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Vai zinājāt, ka sugu skaita ziņā kukaiņi Latvijā pārspēj visus citus dzīvniekus?

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Vai vēsturiskā bruģa glabātavas ir viens no Rīgas lielākajiem noslēpumiem?

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Latvian hemp candy lands traveller in trouble

An attempt to take a harmless Latvian candy to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has resulted in a hefty fine for an unwary international traveller, reports Latvian Television's 'Studio 4' show.

A viewer named Daina gave an acquaintance visiting his parents in the UAE a selection of 'Gotiņa' fudge candies manufactured by the Skrīveru saldumi company as a gift.

After flying from Rīga to Abu Dhabi with a transfer in Copenhagen, the acquaintance got into serious trouble.

Daina recounted: "When arriving in Abu Dhabi, the airport employee was checking the baggage, the contents of this package seemed suspicious, because through the small, transparent box of the package, he noticed candies with green hemp leaves, which was followed by detention."

The airport employee opened the package and, finding three candies with the design of hemp leaves, concluded that they contained hemp seeds and classified it as an attempt to bring narcotics into the country. Taking into account the weight of these three candies, a heavy fine of 3,000 dirhams or 765 euros was applied. If there was no money to pay the fine, or if there were more of these candies, then the punishment would be even more severe - a year in prison.

A representative of the Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) Māris Eiklons explained that in the European Union it is allowed to use hemp seeds, oil pressed from the seeds, hemp seed flour in food, and hemp leaves for tea.

"When traveling, a person should familiarize himself with the laws of the country, the regulations of the country to which a person is traveling. In addition, we know that both some Arab countries and Asian countries are the ones that look extremely strictly at things related to the possible the presence of narcotics," Eiklons said.

It should be pointed out that hemp seeds are ingredients of many Latvian dishes, including famous hemp butter. Though this does occasionally attract chuckles from those who associate hemp only with puffing on a joint, these hemp products have no psychoactive properties at all. Hemp has been an important Latvian crop for centuries, pre-dating stoner culture quite comfortably and hempen ropes from this part of the world equipped many of the world's navies. 

The company "Skrīveru saldumi" does not see it bears any responsibility in this situation, because all the ingredients used in the production of candies are indicated on the product packaging.

"Currently, the European Union has a known history of safe use in food and the following food products and plant parts obtained from seed hemp can be used. Our advice to the customer before traveling outside the European Union is to find out and make sure about the products and their composition, which can and cannot be taken on the trip selected country. We are very sorry for the situation!" said Skrīveru saldumi's Sintija Ikauniece.

How would Latvian customs officials act if a traveler from the United Arab Emirates had a similar package in his luggage, only the ingredients were not indicated in Latvian?

"If we found such a product, we would definitely take all risk-mitigating measures so that we are sure that it either contains or does not contain a prohibited substance. We have different methods – we have an express test, we have spectrometers, we also have canine experts with working dogs. And accordingly we have to do everything possible to either confirm or disprove our suspicions," said Linna Mukāne of the Latvian Customs Service.

A package on which a hemp leaf is visible, no matter from which country and to which country it was brought, would certainly generate interest among customs officials everywhere. Therefore, it should be expected that such packaging will be opened and the product checked.

"When flying to any country, we have to think about what we are taking with us and why we are taking it with us, and whether it is prohibited," said Mukāne.



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