It might seem that the popularization of cannabis and cannabis medicine has been consistent across the world. However, this is not necessarily correct. While Ireland has proven to be a very “green” country in many different respects, it’s definitely lacking when it comes to the cannabis industry.
Cannabis was made illegal in 1934 in the country, but before that, it was actually used frequently in medicine and was often discussed in scientific settings. One of the first figures who popularized cannabis during this time was William O’Shaughnessy, an Irishman.
O’Shaughnessy was a scholar who graduated from the University of Edinburgh and joined the British East India Company in 1833. He became curious about the folklore surrounding cannabis and decided to test the theories for himself. After observing cannabis for several years, he eventually promoted it as a digestive aid, sedative, and pain reliever in certain situations.
Despite O’Shaughnessy’s contributions to the scientific knowledge around cannabis, the compound is still very much illegal in Ireland today. The penalties for being caught with cannabis or resin in Ireland now range from fines of 1000 to 2540 euros for the first two offenses to 1-3 years of jail time for more serious ones. Supplying cannabis for recreational purposes is also wholly illegal, causing a fine of up to 2500 euros and possible long prison sentences depending on the drug and the amount in possession.
When it comes to cultivation, Ireland has strange regulations in the sense that cannabis seeds are legal to buy and sell as long as they aren’t cultivated. However, owning cannabis growing equipment or growing any cannabis plant is illegal and can result in fines or possible jail time.
One new progressive step that Ireland has taken in recent years regarding cannabis is the five-year program they set up for medical cannabis use in June 2019. This unique program is only limited to patients with severe conditions that require cannabis medicine, such as those with epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, or people undergoing cancer treatment. Qualifying patients can obtain their medications for free, and they are available at most local pharmacies across the country. While it is a step in the right direction, hopefully more conditions will be included in the program in the coming years.
What About CBD in Ireland?
The legality of hemp-based products in Ireland is very much a gray area. In order to grow hemp, farmers must obtain a special license from the HPRA. Additionally, growers must follow specific guidelines defined by the EU on extraction methods. Here is where it gets pretty murky.
CBD that is extracted using methods that existed prior to 1997 is permitted. This quirk falls under a law called the Novel Foods act. It includes cold-pressed CBD and CBD extracted using older methods like ethanol extraction. However, CBD derived from more modern extraction methods like supercritical CO2 is not permitted.
Additionally, any CBD sold in Ireland must contain less than 0.2% THC. This is less than the legal allowable amount of 0.3% in the states. CBD derived from marijuana plants is still illegal in the country.