19th May 2021
By Roland Sebestyén
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People in Ireland overwhelmingly support medical cannabis use, while almost half of the country would love to see recreational use be allowed soon.

A new poll recently published in The Journal has found that an astonishing 93% are in favour of medical cannabis use in Ireland. At the same time, according to the poll, almost 40% believed that “cannabis should be legalised for recreational use.”

It is also reported that 56% of those in the 18-34 group support recreational cannabis legalisation in the country.

Although it sounds promising, the paper reminds us that on the courtesy of Ireland’s strict cannabis regulation medical cannabis use is still not legal.

Medical cannabis, according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, listed cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol, and its derivatives as schedule 1 drugs.

While cannabis-based products were made available through the Medical Cannabis Access Programme, it is only available to patients with a number of special conditions, such as spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, nausea associated with chemotherapy and treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The programme, however, is not available to those suffering from chronic pain as officials said cannabis use for the condition might “lead to greater misuse” of cannabis in the wider community.

When the programme was introduced, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly said: “Ultimately it will be the decision of the medical consultant, in consultation with their patient, to prescribe a particular treatment, including a cannabis-based treatment, for a patient under their care.”

Some people, organisations and campaigners have tried to take on the government and push them towards reform in the last few years.

A few months ago, we reported that Irish farmers got in touch with the Health Department as they believe Ireland has everything to be Europe’s next big player on the medical cannabis market.

In a letter to Marie Egan, a pharmacist in the medicines, controlled drugs and pharmacy section in the Health Department, Fintan Conway, Executive Secretary at Irish Farmers Association, said: “Ireland is well-positioned geographically and politically to become a major player in the developing international market for industrial hemp, CBD oil and medicinal cannabis.

“However, in order for the crop and the industry to realise its full production and economic potential, the proper regulatory framework needs to be put in place.”

Mr Conway said Ireland was able to purchase cannabis seeds outside the EU, which would, according to him, serve as a golden opportunity for businesses in the cannabis industry across the country.

He added: “These seeds are currently not available to EU farmers. Following such a path would give Irish producers a significant competitive advantage.

“Based on current hemp flower CBD content of 3-5% CBD, a farmer could expect to achieve approximately €5,000 per tonne of the flower.

“Were Ireland to approve varieties with a much higher CBD content — while respecting the 0.3% THC limit — of up to 15%, this would potentially treble returns.”

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