Prevailing attitudes in Ireland still hold cannabis as a dangerous substance, in contrast to the support of strictly-controlled medicinal marijuana.
Despite being known as “The Emerald Isle,” cannabis remains illegal for recreational use in Ireland, while medicinal use has only recently been legalized and approved for specific conditions as a “last resort” treatment. Prevailing attitudes in Ireland still consider the marijuana plant as dangerous, in contrast to the support of strictly-controlled medical cannabis. Nonetheless, personal possession and consumption is treated as a minor offense. But could the Irish be softening their stance on cannabis and be in the early stages of legalization?
Cannabis has been considered an illegal substance in Ireland since 1934, although today the police in Ireland have wide discretion in the enforcement of marijuana possession laws. In 1996, cannabis was made an unscheduled drug, allowing for penalties less harsh than for other substances on the illicit market.
Hemp and CBD, however, are legal in Ireland, and similar to other markets, the CBD rush is happening in Erie as well; one industry expert estimates that CBD could create 80,000 jobs and revitalize moribund rural economies. The cultivation of the cannabis plant for hemp and CBD is strictly controlled, can not be grown alongside public roads or in public view, and cultivators are subject to Garda (police) vetting.
Like CBD and hemp, medical marijuana is legal but strictly regulated, with a five-year pilot program recently signed into law and expected to go into effect soon. The new law allows doctors to prescribe cannabis to their patients to treat specific symptoms arising from multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy, and epilepsy, and only when other methods to abate conditions have proved ineffective. The new program also allows for importation of cannabis, with eyes towards domestic sourcing. In some cases, the cost of cannabis would be covered by the patient’s drug plan.
Like in many western nations where cannabis remains prohibited but largely tolerated, cannabis is not overly difficult to obtain, although its recreational use is more taboo than in Canada, and much of the US and Western Europe. While medicinal marijuana was still under consideration, a group of Irish physicians penned an open letter to the Irish Times warning that the allowing of medicinal use would lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis, characterizing medical marijuana as a “Trojan Horse.”
There seems to be little to suggest Ireland will be legalizing recreational marijuana soon, but a curious legal loophole exists within Irish law; cannabis seeds are legal to sell, buy, and possess, for collecting purposes. Germinating and cultivating cannabis from those same seeds remains illegal however.