Irish farmers have been contacting the Irish health department requesting information about the next steps in Irish cannabis legislation. There is the capacity for Ireland to become the next European cannabis hub.
The Executive Secretary of the Irish Farmers Association, Fintan Conway, claimed that Ireland could become a major player in the production of medical cannabis in a letter sent to the Irish Health department.
In the letter he stated that Ireland is well-positioned both geographically and politically to become a serious prospect in the developing international market for CBD oil, industrial hemp and medical cannabis.
The letter made it clear that Mr. Conway believes that for the industry to launch properly in Ireland, the appropriate regulatory framework needs to be implemented. Once suitable legislation is in place and the foundation of a competitive medical cannabis industry is built, there is a serious prospect of significant foreign investment into Ireland.
Recreational cannabis is strictly prohibited in Ireland at this time. The European Commission’s decision to class CBD as a Novel Food has left the CBD industry in Ireland without definitive legislation.
According to the Irish Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabinol and its derivatives are considered to be schedule 1 drugs.
Medical cannabis is legal though, people who are suffering from a chronic pain condition can receive authorisation to use medical cannabis if their application for a medical cannabis prescription is approved by the Minister of Health.
Mr. Conway seemed taken by the idea of purchasing cannabis seeds from outside of the EU, with the idea that this would result in a higher quality of crop. These seeds are not currently available for EU farmers and Mr. Conway stated that he believes that using these seeds would give Irish cannabis producers a distinct advantage.
Using current hemp flower CBD content of 3-5%, an Irish farmer could feasibly expect to achieve in the region of €5,000 per tonne of flower. If Ireland were to permit significantly higher strains of cannabis with a greater CBD content while respecting the less than 0.2% of THC rule but having a CBD content of 15%, revenue from growing the crop would treble.
While the current policy in Ireland does not permit this kind of cultivation, it seems like a tremendous opportunity for the many farmers in Ireland if the law change is to transpire. It is vital that campaigners for cannabis legislation changes work to convince The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) that this is a viable strategy for the country. The most sensible next steps would surely to be to try to get a pilot scheme approved, this would allow the authorities to properly assess to viability of the opportunity.
Ireland has the opportunity to become a hub for cannabis cultivation, in a similar fashion to how Malta has become an integral hub for the processing of cannabis products destined for the European medical markets, especially Germany. It is a proposal that must be reviewed and given a fair chance to illustrate the potential benefits a change in the law could have.