Cannabis is being sold legally iin Sheffield shops because of a loophole in the law, The Star can reveal.
Seeds of the Class B drug - linked to long-term mental health problems and paranoia - can be bought for as little as £8. It would then take just three months to germinate the seeds and grow plants for harvesting.
Shops including two in the Devonshire Quarter, and one in Castle Market, are using a legal anomaly which means it is lawful to sell cannabis seeds as long as they are unfertilised.
Today, drugs campaigners and politicians condemned the sales.
Christine Tooze, who ran charity Kickstart from her home in Fulwood for 20 years, said: “This is a loophole that needs closing. What possible reason is there to buy these seeds other than to grow them for drugs?
“That’s illegal, and it’s dangerous, and it’s a first step into addiction. Simply selling these seeds encourages illegall activity. It is unethical.”
Christine, who has helped more than 14,000 addicts get clean, added: “Cannabis is not harmless. It causes severe mental damage. There’s no excuse for this.”
David Blunkett, MP for Hillsborough and Brightside and former Home Secretary, said: “If this isn’t illegal - and that surprises me - it should be. I’m surprised seeds don’t fall under the definition of drug paraphernalia, which takes into account anything used to produce and cultivate drugs.
“I would tell these shop owners - find another way to earn a living.”
Today the shops’ managers remained defiant.
Sol Smith, who runs Balance on Devonshire Street, said: “We sell seeds as collectors’ items and souvenirs. It states clearly they are for novelty value only, and we have a policy that if anyone asks our staff for advice about growing, we refuse to sell.
“In fact, most cannabis seeds sold in this country are to the fishing industry because they are so full of nutrients they make great bait.”
Mark Cohen, of Golden Harvest in The Forum, said: “We stress it’s illegal to grow them. It’s like a Ferrari showroom selling cars that go at 130mph. It’s not the showroom’s fault if the buyer goes out and speeds.”
The owner of Smokey Sam’s in Castle Market refused to give his name, but said: “We’re not interested, dude.”
Directors of The Single Seed Company, which sells online from a Sheffield storage unit, did not comment.