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In-Depth Coverage Of The Irish And European Markets

NEWSLETTER | 31 January 2024


 

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

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“The vote in October related to the possession with cannabis was the tightest – 39 people at the assembly opted for a health-led approach on the final count, while 38 opted for legalisation and regulation of cannabis.”


The extent of any cannabis-related legislative reforms following Ireland's Citizens' Assembly on Drug Use remains to be seen. Some hope that these reforms might allow for the establishment of cannabis social clubs in Ireland, similar to those common across Spain and now appearing in other parts of Europe. Such clubs were mentioned in the Justice Committee's drugs policy report, which proposed that research be carried out into the potential for these clubs in Ireland.

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“It comes just days after the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use recommended that the personal possession of drugs be decriminalised, with a special Oireachtas committee now set to examine the report.”


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. However, its debate in the Dáil comes at a convenient time, given its proximity to the discussions following the Citizens' Assembly on Drug Use. Mr. Kenny previously attempted legislative reform for cannabis. That attempt was in respect of medical cannabis access and although it ultimately failed to pass into law, it was followed not long later by the official introduction of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme.

 

Read the full bill here.

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“The HRB study involved a comprehensive review of the existing evidence from across 30 years on the clinical efficacy and safety of prescribed medicinal cannabis in adult patients only, across medical conditions ranging from cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatic diseases, to pain, mental health and neuropsychological conditions.”


Described as a 'study of studies', the comprehensive research by the Health Research Board on medical cannabis in Ireland is a welcome development. This research will benefit genuine patients who rely on cannabis for medicinal purposes. It's encouraging to see a respected Irish medical research body recognise findings that point to benefits of medical cannabis.


Read the full Health Research Board report here.

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Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I drug under US federal law, placing it alongside substances deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy. This classification brings with it various negative consequences for the cannabis industry at the federal level, from restricting access to banking services to limiting research into its potential therapeutic benefits. Given the number of US states that have legalised cannabis for medical use, its reclassification at the federal level has, for some time, been a matter of ‘when’, rather than ‘if’.

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The Czech Republic initially announced plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use, to coordinate with Germany's approach. It now appears that the Czech Republic will adjust its plans to coordinate with Germany's scaled back plans. For those who hoped that the Czech Republic could learn from the challenges Germany encountered with the European Commission, this expectation appears to have now evaporated.

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“A group referring to themselves as Malta’s Cannabis Community alleges that the current 500g limit on dried cannabis flower for CHRA’s ‘directly undermines the operational efficacy of licensed CHRA, effectively crippling their ability to provide essential services to the community within the legal framework’.”


Similar to the 500g limit that Dutch Coffeeshops are permitted to hold on site, Malta’s cannabis community is highlighting practical issues in imposing such a limit as Malta rolls out its own recreational cannabis programme.

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“They argue that the government's proposal insufficiently outlines the expected impacts and consequences of cannabis legalization for law enforcement, regulatory authorities, and public safety … Additionally, the report stresses the need for further clarification and coordination at the state level to address uncertainties and potential challenges posed by the proposed legislation.”


An insight into the type of scrutiny that other EU States may face when putting forward their proposals for the decriminalisation of cannabis.

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Seen by many as Europe’s cannabis capital, on paper Spain is behind some other EU states, including Ireland, when it comes to an official medical cannabis policy. While Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme has been criticised for being too restrictive in the conditions that may be treated under it, as well as its slow roll out and uptake, Spain is yet to roll out its official medical cannabis programme. In reality access to medical cannabis is far more widely available in Spain than in many other parts of Europe.

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In Spain, while cannabis is illegal, cannabis social clubs exist in a legal gray area, permitting members to grow and use cannabis in a private setting. In cities like Barcelona, locals and tourists can gain access to cannabis and communal areas by joining these clubs.

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Recent years have seen a surge in interest in hemp production globally, including in the potential for hempcrete as an environmentally friendly alternative to concrete. The hemp industry has struggled to advance in Ireland due largely to a lack of infrastructure for processing. Positive break throughs in a market as influential as the US, will hopefully lead to a positive knock on effect in other markets.

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©2024 by The Cannabis Review

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