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In-Depth Coverage Of The Irish And European Markets

NEWSLETTER | 30 November 2023


Our round up of the recent headlines of interest from the Irish and European cannabis markets.

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“Medicann, the award winning medicinal cannabis clinic is launching the first clinic in Ireland, and are now accepting patients who wish to know if they are eligible for treatment with this natural medication. The new clinic covers all conditions treatable with medicinal cannabis, and not just those recognised by the Medical Cannabis Access Programme in Ireland.”


The low numbers of patients accessing medical cannabis in Ireland has been blamed on a number of factors, including a lack of doctors willing to prescribe it. Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme is also restrictive in only allowing certain conditions to be treated under it. The opening of clinics like these will surely help greater numbers of patients access medical cannabis in Ireland.

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“And while many of these patients – over 30,000 – have been able to access this treatment it has come at a cost. Mostly financial, but often an emotional and societal cost too.”


While the UK’s roll out of its medical cannabis programme has been criticised, including due to the poor reimbursements rate of patient’s costs, the number of patients accessing cannabis in the UK highlights just how low access in Ireland is. In Ireland, patients can access cannabis through two routes, the first being by ministerial licence, the second being through the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP). Recent numbers show the total uptake across these two routes has been just over 120 patients. In saying that, patients that access cannabis through the MCAP or ministerial licence have greater access to reimbursement for the costs compared with those in the UK.

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The courts’ role is not to write laws but rather to apply the laws already in place . In saying that, a particular court’s handling of certain offences can have a significant impact on how that offence is dealt with going forward.


It would be interesting to see the outcome if someone were to argue that laws prohibiting an individual’s right to cultivate cannabis, particularly for personal and medical use, breached their right to privacy, as was successfully argued in respect of the use of contraception years ago. While the courts’ role and procedures differ across jurisdictions, it would not be the first time in Europe that an argument like this was successful.

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While the UK’s policy makers have displayed more of a prohibitionist approach to recreational cannabis use recently, Northern Ireland remains welcoming to the benefits of medical cannabis. For some, it is hard to believe that rural Antrim would be home to a lounge where patients can consume their prescribed medical cannabis.

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“The EU Drug Market: Cannabis report, released by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and Europol, also warns cannabis products were becoming more potent and diverse.”


The cannabis market in Ireland has undoubtedly changed significantly in the last 20 years. Traditionally, Irish consumers purchased low quality Moroccan ‘soapbar’ hash from a friend of a friend. In today’s Irish cannabis market, consumers have access to a higher quality and a wider variety of products, from vapes, edibles, extracts, and cannabis / hashish products from as far away as North America. These products can also be easily accessed through online vendors and those found on social media channels.

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Cannabis edible products have received a lot of negative press in the Irish media in recent months. These headlines have brought attention due to these products being marketed as children’s sweets. Up until recently, little distinction was made between, potentially more harmful, synthetic cannabinoids and naturally occurring ones such as THC. It is positive to see the media making this differentiation and educating, otherwise uneducated, readers on the difference.

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“Hexahydrocannabinol (HHC), a semi-synthetic cannabinoid, is chemically similar to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive substance in cannabis and it is now available to buy in some vape shops.”


HHC has swept across Europe in recent months. Up until recently, stories of negative reactions to cannabis sweets were more common in the Irish media. Vapes are now catching attention too. It is positive to see this article differentiating between synthetic cannabinoids and naturally occurring ones.

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In 2020, the Government of Jersey issued the first licenses for commercial cultivation of medicinal cannabis in the Channel Islands. This initiative is part of a broader effort to diversify Jersey's rural economy and establish a regulated medicinal cannabis industry. This is not to say that some businesses from Jersey that entered the markets for cannabis based medical and wellness products have not run into issues.

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This bill, as is generally the case with 'private members' bills (legislation proposed by TDs other than those in government), is likely to fail to be passed into law. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see the reception it receives, particularly following the recent Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use and the results of the citizens’ vote on the legalisation of cannabis.

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©2023 by The Cannabis Review

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