The Body Shop never received government clearance to import its hemp products, the Customs and Excise Department claimed last night, despite company insistence it had contacted appropriate departments. A spokesman said no government department received an application from the cosmetic chain for a licence to import the beauty products, made with hemp seed oil. But Body Shop Hong Kong general manager Marcus Tancock said the company phoned all appropriate government departments before bringing in the hemp products and was told there was no need for a licence. The company took its hemp products off the shelves on Friday night after authorities ruled they contained cannabinol and tetrahydro-cannabinol, both marijuana derivatives. Describing the case as 'a huge misunderstanding', Mr Tancock said that in Cantonese hemp and marijuana were the same word. The Narcotics Division has assured people who bought the products they would not be prosecuted. Those who purchased the products may have technically breached the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, but the amount of cannabinol and tetrahydro-cannabinol in the products was low and unlikely to be abused, a spokesman said. 'As the products were bought in good faith, to take further action against consumers would be a disproportionate response.' Mr Tancock said the Body Shop would campaign for a change in Hong Kong laws. Describing a Consumer Council warning to customers to avoid the products as irresponsible, Mr Tancock said that few people had returned the hemp oil skincare items. 'There has been a serious misunderstanding here. There are other places selling hemp tea and so on but we've been hit very hard.'