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New shop in Bury St Edmunds will supply cannabis oil and herbal supplements

An Elmswell based herbal supplement company is aiming to open a town centre shop in Bury St Edmunds which will provide cannabis oil.

Ben Birrell, who grew up in West Suffolk, owns the Original Alternative which is the first non pharmaceutical company in the UK to be granted a licence to grow cannabis on Guernsey.

Ben has been in the legal cannabis oil trade for a number of years and is expecting to open in the next three to four weeks in a Bury town centre shop.

Ben Birrell and the team. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Ben Birrell and the team. Picture by Mecha Morton.

The company, which has a staff of 16, manufactures the products not far from its distribution base in Elmswell.

The shop will have a qualified medicinal herbalist, Beverley Meredith-Bailey, who will offer advice and consultation for people with specific conditions and if need be prescribe and make up supplements for people to use.

Beverley is registered with the National Institute of Herbal Medicine, which safeguards the principal of herbal medicine.

Ben, 40, began working with cannabis supplements 10 years ago after he became interested in its therapeutic properties while working in palliative care.

He said: “The use of herbal supplements is an almost forgotten knowledge. And cannabis is one of the oldest recorded medicines used years ago to help people. As our understanding of cannabis interaction gets bigger we are looking for more ways to use it.

The Original Alternative grows its cannabis in a two acre glasshouse on Guernsey and also has a shop on the island which supplies products that contain THC which is not licensed on the mainland.

The firm, which began small in Ben’s garage, has grown and last year supported Riverwalk School with a £5,000 donation to help it buy an interactive TV for students.

Front of house at the shop is Alison Turner.

There is ongoing debate about the use of cannabis oil. The supplement containing THC has psychotropic properties and is not legal here but CBD has only trace elements and is the legal form of the supplement.

Its use is licensed and has been shown to ease seizures and muscle spasms.

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