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Our round up of the recent headlines of interest...
Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) has been criticised for, among other things, being too restrictive in the conditions that are permitted to be treated under it. A noteworthy omission being chronic pain, one of the conditions most widely treated using medical cannabis.
While certain conditions might be excluded from the MCAP, access to cannabis to treat all conditions remains available under a licence granted by the Minister for Health. Patients in Ireland have had access to cannabis through the ministerial licence route since before the MCAP was introduced.
As part of a wider report, the Oireachtas Justice Committee has recommended that Ireland examine a cannabis social club model (similar to that as seen across Spain) and permit a level of cannabis cultivation. The report noted that ‘decriminalisation is pursued in line with emerging international best practice’ showing that attention is being paid to the global movement towards cannabis policy reform.
Decriminalisation falls short of full legalisation and regulation (as seen in Canada). Decriminalisation is viewed by some as a more attractive approach. Individuals are not criminalised for consuming or cultivating their own cannabis, while not opening the market to ‘big money’ companies. Others argue that a legal market is necessary to fund and carry out the research and development required to realise the full potential of cannabis, at a medical and recreational level.
Read the full report here.
Almost simultaneously with Ireland’s recent drug policy report, the EU has released a similar updated drugs policy paper. Some have pointed out that this echoes previous sentiment expressed by the EU, which has led to little change in practice. Its timing is convenient given Germany's upcoming move to pull away from the status quo in respect of the EU’s current position on the recreational use of drugs.
Read the full updated policy paper here.
Yet another positive report in the cannabis space, this time from the UN and in respect of hemp. The report examines hemp at a ‘full plant’ level, including seed, fibre, cannabinoids and carbon sequestration.
At a national level, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s recent report regarding the Irish market for hemp fibre has been seen by some Irish stakeholders as being overly pessimistic towards the potential for the industry in Ireland. Others see it as a realistic representation of the Irish hemp fibre industry as it stands today. The UN report will be some consolation for those who were disappointed with the findings of the DAFM.
Read the full UN report here.
Read the full Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine report here.
With the Irish Government so firm on its stance regarding its outright ban on THC, the High Court decision in this case was unlikely to see the conclusion of this matter, with the losing side destined to appeal the High Court’s decision.
Further details around the EU Commission’s investigation are limited so it is too early to determine its extent or how seriously it is being pursued.
“the Council of State – the body that advises the government on legislation and acts as a supreme court for administrative justice – ruled that a general and absolute ban on the marketing of the substance in its raw state was 'disproportionate'.”
While the outcome of similar cases in Ireland is far from over, the legality of hemp flower has received a positive update in France. It is worth noting that in Germany the opposite was concluded recently. This recent French move will be of benefit to anyone making similar arguments in front of national courts across Europe. As with the Kanavape case, these matters seem destined to be ultimately settled in front of the Court of Justice of the European Union.
“As it currently stands, it is expected that early next year a legalization bill will be formally introduced in Germany. However, prior to that happening Germany’s government will continue to seek approval from the European Union, a strategy that some German lawmakers are pushing back on via their calls to introduce a measure by the end of this calendar year.”
One of the key issues faced by EU States seeking to legalise the recreational use of cannabis is potentially breaching EU regulations in doing so. It is positive to see Germany determined to push ahead with its proposed timeline. It would be a further benefit if any issues at the European level could be resolved in tandem, providing clarity on the implications at the European level for individual States seeking to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.
As Its Neighbours Seek Legalisation, Poland’s Medical Cannabis & Hemp Industry Could Also Flourish Next Year
“Though the Polish parliament’s working group for the legalisation of cannabis is thought to have little chance of pushing any legislation through, Poland already has one of Europe’s largest medical cannabis markets, and earlier this year made legislative changes set to ‘have a significant impact on the development’ of its cannabis market.”
As German legalisation is expected to have a knock-on effect, with other EU States expected to follow in its footsteps, here is a good overview of the Polish cannabis market.
"For decades, the federal government has stood in the way of science and progress—peddling a misguided and discriminatory approach to cannabis. Today marks a monumental step in remedying our federal cannabis laws. The Medical Marijuana and Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act will make it easier to study the impacts and potential of cannabis".
While there is no indication of a change in President Biden’s stance on the legalisation of cannabis at a federal level, this recent move is more positive news coming during his first term in office.
“But nearly four years later, the picture in the industry is bleak. Cannabis stocks have crashed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange following disappointing financial results and the flight of the famous figures who had backed the sector. Cannabis companies are now abandoning the industry in favor of other activities, usually in the field of real estate.”
Known for being a pioneer in the cannabis industry, this is a sobering look at the issues faced by some Israeli cannabis companies. Having paved the way with research into cannabis and cannabinoids, combined with its high consumption rate and relatively warm attitude towards cannabis, this further highlights the teething pains faced by the emerging cannabis industry on a global level. While some have shown promise, we are yet to see a jurisdiction produce a viable legal and regulated cannabis market.
©2022 by The Cannabis Review