Updated: May 27
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.
“Lauterbach has expressed confidence that his plans to legalize cannabis will be approved by the EU. Speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, March 14, before a meeting with his EU counterparts, Lauterbach said he had received "very good feedback" from the European Commission. As he had concerns about whether legalization would comply with European law, Lauterbach had his project reviewed by the EU Commission.”
While medical use is permitted, the recreational use of cannabis is subject to restrictions at an international and European level. It will be a positive step if Germany can come to an amicable resolution with the EU Commission on how its legal cannabis framework can work in line with these restrictions. This will benefit other EU States who wish to legalise the recreational use of cannabis while not contravening any EU obligations.
“I’d be very worried if you legalise it. You create a kind of an idea that it's fine,” said Mr Martin. “But I don't think we should criminalise people either; there's a difference between decriminalisation, which I'm in favour of, and making everything legal, but I'm open to the argument.”
Having recently voiced his support for the decriminalisation of drugs, Tánaiste Micheál Martin clarifies his opinion of the full legalisation of cannabis. While a step in the right direction, decriminalisation falls short of full legalisation, the latter being required to generate meaningful employment and tax revenue. A legal market is also necessary to fund and carry out the research and development required to realise the full potential of cannabis.
In a landmark decision, Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation has ruled that growing a small number of cannabis plants at home for personal use, does not constitute a crime
“By applying these criteria, the Court confirmed the harmlessness of the defendant’s behaviour. They acknowledged that the substance found was intended only for personal use, with no indication that the defendant intended to sell or distribute the product. Furthermore, cultivation was limited in scope and carried out using basic methods.”
There are hopes that, as a result of the upcoming Citizens’ Assembly, cannabis use and even small-scale, personal cultivation, will no longer constitute a crime in Ireland.
“There is no way a child can differentiate between a cannabis jelly and a regular jelly. They are packaged to look like sweets. They are extremely colourful, which of course appeals to children. I wonder … It’s very reckless of the producers.”
More negative coverage in the Irish media for cannabis edibles marketed as children’s jellies. On one hand, stories like this negatively impact the cannabis community and its efforts to legitimise itself. On the other, it’s another example of why cannabis products should be legalised and regulated and taken out of the hands of black market producers.
Parents of toddler believed to have eaten cannabis-laced chocolate to stand trial for alleged child cruelty
“The man and woman appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court over allegations that they exposed their young son to the risk of unnecessary suffering or injury. An uncle of the boy is also being prosecuted on charges of possessing Class B drugs and causing or allowing him to be exposed to serious physical harm”.
Further to the risk posed to children who inadvertently consume cannabis products marketed as children’s jellies, there is also legal risks to those who negligently expose children to such situations.
“For some historical context, consider that in 2019 and 2020 Spain reported to the International Narcotics Board that it would cultivate 500 kilos each year. That figure increased in 2021 to a reported 600 kilos. The following year in 2020 the figure grew exponentially to a reported 6,000 kilos. This year’s reported forecast of 23.43 tons compared to just two years ago highlights how fast Spain’s medical cannabis industry is expanding. And yet, it’s not enough. Not even close.”
An insight into the scale of the growth of legal cannabis production in Spain in recent years. It’s interesting that Spain has such a growing market for medical cannabis production, while it does not yet have an official medical cannabis programme.
“Mr Reid will be joined by 99 members of the general public for the Assembly. A campaign to randomly select the members of the public to join the Citizens' Assembly will begin this week.”
Some developments in the upcoming Citizens' Assembly. Some, from the drug policy reform camp, have criticised the appointment of Mr. Reid to chair the Citizens’ Assembly due to his experience working with the HSE. They fear that he might be biased against drug policy liberalisation based on his experience with health services.
Although not a surprise, considering Bacik has vocally supported such a move since 2007, it is positive to see another Irish politician and party voicing its support of drug policy reform. Those voicing some level of support far outweigh those coming out in opposition of the topic.
It is notable that Ms. Bacik, and the Green Party’s stance, is that this reform should go beyond decriminalising cannabis possession. These proposals would allow for the legal sale of cannabis.
“While the UK legalised cannabis for medical purposes in November 2018, laws on recreational use remain some of the strictest in Europe, with cannabis possession punishable by up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine. And yet, the available evidence shows that legalising cannabis would: improve patient access to treatments; combat racial injustice; and boost the economy in this innovative billion-pound field, creating tens of thousands of jobs in the process.”
Having legalised cannabis for medical purposes, its pragmatic approach to Novel Foods Regulations and a growing number of domestic cannabis businesses, many saw the UK as a potential front-runner in Europe’s emerging legal cannabis industry. This sense of optimism has faded with many now fearing that the UK will completely miss the wave of cannabis policy liberalisation that is sweeping across Europe.
“The call for research has been described as a ‘huge step’ by patient advocates, and a sign that regulators are finally recognising the medicinal value of cannabis flower.”
The European approach to medical cannabis differs notably to that in North America. European roll out has been much slower and thought out. This has been to the frustration of some. However, the high bar that Europe has placed on proving the medical benefits of cannabis will be for the benefit of patients, and the industry as a whole, in the long term.
©2023 by The Cannabis Review