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In-Depth Coverage Of The Irish And European Markets

NEWSLETTER | 31 October 2023

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


“It’s something I’ve been trying to work on in the Republic of Ireland for many years. However, the Department of Health is resistant to it and the UK legislation is some way ahead. I’ve been fighting with the Department of Health to try and open this up in the Republic for about six years.”

Ireland is noticeably behind the UK when it comes to non-hemp cannabis cultivation. Irish legislation does provide a mechanism for cannabis cultivation, it’s the same mechanism that the Minister for Health uses when granting ministerial licences for access to medical cannabis and licences to cultivate hemp. As pointed out in this article, convincing the Minister to use this power to grant licences for non-hemp cannabis cultivation remains a hurdle yet to be overcome.


“We were asked to vote on legalisation, but few experts were put forward to argue for legalising cannabis. Legalising cannabis was defeated by one vote. What a complete bombshell that would have been — although I believe the majority in the room probably weren’t in favour of full legalisation.”

It's worth noting that the recommendations of a Citizens' Assembly aren't binding. There is still cause for optimism that legislative amendments, that are expected to follow the Citizens' Assembly, will see at least some relaxing of the laws related to cannabis in Ireland.


“Six kgs of the drug were discovered in two separate parcels originating from Switzerland, and both were destined for an address in Co Waterford.”

The postal service has been a utilised method of transport for cannabis, and other drugs, into the Irish market for some time. Sources such as North America, Africa and other parts of Europe, where cannabis production is more widespread, are often the sources of this cannabis. Although somewhat known for its relatively relaxed approach to cannabis, it is interesting to see Switzerland being the source of this haul as it is not typically known as a source for cannabis sold in the Irish market.


“In an effort to stop the bill in its tracks before getting to the point of launching a legal challenge, Mr Holetschek submitted a plenary motion in the Bundesrat ‘that will completely reject the draft law’.”

Germany’s coalition government's plans to regulate cannabis for recreational use continues onwards after some expected pushback from domestic law makers. These new plans are a noticeable scale back from what was initially announced as part of Germany’s cannabis legalisation plans. Possession of 25 grams of cannabis, approved home cultivation and access to not-for-profit cannabis cultivation clubs, as will be provided for under the new rules, remain attractive for German cannabis consumers.


“Officials in Malta have issued the European Union’s first two licenses to not-for-profit associations to legally grow and distribute marijuana, according to the leader of the country’s Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis (ARUC). It’s an example of the nation’s cautious first steps toward legal distribution of the drug after becoming the first EU nation to formally end prohibition in 2021.”

Malta never proposed to fully legalise and regulate its recreational cannabis market. Instead, it went with the decriminalised approach, similar to what Germany has settled on for now. It's positive to see Malta’s programme continue to progress at a steady pace.


For consumers, the legalisation of recreational cannabis in Canada has been a welcome move. It offers consumers the option access to regulated cannabis products, while the black market remains the option that it was before legalisation. For businesses and investors who entered the space it has, for the most part, been an unsuccessful venture. From plummeting share prices to huge amounts of legal cannabis being destroyed, positive news stories have been few and far between in the Canadian recreational cannabis space.

European cannabis stakeholders have the benefit of learning from Canada’s mistakes when entering Europe's emerging cannabis market. They will also have the benefit of a larger market to supply when EU States eventually fully open up their recreational cannabis markets, as is expected to happen in due course.


One issue faced by Irish hemp businesses is access to investment funding to expand their operations. Enterprise Ireland has, for now, ceased investing in CBD businesses (and hemp in general) due to regulatory uncertainty in the space, with institutional investors generally holding back for similar reasons.

One solution, with a proven track record, is equity crowdfunding. We are yet to see a crowdfunding raise involving an Irish cannabis company, or through an Irish crowdfunding platform. Seedrs, one of the UK’s largest equity crowdfunding platforms, has proven to be a successful source of investment for cannabis related companies.


“Last week, in a “surprise” reversal the FSA dropped the recommended daily limit of CBD from 70 mg to 10 mg. This was unexpected, disappointing and confusing – especially given that proven efficacy in studies is significantly higher than 10mg.”

This announcement has come as an unwelcome move from within the UK CBD industry and met with similar reaction from CBD stakeholders across Europe. Although not legally enforceable, recommendations like this will cause retailers to be more hesitant in stocking CBD products.


Having initially removed some products from its shelves, following the FSAI’s recent revised recommended daily limit of CBD, Holland & Barrett has since reversed this move. Holland & Barret has become a well-known high street chain for stocking hemp and CBD products. The announcement of its removal of these products was seen as a sign of issues to come in the CBD space. While the reinstatement is a positive sign, it highlights the regulatory uncertainty surrounding the industry and the potential impact it can have in bringing products to market.


“The Pilot Programme allows all doctors in Denmark to prescribe without the need for specialisation, specific training, or special certification. Any doctor can prescribe for any condition they consider relevant. There’s no limitation on what indication is targeted.”

Access to medical cannabis in Denmark differs from that under Ireland’s medical cannabis access programme (MCAP) in that under the MCAP only medical consultants may prescribe a specified list of cannabis-based products to patients who have not responded to standard treatments, and only to treat specific medical conditions. For patients who don't fit within the criteria of the MCAP, consultants can still apply for a licence from the Minister for Health to prescribe cannabis to their patients. These constraints have been blamed for the lack of access to medical cannabis in Ireland, which remains noticeably low.


©2023 by The Cannabis Review

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