Article: The rise and fall of The Canna Kitchen, the UK’s first cannabis infused restaurant has the lowdown on how it all went wrong for this hemp restaurant in Brighton..

In December 2018, Brighton welcomed the UK’s first cannabis-infused restaurant. Sam Ben-Rabah’s venture, The Canna Kitchen opened with fanfare, attracting press recognition from newspapers such as the Metro and even catching the eye of international counter-culture magazine High Times.

Designed to challenge perceptions about cannabis and promote healthy meat-free food, the restaurant’s slogan read “let food be thy medicine”. Ben-Rabah wasn’t new to the challenges of working in the industry, “Previously I owned a head shop and hydroponic wholesale franchise, a Hemp goods store and education centre, and I had built another CBD vape cafe which had also done well, so The Canna Kitchen was a natural progression from this.”

Aware that there were legal stipulations around selling CBD and cannabis, Ben-Rabah did everything to ensure his business was above board before launching, contacting Trading Standards to confirm they were within regulations by using only cannabis-based products containing less than 0.2% THC. He even went as far as to email the Met Police to verify he was operating within the law, their reply stating “As long as you have made reasonable inquiries and it has been said that they are legal, then there is no criminal offence.”

“As long as you have made reasonable inquiries and it has been said that they are legal, then there is no criminal offence.”

Following a visit from the police a few months after opening, Ben-Rabah was still under the impression that the authorities were satisfied with his business. “The police came by on a routine visit and expressed an interest in what we were doing. I showed them my paperwork and various due diligence that I had carried out, and explained at length and in great detail why, according to the information I had been provided with by senior police officials, Home Office and Trading Standards, I was confident that our actions were completely in line with UK law. They told me that they did not wish to disrupt business, and that they were keen to work with me to ensure that everything we were selling was in legally-acceptable. They asked if they could take away some voluntary samples for testing which I gladly gave, and said they would be in touch soon with their findings.”

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