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Why Is Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Concerned About Cannabis Usage Rates?

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Ireland is a cannabis prohibition nation. Not only is adult-use cannabis prohibited in Ireland, but medical cannabis is also technically prohibited in Ireland. There is a program in Ireland in which a limited number of medical cannabis patients are permitted to travel to the Netherlands for medical cannabis treatments.

As of July 2020, only 30 patients were approved for the program. Considering that Ireland has a population of over 5 million people, the low patient count speaks for itself.

Personal cannabis possession in Ireland is a violation of the Misuse of Drugs Acts (1977-2016), and carries a penalty of up to €1,000 for the first and second offense. The fine can be increased to €1,270 for a first offense, and €2,540 for a second offense, if the amount of cannabis involved is deemed to be ‘excessive.’

The penalty for a third personal possession offense is one to three years in prison depending on the case. It is worth noting that the Criminal Justice (Community Service) Act 2011 mandates that courts consider community service in place of a prison sentence when possible.

Needless to say, Ireland’s cannabis policies are terrible and in desperate need of improvement. No patient should have to face fines, mandated community service, and/or incarceration for possessing their medicine.

And yet, against that backdrop, Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer’s reported concern is not the plight of patients, but rather, that people are consuming cannabis. Per excerpts from The Journal:

THE USE OF cannabis in Ireland is “of great concern”, the Chief Medical Officer has expressed to the Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use.

“Cannabis can cause addiction,” she said. “We have 45,000 people with cannabis-use disorders in the latest data.”

Under-18s account for 80% of new presentations to cannabis addiction treatment services.

The excerpts from the article need context. For starters, what constitutes a ‘cannabis-use disorder’ is often determined by courts, law enforcement, and entities that profit from forcing people into treatment. Clearly, there is a bias involved in those instances.

Regarding ‘under-18s,’ many youth who are caught with cannabis, either by law enforcement or their parents, are forced into rehabilitation programs as part of their punishment. Statistics are reflective of that, and not reflective of ‘teen addiction’ per se.

Ireland does not have a cannabis use problem. Rather, it has a cannabis prohibition problem, and that problem is particularly terrible for suffering patients.