New Zealand: Hemp smoothie ads pulled over drug slogans

A tractor cutting hemp Image copyright AP
Image caption Hemp can be cultivated in New Zealand but its use in food is strictly regulated

A New Zealand sandwich shop is in hot water over adverts for a hemp smoothie which played on the plant's association with marijuana.

The Habitual Fix chain has been told to remove its advertising for the drink, which included slogans like "Just ask your dealer" and "Don't panic, we also do munchies", the New Zealand Herald reports. The smoothies, which contain hemp oil, cucumber, mint, yoghurt and apple juice, were being sold in a cup emblazoned with a cannabis leaf and were advertised as having positive health benefits, the website says. Now the Ministry of Primary Industries has told the company to remove all drug references and health claims from the adverts.

The chain's owner says the aim was to provoke a debate about hemp and to show customers that is isn't the same as its close relative, marijuana. "A lot of people don't know the difference so we wanted to create an opportunity to talk about it," Tim Benest is quoted as saying. While both are species of cannabis plant, hemp has almost no THC - the chemical which gives marijuana users a high. Licensed hemp cultivation and the sale of its oil is legal in New Zealand, but all other hemp-derived products are banned in food. Growers have been trying to change that for some time and say the plant's seeds have many nutritional benefits.

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