In an historic vote Ireland's parliament has recently voted to pass legislation legalizing the use of medical herbal. The vote is ground breaking because Ireland has traditionally been a country where some of the most draconian laws in the world have been passed in relation to herbal use with sentences for possession ranging as high 15 years imprisonment in some cases.
The votes comes in the wake of a whole host of states in the USA voting to legalize the plant. In Colorado, for example, anyone aged 21 or older is legally entitled to possess up to one ounce of the herb. In 2015, Colorado sold nearly $1 billion worth of medicinal and recreational herbal. The evidence of a whole array of health benefits seems to be growing by the day with people advocating the herbs use for many illnesses.
But the move towards a more liberal approach in Ireland is all the more remarkable when you consider that up until relatively recently Ireland was a church controlled state which had banned contraception, homosexuality, and a whole host of other practices. The country which was formally known as ‘the land of saints and scholars’ seems to be moving towards a gigantic shift in public consensus towards various issues, and common sense seems to be prevailing in the corridors of power.
The motion was recently tabled by the TD, Gino Kenny, and had the support of the vast majority of Ireland's politicians. Ireland’s main political party Fianna Gael decided not to oppose the bill, but some TD’d had concerns about parts of the bill which they felt was leaning towards complete legalization of the herb. Health Minister Simon Harris met with two senior proponents of the bill and outlined his concerns that sections of the bill called for complete legalization and upon hearing the Ministers concerns it was decided to amend the offending sections. And whilst we would be critical of Mr Harris not throwing caution to the wind, and accepting complete legalization of the herb we have to say that he’s stepping in the right direction.
Minister Harris went on to state that upon hearing clinical advice from medical experts that he felt it would be incumbent upon him to support the ground-breaking bill. The Minister also went on to touch on the fact that the evidence for the medical benefits of the herb is getting larger and larger. Throughout the world evidence is mounting that the herb can help relieve a whole host of conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, MS, and chronic pain. Patients suffering from many of these conditions have spoken about how the drug has made their lives more tolerable.
A case that was highlighted in relation to the benefits of herbal use was Six year old Erica Cawley from Dublin. The six year old suffers from a condition known as Dravet Syndrome which causes terrible epileptic seizures. The little girl suffered more than 200 seizures a day and could not walk or talk due to her condition. She was also unable to take anti-epilepsy medication as it put her in danger of cardiac arrest and so in desperation her family turned to trying
Charlotte’s Web oil, which contains a low dose of THC, and since she has began taking this oil she has seen a dramatic overall improvement in her condition.
Only yesterday the government Health Committee recommended that medicinal herbal be paid for by the Irish government. So pending approval by healthcare professionals it looks like certain kind of herbal will be made available free of charge to people who fit the medical criteria. But the issue is that the particular type of herbal must be first approved by the Health Regulatory Authority. Many campaigners who have been seeking a relaxation in the laws and this has culminated in the news that herbal looks set to be legalized for medicinal use.
Ireland's lawmakers seem intent on following the Portuguese model where citizens caught with possession of herbal aren't subject to any stringent penalty but are let off with a slight reprimand. In June, last year, politicians from Ireland travelled to Portugal to study the effects of this more lenient approach in regards to the herb and what they discovered was that a more relaxed approach has resulted in falling crime rates and also a whole host of other benefits.
According to a EU's illicit substance monitoring agency overdose "passing's" in Portugal are the second lowest in the EU, and amongst the lowest in the world. In Portugal there are three overdose "passing's" for every million citizens, and these statistics vastly undercuts the rest of the EU and most of the world. Its remarkable to think that cigarettes and alcohol are causing millions of ‘passings’ throughout the globe every year, but that there is an acceptance amongst politicians that prohibiting these substances simply does not work. This fact was clearly evidenced way back in the 1920's in the USA where alcohol prohibition led to massive crime rates, and led to the birth of notorious individuals such as Al Capone, and Bugsy Siegel, who made vast profits out of prohibition. The simple fact is that prohibition doesn't work, it hasn't worked, and it never will work.
Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, went further and stated that at a later date that he would be open to debate about the wider legalization of many other herbs. We feel that this really is a step in the right direction and the future looks more than bright for herbal enthusiasts compared to what it looked like decades ago. As touched on earlier in the blog, Ireland was previously a country which had some of the most draconian and oppressive laws in the world. Up until relatively recently the Irish state was ruled by the Catholic Church with a virtual iron fist with the Church having a special place in the Irish constitution. For example, in the 1950's over five thousand books where banned because the Church felt that they didn't fit the morals of which the Catholic Church was supposedly preaching. In 70's, the movie 'Monty Python' was banned because it violated the teachings of the Church, and In the 80's there was a whole host of feminist publications banned because they contained references to contraception. But the liberalization of Irelands laws are a welcome development and the fact that herbal laws are being liberalized throughout the world bodes well for the future.