Thursday March 26 2015 08:45 AM
Medical Cannabis remains illegal in Ireland despite government promises
An Irish healthcare company has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds to lobby the Irish government to change the laws on medical cannabis.
GreenLight Health, a medical cannabis research and development firm, based in Co. Dublin, will campaign to legalise medical cannabis in Ireland so it can produce cannabis medicines.
Currently, those who use cannabis to relieve medical conditions face criminalisation, a €2,750 fine and up to 12 months in prison for a second offense.
“The situation in Ireland at present is unacceptable,” says Dr James Linden, MD of GreenLight Health. “We know from speaking to people with MS, for example, that they are crying out for cannabis-based medicines to relieve their symptoms.
“We can produce a medicine, specifically tailored for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients, yet the laws still state that the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession of cannabis or cannabis-based medicinal products is unlawful, except for the purposes of research.”
In late 2012 the Department of Health said legislation would be brought forward early in 2013 to facilitate the sale of medical cannabis.
GreenLight Health says the legislation has still not been brought forward and wants to raise awareness of this issue.
“There are over 8,000 MS patients in Ireland, many of whom already use cannabis to relieve their symptoms. However, what they are doing (currently) makes them criminals under Irish law," says Dr Linden.
“We want to change the law in Ireland and build a proper research and development facility with the aim of producing cannabis medicines for export, and not just for MS patients but for cancer patients, epilepsy patients and patients with chronic pain,” says Linden.
10 things you may not know about medical cannabis
- An Irishman, Dr William Brooke O'Shaughnessy (1809-1899), was the first person to introduce cannabis to modern Western Medicine in 1839.
- In 2015 Irish law still criminalises patients (with illnesses like MS) if they use cannabis to relieve their symptoms. The Irish government said it would bring forward “legislative proposals in mid-2013” to change the law. It didn’t do this.
- It is estimated that 30 per cent of MS patients in Europe use herbal cannabis to ease the pain and disabling symptoms of the disease.
- GreenLight Health’s crowdfunding campaign is to highlight the need for a change to Irish law and also highlight the plight of MS patients in Ireland.
- GreenLight Health also aims to research and develop more affordable cannabis medicines.
- Medical cannabis is currently legal in many EU countries including: Germany, France, the UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Austria.
- Medical cannabis is currently legal in 23 states in the United States of America.
- MS patients in Ireland have spoken freely about their need for cannabis medicines and their strong desire for a change to Irish Law
- There are 22 countries in the world, which have approved the use of the medical cannabis oral spray Sativex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. Ireland is one of them. Ironically, it still can’t be legally bought or sold in Ireland.
- The HPRA (previously the IMB) approved the licence application and is in favour of allowing the sale of Sativex in Ireland to MS patients. However, the Irish government has still not changed the law to allow MS patients to use Sativex.