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In-Depth Coverage Of The Irish And European Markets

NEWSLETTER | 30 June 2023

We read all the news, so you don’t have to. Our round up of the recent headlines of interest from the Irish and European cannabis markets.


“A second well-placed source said they understood there is no ‘interest’ from the EC in punishing Germany but now that cannabis had moved up the pecking order in terms of regulatory priorities it would prefer a slower development pace.”

Potential repercussions from the European Commission (EC) are one of the main blockers for EU States who wish to legalise their national recreational cannabis markets. While medical use is permitted, the recreational use of cannabis is subject to restrictions at an international and European level. While details are limited, for now, these updates are cause for optimism for those who hoped Germany would open the floodgates for fully legalised and regulated recreational cannabis market across the EU.


“An overwhelming 80pc of those surveyed would support the legalisation of cannabis for medical use, with an additional 56pc willing to prescribe the drug if it were legal to do so. Regarding the conditions for which they would prescribe cannabis, the most common response was pain management, followed by epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, anxiety, and depression.”

One of the issues with Irish patients’ access to medical cannabis is the lack of doctors who have, to date, been willing to prescribe it. It’s encouraging to see that the majority of doctors who took part in this survey are willing to do so. It’s also positive to see pain management mentioned as one of the conditions that they would be willing to prescribe it for. Despite pain management being one of the most common conditions cannabis is used to treat, it is omitted as a condition treatable under the Medical Cannabis Access Programme. Access, to treat this condition, has been obtained through the ministerial licence route.


An interesting project using equity crowdfunding to fund its expansion. Equity crowdfunding has proven to be a successful avenue for those seeking investment in the cannabis space in the UK. While there has been some high profile investments in other EU States, notably Germany, institutional investors have remained mostly cautious, if not uninterested, in the cannabis space in the UK and Ireland. Seedrs provides members of the public the opportunity to partake in such investments.


While there is little publicly available information regarding the Food Safety Authority of Ireland's (FSAI) stance on hemp tea (produced from the dried leaf and flowers of the hemp plant), its previous statements suggest that it would not consider hemp tea as a novel food, presuming its cannabinoid content has not been purified or concentrated during its production process.

It is worth noting that under Irish law, any part of the cannabis plant other than the seeds and stalk are prohibited under the Misuse of Drugs Act. This means that while not on the radar of the FSAI (who do not enforce drugs laws in Ireland), hemp tea is as illegal as other forms of cannabis. Hemp tea products may still fall foul of the FSAI due to the presence of excessive quantities of THC in their products.


While the market for low-THC cannabis flower has suffered setbacks in the national courts of some EU States, including Ireland and Germany, the future looks bright for the Italian market. There is hope among stakeholders that positive results like these seen in Italy in recent times will spill over into other EU States.

While statistics aren’t readily publicly available, store owners who sell 'cannabis light' products in Ireland, among other CBD products, report that cannabis light products is their best seller, with the market for CBD oil having plateaued in recent years.


The Czech Republic was quick to announce its intention to follow Germany in legalising and regulating its recreational cannabis market. Germany’s announcement of its scaled back plans has resulted in some uncertainty around the Czech Republic’s approach going forward. Learning from Germany’s experience and gauging on how best to approach the European Commission is a sensible approach which will hopefully provide insight into on how to best legalise and regulate a national cannabis market within the EU.


Malta’s approach to legalising cannabis differs from the proposed approaches of EU States such as Germany and the Czech Republic. While the latter propose to fully legalise and regulate their markets, Malta is following the decriminalisation route where cannabis associations will operate on a not-for-profit basis.

In its recent drugs policy report, the Oireachtas Justice Committee recommended that further research be carried out into the potential benefits and drawbacks of such clubs if introduced in Ireland. Irish would-be cannabis stakeholders should take note of the successes and hurdles that Malta will encounter when rolling out its programme.


“In the EU, GMP certification has long been considered essential for the final processing steps of medical cannabis products intended to be used to treat patients anywhere in the European market. Certification is not only seen as key to sell products in the market, but also is often considered as all but essential for budding cannabis operators to secure investment.”

One aspect of supplying medical cannabis to the European market, sometimes overlooked by non-European producers, is the burdensome EU good manufacturing practice (GMP) certification process. Here we see a way for cultivators to bypass this step, passing it on to producers.


The medical cannabis markets in some of the British crown dependencies continue to expand. Media coverage to date has mostly focused on cultivation projects. Here we see that in Guernsey, access to medical cannabis is also notably higher than in Ireland.


“The Crown Dependency, viewed by many prominent UK medical cannabis operators as a vital ‘case study’, showcasing how potentially lucrative the industry could be in the UK, is now understood to be developing a new ‘strategic development plan.”

Those hoping that Ireland will welcome cannabis production as a new potential boost of gross domestic product (GDP) are likely in for disappointment. Unlike some countries across Europe who see medical cannabis production as a new alternative to grow GDP, Ireland’s notable GDP contributors, such as tech and pharmaceuticals, overshadow, in policymakers' eyes, any potential economic uplift from a domestic cannabis production market.


©2023 by The Cannabis Review

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