Medical marijuana may soon be coming to Ireland

In Feature Stories by David Silverberg

Public sentiment in Ireland is pushing medical marijuana into the arena of social acceptance, and upcoming legislation may soon propel it to be a legalized form of medicine.

It’s about time, according to health-care organizations. Multiple Sclerosis Ireland said people suffering with multiple sclerosis are “extremely frustrated and tired” of waiting for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis, as this report states.

“We have been waiting around for years for this and there have been a number of announcements that this was coming and nothing has happened. It has been fudged all along the way. Sufferers need this as soon as possible,” said Emma Rogan, policy and information officer with MS  Ireland.

Marijuana remains an illegal drug in Ireland.  But legislation will soon be introduced to legalize medical marijuana, particularly for those suffering from multiple sclerosis. The Department of Health has been discussing with experts to identify how best to legally prescribe authorised cannabis-based medicinal products, while maintaining existing controls on cannabis and cannabis substances, as we learn here.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Alex White recently said in July the government was at “quite an advanced stage in preparing regulations” and that he hoped these would be introduced “in the coming months.”

Legislative proposals to legalize medical marijuana were expected in mid-2013.

Judging by recent polls and newspaper columns, Ireland is warming to marijuana like never before. A column in The Journal wrote “the benefits of legalising, regulating and taxing the stuff are clear.” A recent survey found 66 percent of respondents would be in favour of allowing cannabis use solely for medical purposes. And other media articles point to the activists and marijuana users urging Ireland to view the drug from a medical perspective.

All this momentum could inspire the Irish government to push forward autumn legislation that would legalize medical marijuana. It would be a milestone that MS Ireland would like to see quickly take shape.

“It’s about being able to carry on with your daily life: to hold a cup of tea; to hold a child if you have children; to type at your computer. All these are very difficult if you have tremors,” said Emma Rogan of MS Ireland.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Chris Dollard