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Hamilton Accies strike stadium deal with cannabis oil firm

The club's New Douglas Park will be known as the Hope CBD Stadium starting this season.

By STV News

Published 27 Jul 2018.

An SPFL club has struck a controversial stadium-naming deal with a cannabis oil firm.

Hamilton Academical FC's New Douglas Park will be known as the Hope CBD Stadium starting this season.

It comes months after the club lost nearly £1m in a bank scam and the collapse of its current stadium sponsor, SuperSeal.

The new sponsorship deal will net Accies a five-figure payment per season, as well as a percentage share of the profits from the sale of cannabis-based products.

However, critics have said the move will send out the wrong signal about cannabis in general.

Chief executive Colin McGowan said: "Will there be people out there saying: 'Hamilton Accies are supporting a drug, it's unbelievable...'?

"Yes, you are going to get that. If you get criticism in football, just do anything."

Hope CBD has run a small shop at New Douglas since last year.

The firm sells a range of legal products such as tea, ointments and sweets that contain cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Mr McGowan is the owner and director of the company, which has run a small store within the stadium since last year.

Supporters of CBD claim the substance can alleviate pain and seizures, but experts warn that not enough research has been conducted into its effects.

The club were keen to point out that there is "no high" from CBD.

"I think sometimes when people hear the word 'cannabis', they think of law-breaking or addiction.

"If there was anything of an addictive nature in it, we'd be a hundred miles away from it.

"We are pretty well-known for the work we do in the field of addiction."

Professor Neil McKeganey, director of the Centre of Substance Use Research in Glasgow, described the renaming of New Douglas Park as a "regrettable step".

"In the public mindset, it will be seen as a form of cannabis advertising," he said.

"It's surprising that any football club wants to align itself with the cannabis plant, which is effectively what is happening here, even though CBD is not the bit that gets you high.

"The real worry for me is that it's part and parcel of cannabis becoming much more socially accepted.

"It is a way of normalising it."

Hope CBD markets its products as "food supplements" that can't cure or treat disease.

The World Health Organisation guidance on CBD states that there is some evidence the substance "could have some therapeutic value for seizures due to epilepsy and other conditions".

But it stresses that "more research is needed" and that it "does not recommend cannabidiol for medical use".

The SPFL has been contacted for comment.

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