Cannabis company opens its European HQ in south Belfast
A major US cannabis company has set up its European headquarters in Belfast.
Colorado-based Mile High Labs, which is the largest extractor of cannabidiol (CBD) isolate in the world, established its base on the Boucher Road.
CBD is the non-psychoactive element of the cannabis plant, while isolate refers to its purified form.
CBD remains legal in the UK so long as it does not contain THC, the component which produces the cannabis 'high'.
It has become increasingly high profile in Northern Ireland through campaigners such as Co Tyrone woman Charlotte Caldwell, who administers CBD to her son Billy to treat his severe form of epilepsy.
Mile High Labs set up in Northern Ireland towards the end of last year under UK/EU managing director John Wallace.
The company said it had been recruiting staff and described the Belfast base as a low-cost distribution centre for serving the UK and EU markets. Mile High Labs also said that its Northern Ireland branch had lowered its corporate tax rate via the UK patent box system and that it had established a "close relationship" with Invest NI.
"We are very excited to officially launch European operations with our first sales into the UK and EU," said Mr Wallace.
"Having an on-the-ground presence helps us provide the best service and support to current customers in the region, as well as new ones that understand the tremendous opportunity in this burgeoning market."
"Our expansion is a testament to the global consumer demand for CBD," added chief executive Jason Roth.
"Wherever our customers are around the world, we want to support them.
"We are committed to bringing the highest-quality standards to the European CBD market and beyond."
Company finance officer Jon Hilley said: "We are committed to being good stewards within every region we operate and we are thrilled to have the support of Invest NI.
"We are equally committed to making investments that are highly accretive.
"Our expansion plan reinforces the notion that we are thoughtfully deploying our capital in ways that seek to maximise value for all of our stakeholders."