Mark Casci: Why cannabis products could be an unlikely boost to the high street

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When I started as a reporter any story that included references to the selling of cannabis on the high street would have been almost certainly filed into the crime section.

However the substance could prove to be a once unlikely source of good news for the beleaguered retail sector.

High Streets have endured a tough time

High Streets have endured a tough time

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News has emerged this week that a cannabis extract cannabidiol look set to become a feature of high streets across the UK under plans for the first nationwide chain of its kind.

Geremy Thomas - founder of medicinal cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) group Sativa - has revealed ambitious aims to launch around 100 Goodbody Wellness shops across the UK within two years.

He said it marks the start of a “major high street journey” for Goodbody Wellness as CBD products take the UK by storm.

CBD products are made from cannabis plants but lack the psychoactive ingredient that intoxicates people, or gets them high to coin a phrase.

It is completely legal. You can buy CBD oil in many chemists right now without need for prescription.

There is even a business in Leeds that has produced marshmallows with CBD in.

The oil has a myriad of beneficial potentials for customers, helping with everything from anxiety to joint pain to skin conditions.

CBD is believed to boost the body’s so-called endocannabinoid system, which works to restore balance.

And, according to recent projections, CBD products are estimated to be worth nearly £1 billion by 2025.

The move will be the first time that a store specifically dedicated to the sale of medical cannabis products has gone national.

It is an exciting move for retail.

The words “High Street” seldom appear in print these days with anything that can remotely be construed as good news.

A raft of high profile retailers have announced in recent years that they are either reducing their estates or getting rid of them altogether.

However Mr Thomas’s chain looks set to create around 400 retail jobs in the first two years, with all employees receiving training on CBD and products.

“I feel very confident that you will see this as a feature of the high street,” he told PA.

Sativa listed on London’s NEX Exchange in March 2018 as the UK’s first medicinal cannabis investment vehicle.

Mr Thomas assessment of the UK market for CBD products is insightful. He claims the UK government has been slow to recognise the benefits of medicinal cannabis, something of an understatement.

Recent stories about families with children whose seizures can only be controlled with CBD products, yet are being denied them, shame our country.

He remains is hopeful Britain will follow the lead of pioneers such as Canada, where it is legal both for recreational and medicinal use. I do not see legal recreational use and sale of cannabis being a likelihood in the UK’s short-term future, nor do I wish to open a debate on the matter.

But if we are to move forward as an economy and a society we need to differentiate between substances which have a debatably negative impact on our lives and those which help.

We are talking about a legal product with benefits which have been clinically proven to work.

The question I would pose at this point is where are the Yorkshire entrepreneurs looking to capitalise on this area? Or are there any new areas of retail that are currently pushed to the fringes?