Irish Farmers Association pushes for legalization of medicinal cannabis
Ireland has a golden opportunity to become a "major player" in the production of medicinal cannabis on an industrial scale, the farming community has told the government. An official from the Irish Farmers Association has declared to the Department of Health that Ireland could follow the United States and Canada in the production of industrial hemp, CBD oil and medicinal cannabis if the laws were changed.
Irish Farmers Association discusses possibility of changing Irish law
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) is urging the Irish government to introduce legislation that would allow farmers to produce medicinal cannabis. Sunday Times reports that Fintan Conway, an executive secretary of IFA, emailed Marie Egan, a pharmacist with the Irish Department of Health, to request a meeting between the two organizations to discuss how hemp could be used to produce medicinal cannabis.
Conway told Egan in the email that Ireland has the potential "to become a major player in the developing international market for industrial hemp, CBD oil and medicinal cannabis."
He added that the national agricultural body Teagasc had found Ireland's temperate climate and soil type to be ideal for large-scale hemp production.
Conway also told Egan, who works with the Medicines, Controlled Drugs and Pharmacy section of the Department of Health, that appropriate regulations must be in place so that hemp production can reach its full potential in Ireland.
He said allowing farmers to grow plants with higher CBD content would allow hemp production to reach its potential. CBD oil is used in medicinal cannabis, and Ireland currently allows hemp flowers with 3-5% CBD.
Mr Conway argued that allowing the cultivation of hemp plants with a CBD content of 15% would triple the incomes of Irish farmers, who currently receive around € 5 per tonne of flowers.
He also called for some flexibility when it comes to THC, the psychoactive component of hemp.
“Under Irish law, if CBD products or preparations contain even trace amounts of THC, they are considered controlled drugs. In order to develop the industry in Ireland, legislation should be changed to exempt end products with a THC content of 0,3 percent or less, ”Mr Conway wrote in the email.
Meanwhile, IFA horticultural expert Pat Farrell appeared at the Newstalk Breakfast on Friday, October 16 to discuss in more detail the cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Ireland.
He echoed Mr Conway's calls to increase legal THC levels to 0,3% and legal CBD levels to 15%.
"What we want is for you to be able to grow cannabis plants, but their THC content to be less than 0,3% and their CBD content to be limited to 15% or more."
Farell has said the production of medicinal cannabis will be tightly restricted as it seeks to allay fears that it will be used recreationally. He said the Irish agricultural sector has shrunk by around 20% since 2012 and farmers are looking for alternative methods to increase their incomes.
“We're always looking for alternative markets or niches and hemp is one of them,” he said.
The Irish government is studying the possibility of legalizing medicinal cannabis in one form or another. Former health minister Simon Harris introduced a législation in 2018 which would operate a medicinal cannabis program on a pilot basis for five years to explore the feasibility of legalizing the product.