With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, everyone is getting in touch with their Irish side. Even those who aren’t technically Irish tend to celebrate the holiday – Guinness all around! So, while we’re wearing green, we may as well talk about it too: Irish cannabis law in the Emerald Isle.
Just as in America, Irish pot laws are progressing
They’re not quite on par with us, yet: they’ve only recently began the process of legalizing medical marijuana but haven’t yet discussed the recreational aspects. Irish citizens may be ready for the latter: according to The Journal, nearly half of Irish voters support legislation of cannabis for personal recreational use - 48 percent were for it, 41 percent against it, and the remainder undecided (for comparison’s sake, Pew research reports that 57 percent of Americans favor nationwide recreational legalization while 37 percent oppose it). While recreational doesn’t appear to be on Ireland’s horizon (at least not anytime soon), medicinal cannabis is finally becoming a thing. And it was a long time coming.
The Tale of Sativex
Ireland has toyed with the idea of medical marijuana before: in spring of 2013, they passed a law that allowed individuals with MS to take Sativex, a GW Pharmaceuticals drug that contains cannabis. However, despite the passage, this law never took widespread effect. The problem lied in the price: the Department of Health and the drug’s manufacturer could not reach an agreement. Some people were able to procure it, but at a cost that didn’t make long-term use feasible.
Until now, Sativex has been the only type of medicinal marijuana legal in Ireland
There have been cases of people successfully arguing their side. Per Sensi Seeds, James Walsh, a citizen arrested for growing cannabis and given a two-year sentence, saw his punishment suspended after he showed that his operation was purely for medicinal use. Part of his argument was that cannabis helped him get off heroin, which he was previously addicted to.
In December of last year, Irish legislators passed a bill to make cannabis legal for medical purposes. According the Independent, this bill seeks to legalize and regulate cannabis for anyone suffering from MS, cancer, fibromyalgia, and those living in chronic pain. It gives doctors the ability to decide for themselves whether any of their patients would benefit from cannabis. The bill was passed in Ireland’s lower house without a vote. It now passes to the committee stage where it falls into the hands of Simon Harris, the health minister. He’s likely to make changes in an attempt to assure this bill doesn’t accidentally legalize recreational weed as well. The bill came to be despite Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority’s insistence that there is weak scientific evidence that speaks to the health benefits of cannabis. The agency concluded that there was “an absence of scientific data demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis products.” They went on to warn against its potential dangers, stating
“(there’s) insufficient information on the safety during long-term use for the treatment of chronic medical conditions”
Based on their conclusions, one could argue that their research was either flawed or incomplete. But, of course, that is a large problem with cannabis research – because the drug remains widely illegal, it’s difficult to study. The research is expensive, bureaucratic, and too much of a pain in the bud for many scientists. Still, there are several, several studies that attest to the health benefits of cannabis. You can out more here, here, and here. While the HPRA might not think that cannabis is the equivalent of a pot of gold, they did admit that it wasn’t up to them to deal with law and stated that marijuana legalization was outside their jurisdiction; rather, the decision was up to the government and Ireland’s citizens. And so, that’s what they’ve decided: if medical cannabis can help people get better (or simply feel better), it’s worth it. It won’t be without scrutiny, though: the new laws will run for a five year term with constant monitoring by health service experts. Ireland has also tossed around the idea of decriminalizing harder drugs, like heroin and cocaine, when people possess them for personal use. Many police officers supported the idea, believing it would free up much needed resources and allow them to pursue far more serious crimes. It appears that this wide-spread acceptance of drugs won’t happen anytime soon, but that isn’t stopping people from getting creative. Some politicians have lobbied for “safe injection” rooms in Dublin, the solution to syringe disposal. Each year, around 1,500 used needles are picked up off the streets.
Medical Cannabis in other Countries
Ireland isn’t the only country whose medical marijuana policies are changing. Mexico and Germany are two of the bigger countries on the brink of legalizing cannabis for medical use. Even the United Kingdom, where it remains illegal, possesses a government not all that interested in punishing people unless they’re being obvious about breaking the law.
Most people aren’t overt at all: they do their dealings out of public view
In fact, as shown on WEEDIQUETTE featured on VICELAND, marijuana growers risk their freedom by giving away thousands of pounds of pot each year to people who use it for health issues.
St. Patrick’s Day and Marijuana
Now that the heavy legal stuff is out of the way, let’s get back to the fun stuff! While St. Patrick’s Day may be traditionally known as a “beer me” holiday, there’s always room in the taverns and tap house for some marijuana (metaphorically speaking…if you’re going to smoke pot inside a tavern, find a broom closet). Some strains worth trying include: Pot of Gold: Obviously, it’s the name of the strain that makes it list-worthy. But it is a heavy indica, so only use it if you’re ready to chill out. If you live downtown and can’t sleep because of all the shenanigans going on outside, use this to help you relax. Golden Tiger: A sativa dominant, this is a very potent strain that’s not recommended for new users. Those with tolerance find that it offers a psychedelic experience. Smoke it and see a leprechaun. Green Crack: Users who smoke this strain report increased energy and a fun trip. It’s a good daytime strain, which makes it ideal if you’re heading out early for any St. Patty’s events. Smoke em if you got em….and then shamrock and roll.