How have we, a nation of farmers, renowned for agriculture and having a hearty respect for land, become so afraid, so conformist and so farcical when it comes to natural health supplements and alternative medicines?
In these rapidly changing times and amidst the jostling of European markets our policy makers are killing Irish businesses, deterring investment, and worst of all, depriving chronically ill citizens of the freedom to choose non-pharmaceutical options with their lack of organization and backward attitudes.
Between recent announcements from Enterprise Ireland that they don’t support ‘hemp companies’, welcomed developments to the Department of Health’s cannabis access scheme, and recent raids on CBD stores, it is apparent that there is a dangerous disarray and lack of communication between government departments.
When one studies policy on the subject it becomes glaringly obvious how Customs, the HPRA, Revenue, an Garda Siochana and the Department of Health all have different attitudes and policy when it comes to hemp and CBD.
Currently there is a global movement toward natural alternatives and huge interest in cannabis as a medicine. In recent years doctors and patients worldwide have collaborated to monitor the effects of cannabinoids.
Enough research exists to establish CBD, an isolate derived from cannabis (or hemp) as a gentle non-addictive pain reliever, an important support to cancer patients, and an effective, novel assistant in relieving symptoms related to alzheimers, parkinsons, epilepsy, autism, and depression.
Isolated CBD, which is psycho-actively benign, is legal in this country. It is not a controlled substance.
CBD does not get you “high”.
Our government, rather than maintaining the status quo for fear of backlash from uneducated groups should develop policy and support education on the matter, to allow our nation of farmers and educated young people to build an internationally renowned hemp and CBD industry.
Not only should policy be streamlined, but resources should be established to support local enterprise and farming methods. Patients want freedom to choose alternatives, farmers want new opportunities and entrepreneurs want to supply services and safe products without fear.
These recent raids highlight fear and lack of education. They highlight a nation that is disabling itself when other countries are grabbing a slice of a burgeoning international hemp and cannabis industry.
These local businesses, who were victims of these raids, would embrace a regulatory framework. They are paying taxes. They are employing people. They are providing access to a product that improves people’s lives. They are working with the policy currently in place. These policies are clearly not working. Simple changes could be made to protect patients, support local enterprise, give life back to our agricultural sector and perhaps even help establish Ireland as a leader in hemp derived CBD production.
We are a nation of supposed scholars, smothered by fear and disorganization once again. We’ve spent years breaking free. We are proud of our resilience, our recent changes to the Constitution and our reputation internationally.
Let’s not let fear of a plant push us backwards. We have the opportunity to be leaders in this industry.
Let’s not let semantics and gaps in policy hold us back.
|Leah Fletcher, B.Ed, M.Ed|