Pot of gold — Irish farmers seeking law change to get in on medical cannabis trade – Extra.ie

Irish farmers are seeking a change in the law so they can grow cannabis.

They want to diversify so the plant can be cultivated for medical purposes – which is a growing industry worldwide – rather than for illegal recreational trade.

The Irish Farmers’ Association has asked for a meeting with the Department of Health on the matter.

Irish farmers are seeking a change in the law so they can grow cannabis. Pic: Shutterstock

In a letter to the department, the IFA stressed that Ireland has a golden opportunity to become a ‘major player’ in the production of medicinal cannabis on an industrial scale.

An IFA official told the department that Ireland could follow the US and Canada in the production medicinal cannabis, as well as industrial hemp and CBD oil, if laws were changed.

Pat Farrell, horticulture executive with the IFA, said that the tillage sector has declined by around 20% since 2012, and that farmers were looking for profitable new crops.

The Irish Farmers’ Association has asked for a meeting with the Department of Health on the matter. Pic: Shutterstock

He told Newstalk Breakfast that recreational cannabis use should not be confused with the plant’s use for industrial and medicinal purposes.

‘We’re always kind of looking for alternative or niche markets – and hemp is one of those,’ he said.

However, he said there was a block in the legislation at the moment.

medical cannabis

He told Newstalk Breakfast that recreational cannabis use should not be confused with the plant’s use for industrial and medicinal purposes. Pic: shutterstock

Mr Farrell said farmers wanted to be able to cultivate hemp, which is a strain of the cannabis plant grown for industrial use, such as fibres, insulation and biodegradable plastics.

It contains CBD oil, the part used for medicines, but also negligible amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis which allows recreational users to get high.

In Ireland, hemp is classed as a controlled drug, and farmers need a special licence from the Health Products Regulatory Authority to grow it.

In Ireland, hemp is classed as a controlled drug, and farmers need a special licence from the Health Products Regulatory Authority to grow it. Pic: Shutterstock

The licence has restrictions – for instance, plants must not be visible from the road, and the THC content must not exceed 0.3%.

As a result, hemp is grown on a small scale here, for medical, cosmetic and food products. The IFA wants the law to change so it can be grown more freely.

 

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