. To start with, in 2016 there was a change to the Misuse of Drugs Act. They introduced something called the Psychoactive Drugs Act, where psychoactive drugs (that cause a high) were banned.
CBD isn't psychoactive, which allows us to legally sell and use it.
Luke: There are 114 cannabinoids in cannabis, and CBD is just one of them.
- Cannabinoids are any of a group of closely related compounds which include cannabinol and the active constituents of cannabis.
So, because CBD is connected to cannabis, the misinformation of it being ‘bad’, ‘scary’, or ‘addictive’, sticks around it.
There is medical cannabis available on the NHS, but it’s only used to target the side effects of chemo and epilepsy and you also have to have tried every other option before you’re aloud to try it.
We have customers come to us who have been in pain for decades, and whose tablets aren’t giving any relief. CBD acts for many people as a legal replacement for medical cannabis.
Nic: 80% of our job is doing interviews like this and chatting with the public to let them know there is no shame in using CBD or talking about cannabis and that it is fully safe.
You recently opened Cumbria’s first CBD café in Cleator Moor, tell us more about this
Luke: Originally, we had a shop in Carlisle, but we relocated because we want to produce our own CBD cosmetics. The café was an additional idea to help develop our connections.
Luke: The perceptions around cannabis can put people off a shop like ours and we don’t want older or younger generations to feel intimidated by this stigma, our café is a safe space for all ages and people.
We’ve got CBD teas, coffees, and hot chocolates and for those who don’t want to have CBD drinks, we have normal ones too.
Nic: We want to turn the café into a community hub, open it to youth groups and maybe have live music sessions and on the retail side of the shop, we also want a zero-waste area.
Talking about cannabis and CBD doesn’t have to be scary. We have a little consultation room for private chats, we want to make this discussion accessible.
Can young people safely use CBD?
Nic: Because the CBD industry is so new, there is no age regulation so as a responsible company and in terms of morals and ethics, if you’re buying it yourself, we say 18 or older.
Luke: We do often give parents all the facts, CBD does not cause any harm and is fully legal. You won’t encounter trouble using it yourself or allowing your children to use it.
Nic: When you’re a parent, you check everything new your child might eat, so it makes sense for parents to seek our advice first.
When I was in secondary school, most of the people I knew in school were using cannabis, so we really need to be talking about it and work with youth centres and schools to give the hard facts and not the propaganda.
Images attributed to: Platinum Live / Tom Kay