Controversially, the national broadcaster RTÉ edited an online clip of her speech short. This led to wide sharing of her full speech across Irish social media. This has placed even more pressure on Varadkar to legislate for cannabis reform. There are a number of proposals that have already been put forward, including one where the ball is firmly in the government’s court.
This so-called “land of the green” has actually been quite strict against cannabis. But now, Ireland is reconsidering its attitude toward cannabis with several proposals to change the law. Here is an Irish writer’s report on the political factors at play.
In December 2016, an Irish Times/Ipsos poll placed public support for prescribed medicinal cannabis in Ireland as high as 81%. A Red C poll published a month earlier placed support levels even higher at 92%. The Irish public appears to be very sympathetic to the use of cannabis in a supervised medical context. It would seem like a no-brainer for the government to introduce this, especially with all of cannabis’ potential medical benefits. Yet the government is still progressing slowly and trepidatiously on the matter.
POTENTIAL CHANGES FOR MEDICAL CANNABIS?
Reforming cannabis laws appears to be popular in Ireland. This is certainly true of medical cannabis, where even older and more conservative groups support it. While public attitudes are shifting, there could still be vocal opposition to any moves towards tolerating recreational cannabis. There’s decades of misinformation around cannabis, with people fearing its effects will be similar to alcohol. Ireland has huge problems with alcohol. As an Irish non-drinker, I know this is a harmful stereotype. It is also observable in Irish cities every weekend. What might be appealing is the potential for an alternative social scene in Ireland.
The Irish Green Party advocates for adopting the Dutch model, but with licences for regulated domestic cultivation. This avoids the Dutch pitfall of organised crime involvement in the supply of cannabis to coffeeshops. Otherwise, the Dutch model is followed closely, with adult-only coffeeshop spaces for selling and using cannabis. There would be no criminal offence for possessing less than five grams of cannabis. There would also be access to cannabis-based medicines through pharmacies, similar to recent reforms in Germany.
Wherever access to cannabis opens up, a community emerges around its responsible use. A more laid back coffeeshop environment could be safer than the amped-up atmosphere of bars, pubs, and nightclubs. The contrast between stoned behaviour and drunk behaviour was even highlighted in Colorado’s **historic legalization campaign. What if instead of making Irish nightlife worse, cannabis actually helped with Ireland’s alcohol problems? It’s even possible cannabis can treat addiction to alcohol and other substances! But is any of this even likely to happen in Ireland?
All the while, an opioid crisis is harming communities throughout Ireland. City streets can often be seen with discarded syringes from heroin-users. With the mounting failures of the War on Drugs, even the Irish government has been thinking things over. They are in the process of establishing Dublin’s first centre for supervised heroin injection—a harm reduction measure practiced in many countries. They have also repeatedly expressed plans to emulate the drug policy of Portugal. Under 2001 reforms, possessing less than a ten-day supply of illicit drugs is no longer a criminal offence in Portugal. The health benefits observed as a result make a strong case for Portugal’s policy, though Ireland has yet to implement it. When it comes to cannabis, a new tide of public opinion may force the government’s hand.
“Prohibition has been proven not to work,” says a spokesperson. “It is not getting us anywhere towards solving the problem, but just alienates smokers and leaves the control of supply in the hands of criminal gangs.”
In Cannabiz, in Dublin’s Temple Bar, you can buy cannabis seeds that have been legally imported from the Netherlands. Smokers might recognise such popular varieties as Northern Lights and Skunk. The shop also does a legitimate trade in varyingly elaborate bongs. It is not against the law to sell any of these items, but it is to put them all together and grow or smoke drugs. Cannabiz has signs pinned on every counter warning customers that these are novelty items and that the shop does not, in any way, encourage people to break the law. In the twilight zone that is the attitude to cannabis in Ireland, Cannabiz and other such “head shops” scattered about Ireland sit, somewhat unsteadily, in the middle.
“It is by far the most widely used drug, so there’s bound to be more police time given to it,” argues Ahern. “But the vast bulk of that is in relation to dealers rather than the small quantities for personal use. It depends on whether someone is flaunting it, puffing in your face or whatever, but it is not the end of the market that gardaí concentrate on.”
“Even if we were to eventually allow cannabis to be used for medical purposes, that is a million miles away from legalising it for recreational use,” says Noel Ahern. “It is harmful to health too; there is no doubt about that. If tobacco were illegal today, no country would legalise it purely from a health point of view. That health issue is overriding.”
That does pose questions for Border police, although the Northern Ireland Office says that the law will be implemented in the same way there as in the rest of the UK, even though, uniquely, cannabis is the most problematic drug in the region. It adds that reclassification does not mean it will ease off on tracking major smugglers and that there is already a high-level of co-operation between the authorities North and South. This week’s record seizure of £2.75 million worth of cannabis in Hillsborough was tracked from Spain, through Dublin and across the Border. However, the change in the law may be a headache at a time when a major advertising campaign is warning of the dangers of drug-driving. A quarter of dead drivers in Northern Ireland are found with drugs in their system.
The Government will not entertain thoughts of going down the Dutch route. In the UK, it has been estimated the “cannabis economy” is worth £5 billion in sales alone. Add to that the associated extras of munchies, pipes, tobacco and video games, and that figure rises to £11 billion. The Irish cannabis economy might not reach that level, but with Customs and Excise intercepting €9.5 million worth of cannabis in 2003 without halting the drug’s widespread availability, a lot of money is spent on a drug that could reap a lot of revenue for the State.
The Irish courts are quite lenient on recreational drugs, with the district courts giving prison sentences in only 22 out of 363 cases relating to minor summary drugs offences in 2002. Yet cannabis is the target of approximately 75 per cent of all drugs seizures here, tying up an enormous amount of Garda hours in the process.
Although this species has a slightly longer flowering time than an average autoflower, the Blue Cheese is very suitable for the climate of Ireland. Moreover, the plant doesn’t grow that tall so you can grow unnoticed. Blue Cheese is known for its fairly calming effect and is a wonderful weed for daily use. In addition, easy to grow and a nice outdoor harvest that can reach up to 400 grams per m2.
Although the terpene compounds of the cannabis plant work as an antifungal, this is not indefinite. The climate of Ireland must be taken seriously in order to reduce the risk of mold and top rot. We therefore advise you to grow your plants in pots with holes at the bottom. In this way the excess water can easily drain away. In addition, you can easily move the plant indoors when the weather gets really bad. Finally, you will have to check your plants regularly for signs of water stress and top rot. You can also reduce the chance of mold by growing in a greenhouse.
As mentioned earlier in this article, a short cycle is very important for a successful outdoor breeding in Ireland. Autoflowers are therefore a good choice anyway. The AK 47 autoflower has a high mold resistance, will develop a strong trunk and is ready for harvest within 3 months. If you plant the seeds at the beginning of May, you can already harvest at the end of July or the beginning of August.
Top 3 best cannabis seeds to grow in Ireland
More information | AK 47 auto seeds or our feminized AK 47 seeds
Due to the limited sunlight, you need a variety without too much shadowing so an indica species is an obvious choice. This species originated in cold and mountainous climates and is therefore also suitable for the climate of Ireland. The broad leaves ensure that the light is well captured and the layer formation acts as insulation.
Most growers will germinate their seeds in April so that they are ready for spring vegetation. However, in Ireland you should not plant your seeds too early. Especially since you may still have to deal with night frost like in Northern Ireland . It’s therefore advisable to keep a close eye on the weather before you start the germination process. Moreover, because a seedling is still very susceptible to bad weather and infections it’s advisable to germinate and grow the seeds indoors the first 2 to 3 weeks before you move the plant outside. By carrying out the first phase of the plant indoors you considerably increase the chance of a successful cultivation.