Is weed legal in Ireland is one of the most asked questions. Even though cannabis is one of the most widely used drugs in Ireland, many people are still in the dark when it comes to knowledge about this plant. Cannabis has been illegal in Ireland for almost a century. However, in recent years, public opinion towards cannabis has dramatically changed towards a more positive opinion.
What is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a plant genus with three varieties, Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, and Cannabis ruderalis. Many parts of the plant can be used for recreational, therapeutic and/or medical purposes. When the flowers of these plants are harvested and dried what you are left with is the most widely used drug in the world.
Are weed and cannabis the same?
The terms people use to refer to cannabis can vary widely depending on geographical location. It can be called many names such as marijuana, pot or weed, and are all used to describe the cannabis plant. From a medical standpoint, it is important to refer to it by its correct name, cannabis, to bolster its legitimacy as a medicine and to help combat the societal stigma that is still associated with cannabis.
What is cannabis used for?
Cannabis and different strains of the cannabis plant can be used across a wide variety of sectors. Cannabis can be used as animal feed, textiles, food supplements, used in religious and spiritual ceremonies and most importantly medicine. Interest in medical cannabis has increased over the last number of decades, and today, scientists have discovered over 100 different cannabinoids that may have medicinal properties.
The most researched and known cannabinoids are THC, CBD and CBC. Cannabinoids work by activating cannabinoid receptors in the human body. These receptors are the key components of the human endocannabinoid system, which plays a crucial role in the central nervous system.
Cannabis Laws: A Brief History of the legality of Cannabis
The earliest mention of cannabis in Irish history refers to hemp cultivation. In 1809 the man referred to as the father of medicinal cannabis, William O’Shaughnessy was born in Co. Limerick. Having studied toxicology and chemistry in Scotland, he later travelled to India and became a member of the Medical and Physical Society in Calcutta. There he published one of his first papers on medical applications of cannabis. He validated the uses of cannabis in India, discovered new applications, and ultimately recommended cannabis for a great variety of therapeutic purposes.
Following his research cannabis was widely used across the western world as a medical treatment for a range of conditions. In 1934 the Irish Government passed the Dangerous Drug Act which prohibited cannabis in Ireland. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 continued the prohibition of cannabis as a scheduled drug.
This prohibition continued until it was challenged. In 2016 Vera Twomey began a battle for medical cannabis access for her daughter Ava. Ava was born with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet’s Syndrome and would have multiple seizures daily. Vera was one of the first people to be granted a Ministerial Licence to import cannabis to Ireland.
Due to the lack of any medical cannabis legislation in Ireland at the time, Vera was permitted to travel to the Netherlands every month to obtain medical cannabis and bring it back to Ireland. In 2020 due to covid restrictions, the Irish Government permitted medical cannabis to be delivered to her home.
Tristian Forde, a 3-year-old boy, was forced to relocate to Colorado with his mother Yvonne so they could access medical cannabis for Tristian’s epilepsy. After a year of treatment and a dramatic reduction in seizures, Tristen came home to Ireland in December 2016 A few days later he became one of the first people to obtain a Ministerial Licence for medical cannabis.
Is Weed Legal in Ireland 2022
Cannabis containing THC is currently illegal in Ireland. As a medical patient, you may be permitted to obtain a prescription for medical cannabis under either the MCAP programme or a Ministerial Licence. Cannabis obtained without a prescription remains illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977.
CBD, another cannabinoid in cannabis is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid and is not subject to the Misuse of Drugs Act, nor does it require a license or prescription. Cannabis for recreational use is illegal.
Is it legal to smoke weed in Ireland?
Smoking cannabis recreationally is illegal in Ireland. For medical patients smoking cannabis is not recommended as the optimal intake method.
Is it legal to vape weed in Ireland?
It Is recommended that patients who chose inhalation as the method of administration of medical cannabis should use a dry herb vaporiser for flower products.
Is it legal to grow weed in Ireland?
Cannabis cultivation for medical purposes is illegal in Ireland and no licences have been given to date for this activity. Cannabis cultivation licenses can be awarded by the Minister for Health for analysis and research purposes by the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The Legality of Cannabis Vs. CBD Vs. Hemp
Industrial Hemp can be grown in Ireland, again under a licence that can be obtained from the Health Products Regulatory Authority. There has been an increase in interest in CBD/Hemp farming over the last number of years, with more licences being awarded every year.
Industrial hemp can be legally grown in Ireland under a licence from the Department of Health for a range of uses, including fibre, food and feed. The varieties of hemp permitted are listed in the EU’s ‘Common Catalogue of Varieties of Agricultural Plant Species.
What happens if you are caught with weed Illegally?
Anyone found in possession of cannabis may find themselves in receipt of a criminal conviction. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 states a person may receive a criminal conviction, a fine or imprisonment for possession of cannabis.
More recently the Adult Caution Scheme was expanded to include personal possession of cannabis. If the Garda determines the individual should avoid criminal prosecution, they may issue a caution. This scheme is based on Gardai discretion and does not apply in every case.
What about medical cannabis?
There may be a possibility that your medical cannabis will be confiscated if you cannot illustrate that it has been legally supplied. Up until now, many patients have resorted to carrying a copy of their prescription with them as proof.
Oleo recently launched the Medical Cannabis Card to aid patients in this regard. It contains your name, photo and your Cannabis for Medical Use Register (CMUR) number. Carrying proof of your prescription can inform the Gardai that the substance is not illegal and avoid confiscation.
Learn more about Cannabis here: Medical Cannabis Ireland
Political Parties View on Cannabis
The Green Party’s manifesto titled “Towards 2030” shows the party is committed to reform. They state. “A more compassionate policy based on international best practice can be introduced within existing constraints under international law.” The manifesto also promotes reform with a proposal for Amsterdam-style coffee shops.
The Social Democrats are also committed to reform. Their manifesto “Invest in Better” states the Party believes a “health-based approach, with a focus on harm-reduction and prevention based on international best practice”, is needed.
Fine Gael describes itself as the party of law and order. Their recent manifesto “A Future to Look Forward To” states they are committed to utilising “key law enforcement strategies to protect people from the harm of illegal drugs.”
Fianna Fáil does not go in-depth with their stance. They simply state “Examine the regulations and legislation that apply to cannabis use for medical conditions and palliative care.”
People Before Profit are one of the few parties to have a dedicated drug policy strategy. They consistently advocate for the expansion of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme to include other conditions such as chronic pain. They also advocate for full cannabis regulation.
Sinn Féin does not mention medical cannabis in their manifesto. Although they do state that “Treatment and rehabilitation strategies will go hand in hand with recovery initiatives that will help to support people in recovery. Sinn Féin supports a holistic approach.”
Can you Fly or Travel with Cannabis in Ireland?
The Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 regulates any product infused with THC. If you are visiting Ireland, it is illegal for you to import or carry controlled substances (drugs) into Ireland. You must be prescribed medical cannabis under the current schemes either MCAP or Ministerial Licence to be permitted cannabis in Ireland.
How do I Qualify for Medical Cannabis?
Find out if you qualify for the Medical Cannabis Access Programme here.
There are currently two ways to access medical cannabis in Ireland.
Ministerial Licence, the Minister for Health has the power to grant a licence to an Irish-registered medical practitioner (e.g., GP) for access to cannabis-based products for a named patient under their care. For the minister to approve an application it must be supported by a specialist consultant. There are no specified conditions to qualify for a Ministerial Licence.
Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP), The MCAP enables a medical consultant to prescribe a cannabis-based treatment for a patient under his or her care for the following medical conditions, where the patient has failed to respond to standard treatments: spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy.
If you wish to learn more in detail about the following conditions, please check out our blogs below:
Register as a Patient
You can view our detailed blog on Medical Cannabis Access Programme
If you are considering consuming cannabis in Ireland, it is important to know that cannabis is only permitted for those who carry a valid Irish Medical Cannabis Prescription.