The nation of Ireland is continuing to relax some of its conservative social policies. In just the past two years, the deeply Catholic country has made divorce legal, decriminalized homosexuality, and legalized same sex marriage, the first nation to do so through a popular vote.
Now Ireland’s parliament, the Dáil, has passed a bill legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis, following word from the ruling party that they would not oppose such a measure.
Ireland’s National Public Service Broadcaster, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, reports that lawmaker Gino Kenny, sponsor of the bill, intends to make cannabis products available to patients who suffer from chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, MS, and fibromyalgia.
Ireland’s Minister for Health, Simon Harris, indicated that he will not oppose its progression through the Dáil, but added that some amendments may need to be added to the bill to thwart any possibility that medical cannabis legalization would open the door to legalized recreational marijuana use.
But not everyone in Ireland is happy that medical cannabis is being proposed for the nation. Paul Cullen, the Health Correspondent for The Irish Times, writes that there is “No good evidence for legalising medicinal cannabis” and that passage of the law would “make [marijuana] legal for recreational use for everyone over age of 16.”
Many claims are made for the benefits of cannabis used for medical purposes, but most of the studies done so far are small, short-term and of poor quality. Anyone can trawl the internet and seize on research to their liking, yet the balance of medical opinion on medicinal cannabis suggests the jury is out.
Here is what [The Cochrane Library’s] reports say about cannabis medications. They “may be useful” for treating nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy; no reliable conclusions can be drawn as a treatment for epilepsy; no convincing evidence in relation to treating fibromyalgia; limited and inconclusive results in relation to the treatment of schizophrenia.
Cannabis-containing products, like any other drugs, will have to show they produce a benefit, and that they are not harmful for patients. And yet we know that cannabis has harmful side effects. It is addictive, it can harm your mental health and may affect your fertility (says Britain’s NHS). There may well be other products that can match any positive effects without this drawback.
Fortunately, it seems like Mr. Cullen shares the view of just fewer than one-in-twelve Irish. The Journal, an Irish news publication, reports that there is a larger majority in support of medical cannabis legalization in Ireland than there is in the United States, where 28 states have already made it legal.
The survey shows that 92% of Irish people would be in favour of the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes.
Support for the question was highest in the Munster counties at 94%, although all areas surveyed showed greater than 90% of respondents answering ‘yes’ to the question.
Women showed a 93% favourability towards the survey question compared to 90% of men asked.
National medical marijuana and gay marriage by popular vote? Catholic Ireland would be overtaking America on progressive personal issues, if only Irish women who are victims of rape or incest could access legal abortion services.