Drug Policy in Ireland

David O’Sullivan is a masters student studying Journalism in Dublin City University. In his debut piece for The Green Lens, David provides a concise look into the recent developments of cannabis in Ireland and what lies in the future for Irish drug policies. A believer in harm reduction, David asserts that cannabis reform will shift focus from the criminalisation of cannabis usage to rehabilitating those with addiction issues.

Ireland is stuck in the past in many things, including its relationship towards weed. However, recent efforts to reform cannabis legislation mean the country is slowly accepting how the plant could help medically, economically and judicially. On the 14th of December, 2020, Irish politician Gino Kenny of People Before Profit announced his party would propose a bill to end the prohibition of cannabis in Ireland. This is not the first time this kind of bill will be proposed to the Irish government. In 2013, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s bill to legalise cannabis in Ireland lost eight votes to one hundred and eleven. Kenny believes that the public perception of cannabis in Ireland has changed over the last few years as people recognize its benefits. This means a bill could find more success a second time around. However, he says that the issue has stalled over the last ten months due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and that Ireland is still “five to seven years” away from fully legalised, recreational cannabis.

He would like to see a model of legal cannabis similar to Uruguay’s in relation to how cannabis is sold and state controlled. Kenny says there is lots of stigma attached to cannabis use in Ireland, despite the fact users are still able to lead fruitful lives. Kenny finds that there is a stereotype that “someone who uses cannabis does not have a job and is involved with criminality. This is not the case.” The announcement has been met with some controversy. In response to Kenny, Eamon Ryan, leader of The Green Party in Ireland, said that the country was not ready to legalise cannabis next year. When asked to clarify, he was unable to comment. In June 2019, former Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that a Medical Cannabis Access Programme was being set up on a pilot basis of five years to prescribe medicine to patients with certain conditions. Irish activists, such as Nicole Lonergan of Cork Cannabis Activist Network, are critical of the programme.

Not a single patient has been prescribed actual cannabis under it to date despite its benefits. Instead, they can be prescribed CBD oils. The products include Aurora High CBD Oil Drops, Tilray Oral Solution and CannEpil. CBD oils are extracted from cannabis but do not contain the chemical component THC. CBD and THC share many of the same medical benefits, though THC produces a high which CBD does not. This means some users may prefer CBD oils to prevent an unwanted psychoactive effect of cannabis use. Patients on the programme were forced to travel to the Netherlands to pick up medicine which ultimately contributed to making the programme inaccessible. During the pandemic, many of these patients could not travel to get their medicine. On the 14th of December 2020, Irish Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced that a delivery service would be implemented to transport the necessary medication to programme participants.

At the moment patients with multiple sclerosis, vomiting associated with chemotherapy or who are severely epileptic and resistant to treatment can take part in the medicinal cannabis programme. However, there are other illnesses which could benefit from cannabis use including liver cancer, ulcers, glaucoma and post-traumatic stress disorder. Aside from the medicinal advantages, Ireland could benefit in several other important ways from legalising cannabis. One important aspect of legalised cannabis would be fewer people entering the Irish justice system and the resources that go into criminalising these people could instead be allocated to another state programme. Natalie O’Regan is an Irish legal researcher in drug policy reform, harm reduction and cannabis. According to O’Regan, nearly 70% of all drug incidents were for personal possession in 2019. Out of these incidents, approximately 600 were incarcerated. She says that as cannabis is the most widely used drug in Ireland, it follows that a large number of these cases were on cannabis related charges.

According to The Irish Central Statistics Office, over 22,000 controlled drug offences were made in the country in 2020. This represents a growth of 13.5% relative to the previous year. If cannabis were to be legalised then not only could this number decrease, but less people could end up imprisoned. On the 16th December 2020, cannabis was introduced into the Irish adult caution scheme. This means that a person caught with cannabis for personal use may no longer face criminalisation but instead a fine. This is based on the arresting police officer’s discretion, an admission of guilt and whether it is a first time offence. Therefore, the threat of criminalisation still remains. Peter Grinspoon MD is an author, physician and a teacher at Harvard Medical School. He is the son of Lester Grinspoon, a leading reformer of American cannabis legislation during the twentieth century. In his own words, he is a “second generation cannabis activist”. He believes that ultimately the criminal consequences of using cannabis are worse than any possible physical side effects. A criminal conviction for cannabis possession could affect your employment, access to housing and family life in many countries.

Grinspoon says that there are numerous health benefits to cannabis use including relieving insomnia, anxiety, pain, spasticity, nausea and epilepsy. However, there are also risks attached with it. Like any substance, it is possible to become habitually dependent on cannabis. However, this study by The Mayo Clinic shows cannabis could be less addictive than alcohol, cocaine, heroin and nicotine. Another consequence of cannabis use could come from weaning off after heavy usage. The withdrawal period can cause irritability or difficulty eating and sleeping and can take up to a week to recover from. Legalising cannabis would result in regulated, taxed, safer cannabis usage. Dr. Grinspoon says that many of the risks attached to cannabis usage in countries where cannabis is illegal, such as anxiety, are the side effect of unregulated, black market sales. If the drug is legalised, it means it can be grown without fungus or pesticides and consumers will be able to know exactly what is in their cannabis, including THC levels, to prevent an uncomfortable high.

On the other hand, legalising cannabis could have less effect than anticipated. Forbes describe how despite cannabis being legal in places such as California, the black market trade continues. This is due to high government taxes and limited dispensaries which encourage customers to turn to cheaper, more accessible, illicit vendors. Global legal cannabis sales last year were about $12.2 billion and could be worth $50 billion by 2029. Legalising cannabis could provide the Irish government with vast sums of money in tax revenue. Back in 2013 when he proposed the initial bill to legalise cannabis in Ireland, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan estimated that cannabis could generate up to €300 million in tax revenue and freeing up of resources. As more people use the drug, this number could increase.

The money the government received through cannabis taxation could be used to tackle important issues crippling many in Ireland such as housing, drug rehabilitation and the oncoming fallout from COVID-19. The global trend shows that cannabis use is becoming more widespread and less stigmatised. Though there are minor drawbacks to legalising cannabis, they are outweighed by the positives. The benefits to public health, economy and justice are undeniable and the continuation of Irish prohibition will cause nothing but harm. Unfair vilification of cannabis use over the last few decades has affected an untold number of Irish lives and one can only hope that in the future this can be rectified.

As a younger generation comes into maturity, efforts must be continued to protect the vulnerable. Continuing prohibition trivializes serious problems facing the Irish population as we, hopefully, move into a world with mass COVID-19 vaccination. The Irish government seems to recognize this through the acceptance of cannabis in a medicinal capacity along with the introduction of lighter punishments, yet continue to operate in an outdated and uninformed manner when it comes to greater legalisation.

Ireland has been stuck in the past and it is time to catch up. The march is slow, but in Ireland the future is green.

Educated Stoner – Cannabis & Cancer: Take Five Leaves and Pray

A continuation of the Educated Stoner series by freelance journalist, producer and cannabis advocate, Sharon Letts. We encourage our readers to check out more from sharonletts.com as she documents her experience with cannabis from beating cancer to remedy recipes, essays and books to video and podcast interviews, and much more. Twitter: @SharonLetts

The summer of 2012 a mammogram found a spider-web-like mass in my right breast. Research showed it to be “Lobular Carcinoma,” a mass, not a tumor. In the weeks leading up to the first mammogram and subsequent ultra-sound, I began ingesting raw leaves. By the time the first biopsy was done the spider web was gone with just a “target point” remaining. After bartering with my oncologist for another month, he agreed to let me continue my treatment. The strong oil used to treat cancer and other serious ailments was re-invented by Canadian Rick Simpson more than ten years ago. The recipe is specific, using bud, stem and leaf for whole plant theory and the most medicine. A medicine maker who made several batches for her husband’s prostate cancer said she first used just bud and the batch tested high in THC. Simpson encourages upwards of 95 percent THC in the mix; the second batch leaf was added and the test showed CBD; the third batch she added stems and found CBN was added – proving whole plant theory gets you the most medicine.

60 Grams in 90 Days

The treatment for RSO [Rick Simpson Oil] is to ingest 60 grams in 90 days. Suppositories are said to be best, as it gets the medicine right to the blood stream and organs for healing, not digestive processing. At 95% THC, dosing is critical with the patient starting small, initially taking a piece of oil the size of a half grain of rice. After some time a full grain of rice is taken, working up to one full gram a day until the full 60 gram treatment is gone. The most invasive cancers have been found to be gone in less than 90 days if the oil is strong enough. Other oils have come on the market as medicine makers step up. But the rule of thumb is to make sure it’s tested, as the numbers need to test high on THC and the base is made with solvent and it must be cooked down. A common mistake is to soak the plant material for days rather than a quick wash (three minutes, tops), as the medicine is in the fragile terpenes of the plant and soaking only draws in more chlorophyll to the mix and actually retains solvent, while lowering the percentage for medicinal compounds.

I can’t emphasize how strong the oil is, but the THC is necessary. The first tests on destroying tumors came from Israel in 1974, and the THC component of the plant was isolated for this reason. It will knock you down, but that’s a good thing, as the body needs rest to heal. The modern day “take a pill” and continue life as usual just doesn’t work for this treatment – but it is a life saver.

Look at me, I’m Cancer Free!

Happily the second scheduled biopsy found nothing, with the mass completely gone from both the mammogram and ultra-sound. The attending technician called it a “technical error,” stating the initial technician probably got it wrong. But I was there looking over her shoulder and saw the same distinct spider-web mass in both the mammogram and ultra-sound. An oncologist assistant was called in for lack of an attending oncologist to have a chat with me, stating sometimes there is “dense tissue” that can be confused with cancers. But his lecture on the subject was long, convoluted, and did not make sense to me at all. I was polite and reiterated that I treated myself by ingesting Cannabis oil, but he didn’t know anything about the treatment, of course, and refused to engage in a conversation.

The follow-up letter received from the lab stated they felt the “dense tissue” remaining in my breast was “probably left over from a prior surgery.” This gave me a huge laugh, as, of course, I have never had surgery in that breast or the other one, for that matter. I also felt this was an insult to my intelligence and the treatment used, but until the masses are educated on this plant we can’t expect this process to be easy. At the very least everyone involved heard my words. My cancer experience happened in 2012 and to this day I ingest with various deliveries I make myself, as follows:

• Blending raw leaf daily for digestive issues, prevention of illness, and overall well-being

(no psychoactive effects).

• Maintenance dose of RSO at night for sleep and prevention of illness and cancers.

• Cooking meals using infused oils, butter, honey, etc.

• Cocktails with infused alcohol, such as gin or rum – quelling inflammation leading to headaches and

hangovers, prevention of illness.

• Cold and flu prevention: If I feel a cold or flu coming on I up my ingesting and the infection lasts just

a couple of days.

• Use of infused topical salves, lotions, deodorant: Daily skin regiment for cancers, rashes, bug bites,

burns, acne, and numerous disorders of the skin.

• Smoking as needed for depression associated with hormonal disorders (Thyroid Disease, Menopause)

To date, the stigma is still greater than the remedy, but the times they are a-changing. With each new story of healing shared, people learn the truth. And you can’t stop the truth from spreading – thankfully, it’s a cancer in itself.

Educated Stoner – Evangelizing Cannabis: Praise the Lord & Pass the Pipe!

A continuation of the Educated Stoner series by freelance journalist, producer and cannabis advocate, Sharon Letts. We encourage our readers to check out more from sharonletts.com as she documents her experience with cannabis from beating cancer to remedy recipes, essays and books to video and podcast interviews, and much more. Twitter: @SharonLetts

The past five years I’ve covered six states, three countries, and thousands of miles in a state of Divine Intervention, with people suffering from real illness put in front of me like little animals to St. Francis of Assisi. I often feel like Theresa Caputo, “The Long Island Medium” (less the hair and nails). Spirits come to her like patients are put in front of me, daily. Either I meet people with real illness, or they know someone suffering under traditional care – there are no coincidences – or, maybe everyone is just getting sicker? When I tell people Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, put my breast cancer into remission, most don’t believe it. But, when sitting on this kind of knowledge it becomes a responsibility to share. It’s actually the only way to get the word out, for no Department of Health Services will be passing out pamphlets any time soon. Those who know must “be the pamphlet.”

Physician Heal Thyself

While travelling in Eastern Washington State my lower back went out, leaving me helpless with severe spasms in my sciatica. Anyone who has suffered from the pain of sciatic spasms knows what I’m talking about. The second the swollen muscle or tendon presses a nerve against a bone, the pain is excruciating and can level a grown man in a second. Out of real medicine, a visit to Urgent Care disappointed, as the Doctor was a cold fish about my Cannabis use for pain, only offering opioids or a steroid injection. Even then she could not promise the spasms would be gone. Cannabis makes them go away, I informed, but she wouldn’t engage. I finally asked if the clinic was federally funded.

To this she gave a knowing and firm, “Yes”. She couldn’t have talked about this good medicine if she wanted to. The nurse listened attentively, however, and confided in me when the doctor was out of ear shot that she was suffering from spasms in her legs, and how could she get some of this medicine? She shared this with me as she stood (all day) at a computer taking down patient information. My heart sank to hear her situation, and I shared what I could. She not only “liked” my fan page on Facebook, she read an essay I penned on pain management and sent me a note of thanks.

All Aboard the Wellness Train!

On a train recently, the conductor announced if anyone on board had nausea medicine. Now, the ramifications of me helping someone with Cannabis are great. Firstly, I’m not a doctor; I’m merely an enlightened Cannabis patient. Secondly – well, there are enough reasons why I shouldn’t help, but my mom is looking down on me from Heaven, this is God’s medicine, and she didn’t raise someone who sits on their hands. No matter the consequences, I adjusted my proverbial Florence Nightingale hat, put my faith on the rule of the rail’s “right of way,” and headed down to the car in question with my little bottle of Nternal Oil, a light oil made in the Bay Area of California, with very little psychoactive properties due to the low heat process used. There sat one very sickly passenger and all eyes were on me as I announced, “I have medicine that works great for nausea, but it’s made from Cannabis.”

To this, I get the usual blank stares, and I must use the dreaded word, “Are you familiar with Marijuana?” (You know, I really wanted to say “The Marijuana.”) To this, her eyes light up, knowingly, and I ask if she has a teaspoon. The looks on the faces surrounding this woman are priceless as she takes the dose. She thanks me and I wish her well, making my way back to my seat. Checking on her two hours later, she is found chatting it up with the woman next to her, a drink in one hand and food in the other. “How are you feeling?” I inquire, already knowing the answer.  To which she replies with eyebrows raised, “I’m feeling better,” as if surprised at the outcome.

No Coincidences

Stories are all around me. Sitting in the waiting room at a local lab in Humboldt County, California where I live, a woman next to me explains how her 45 year old daughter is getting an MRI done for a brain tumor. The woman was confined to a wheel chair with multiple health issues, including chronic pain, depression, and PTSD for a past trauma. Her daily prescription cocktail consisted of more than 20 pharmaceuticals and for the most part she was bedridden on a daily basis. One thing led to another and I informed of my work and my own healing with the plant. Both the woman and her mother were Cannabis patients, only smoking to relieve symptoms and complications from numerous prescription meds, as is the norm, but bud is expensive and they couldn’t always medicate as needed.

To make a long story short, within weeks I was able to introduce them to a local dispensary for its “Compassionate Care Program,” and today (some months later) she is out of the wheelchair, had progressed to a walker, and is now walking of her own volition. She’s also done away with more than 10 prescription meds to date.

Can I get a witness?

The minute someone is educated on this plant, lives are changed. And I don’t say that lightly. While the psychoactive properties of the plant can be challenging, lower percentage strains are being hybridized and grown everyday now, with real medicine being made with lesser or non-psychoactive effects. Safe access is crucial in getting the medicine to the masses in legal and medicinally legal states, but even the best dispensaries need to know about ingesting and provide many options for many ailments. Once someone knows the benefits of this plant, they are compelled to share. All we have are our words.

These are mine: The Lord as my witness, I will Evangelize Cannabis until the last non-violent, failed Drug War patient is released. I will sing this truth to the heavens until God smiles down upon me with thanks for praising his good work. Though I may be called a conspiracy theorist, I will walk through the valley of Cannabis and know that it is good. Amen.

Educated Stoner – High Art: Cannabis & Muse

A continuation of the work of freelance journalist, producer and cannabis advocate, Sharon Letts.  We encourage our readers to check out more from sharonletts.com as she documents her experience with cannabis from beating cancer to remedy recipes, essays and books to video and podcast interviews, and much more. Twitter: @SharonLetts

When I became pregnant with my daughter at 29, I sadly left the herb behind to be what I thought was a responsible and upstanding single mom. At 13, my daughter was diagnosis with Fibromyalgia, an auto-immune system malady causing chronic pain and other debilitating complications. By 16, she couldn’t attend school, couldn’t play softball or do any of the physical activities she loved. When she was 16, a friend acquired a small bag of weed off the black market for her to try, stating it would help ease the pain. I rolled a joint for the first time in years and we sat in the garden, puffing and passing. She didn’t like the euphoric feeling from the THC and that afternoon we spent a full three hours thrift shopping until the effects wore off. So, there I was with this little bag of green. What to do? I was sorry I couldn’t help my daughter, but after all those years of abstinence it made me feel just as good as it did years prior. I decided to forget about the stigma, created a workshop in the garage and let the muse in.

An earlier diagnosis of Thyroid Disease had me 50 pounds overweight, and smoking soon found me walking my neighborhood with a camera, bringing home broken bits of things, becoming an assemblage artists in the process. Cannabis speeds up metabolism and in a matter of weeks I was dropping pounds. You’d think I would have gained more weight by smoking, but contrary to popular marijuana myth, the plant actually got me up off the couch and out into the world again. I started smoking again in spring and by summertime I had stopped watching television, lost the 50 pounds, gained some muscle back, pitched a tent in the garden and slept out under the stars until the rains came in the fall. Yes, my muse was fully activated. I loved smoking again! What fun, what pleasure! I could check into my little workshop, take a few hits and create to my heart’s content. My day job of writing for television prospered, as well, as I excelled creatively and professionally. Yes, everything I’ve ever written has been done fully medicated – be it for television, dailies, weeklies, or magazines.

It’s how I connect with that place. I don’t know how it works and I don’t care, I’m just grateful. My newfound health had me yearning for a different life and soon my daughter and I made the move to Northern California and Humboldt County, where she enrolled in college and I began writing for newspapers. Humboldt County is synonymous with Cannabis and I slowly realized that most of my co-workers above and below the administrative line were involved somehow in the industry out of need, as Humboldt is a rural area and the hunting, fishing, and lumber industries were a shadow of what they once were. Minimum wage jobs beg subsidizing, and savvy residents grow, trim, and make product to get by. And though I’ve never grown, I’ve learned the ins and outs of this region and its estimated 14 billion dollar industry. As a features writer covering human interest stories in the county, when the daily newspaper I was writing for began to lay off staff, I was the first to be let go.

But the muse persisted, and soon I began writing a series for a local weekly titled, “Behind the Curtain”, with a play on words of the “Redwood Curtain”, the protective shroud that keeps Humboldt so very rural and cozily covert. Published prior to California’s failed attempt at legalization via Proposition 19, it put a human face on the Nor Cal grow scene, detailing the ins and outs of living and working in a grow house and all that implies, as the neighborhoods of the area are changed forever supporting an indoor scene. The series also began my newfound career in writing about Cannabis as medicine, and today I write internationally on the subject, penning many stories each month for magazines profiling everything to do with good medicine. Smoking made me feel better physically, but it also helped me find my artistic center once again – and that, in turn, made me emotionally happier.

At 50, I could not have found my medicine at a better time, for that’s when the body begins to change and weaken and Cannabis acts almost as a “Fountain of Youth,” if you will. It’s a rejuvenator of the body and rights the wrongs that cause us to have myriad modern day ailments that seem to lead everyone to pain, depression, and deathful disease. And for finding one’s muse, it’s a must, with the moral of this story being, if you have found your medicine smoke-up, eat your weed,  be happy and healthy and your weed will never let you down.

Educated Stoner – My Journey: A Life Gone To Pot

Sharon Letts is a freelance journalist, producer and cannabis advocate.  We encourage our readers to check out more from sharonletts.com as she documents her experience with cannabis from beating cancer to remedy recipes, essays and books to video and podcast interviews, and much more. Twitter: @sharonletts

I grew up in the 1960s and came of age in the 1970s on the beach in Southern California. Drugs were no stranger to the cultural environment, with the social norm of day drinking. At times our home was one big cocktail party, but thankfully, alcohol wasn’t a draw for me. Nor was tobacco at 13, mushrooms at 15, acid and assorted uppers and downers at 16, or cocaine at 19. I was and am a pot smoker, period. The first time I smoked a joint was in the wee hours of the morning in a gas station bathroom with my sister and a friend on our way to high school. It was 1975, I was 16 and when that bathroom door opened it was as if I was seeing the world with different eyes – with my third eye fully opened for the first time. Up until then school had been difficult for me. An undiagnosed processing problem went unchecked as I appeared to be a good student, but could barely pull a C in most classes. After smoking Cannabis I did better in school, as my concentration improved drastically.

It was as if I was ADD and weed was my Ritalin. I began reading like an alphabet hungry animal, wrote Haiku and poetry, and was first published at 19. As a bonus, I no longer needed to take liver damaging Midol for menstrual cramps, but did not realize how badly I actually needed it for emotional issues until menstruation turned to menopause in my 50s. When I became pregnant with my daughter in the late ’80s, I stopped smoking the herb altogether, thinking it was the responsible thing to do. This decision was not based on the benefits of the herb at all, but on the stigma of the day. When my daughter was an adolescent, I lied to her about my past use, thinking it would give her permission to use drugs – a common belief held by fellow moms at the time. When California State Proposition 215 was on the ballot in 1996, I voted for it and was happy it passed, but didn’t rush out to get a card. Throughout my daughter’s life, I’d partake if it were offered at a party or friend’s house, but I never kept any in the house.

It wasn’t until my daughter was 16 that the herb came back into my life in a positive way. She had been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 13 and had suffered terribly when a friend acquired a small amount on the black market for her to try. I rolled a joint and we sat in the garden, passing it back and forth. My daughter was a straight A student, an All-Star softball player, and a D.A.R.E. kid. She wasn’t interested in drugs at all and did not enjoy the euphoric feeling from the THC. That afternoon we spent a full three hours thrift shopping until the effects wore off. That night I made her a cup of tea before bed, hoping she could just go to sleep and get the benefits of the plant as she slept, but again, she did not like the psychoactive effects of the THC, which is activated with heat. If I had known about juicing leaf with no psychoactive properties I would have made her a smoothie, or cut some leaf up for a salad – as she was used to eating from the garden. But that was more than 10 years ago and non-psychoactive deliveries weren’t commonly known or shared at that time.

Today my daughter has overcome her ailments and is a nurse, helping others. Her first degree was in Plant Sciences and she has a good understanding of homeopathic medicine, making her own tinctures and tonics out of medicinal plants. Would I encourage parents to help their children with Cannabis? Yes I would, and do often. It’s a harmless herb, albeit for the strength of the THC, but that fades with time as the patient gets used to its effect. And just as we as a species have upped the THC count through hybridization, we are now bringing it back down again, with CBD rich strains more readily available, and good medicine to ingest being made all over the world. I’m sorry I could not help my daughter at the time, but grateful her ailment brought the herb back into my life. Since then this old stoner has learned a few new tricks about the ancient herb that turned my life around at 50. From recreation to medicine, that’s the story of Cannabis in my life. Who knew a stoner from the ’70s would be helped so much? Stay tuned for more sharing, caring, and loving the herb. For this Cannabis Evangelist is ready to puff, puff and pass some pretty dank knowledge.

Cannabis Saved My Life

Guest writer Adrienne Lynch bravely tells us about her life to date and how, despite ongoing mental health issues and related physical conditions, she was able to come off of debilitating prescription medications and to live a full, purposeful life, thanks to cannabis. It is a written testament to the potential for cannabis to completely transform lives for the better. Twitter: @AdriennevLynch

CAUTION: The following piece includes details about trauma, abuse, addiction, suicide and various conditions which some readers may find distressing.

My life has not been an easy one growing up. I suffered childhood abuse, sexual, physical and emotional. This left my mental health and body in a bad way starting in my teens. I suffered with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, PTSD, agoraphobia. I could not function. I couldn’t keep any of my commitments. My life was just not working out. I have lost count of the amount of times I have tried to kill myself. I first tried when I was only 8 years old. I slit my wrist in two places. I didn’t get the places on my arm right thankfully but that is how tortured I felt as an 8-year-old in this world. My life then turned into an endless nightmare of visits to doctors and hospitals. Towards the end of my teens I started to develop an auto-immune disease and Fibromyalgia. Prior to this I had been a highly active person. Taking part in sports and theatrical activities. Always doing something but then that all stopped for me. I was put on prescription after prescription.

Struggled then with an addiction to sleeping tablets as I had been put on a dose twice the recommended amount for about 5/6 years. This in conjunction with all the other meds I was taking was just flooring me as a person and not giving me the ability to be able to live my life to the fullest or at all. I was barely living. I tried to kill myself so many times my mind would disassociate, and I wouldn’t even remember doing it. I even died once and I was brought back with a shot of adrenaline. I don’t know if anyone reading this understands what it is like to have adrenaline shot into your body. It burns everywhere, every nerve ending feels like it is on fire from head to toe. That was scary but not the last attempt. When I was in my mid 20s I had been reading more and more about medicinal cannabis. I had tried it a little when in Amsterdam and with some friends but never really thought about it. I started using Cannabis to try and include it with my other medicine to help. Eventually 3 years ago I came off all prescription meds for sleeping, for anxiety and for depression. I changed to using just cannabis. It took me a year to fully come off medicine. 

This has given me a life. I spent so many years dying every single day inside and wanting my life to be over because it was just too much. When I say cannabis saved my life I am in no way joking. I have a child now to care for and cannabis is the only thing that keeps my body functioning. Due to all of the different medications I was put on over the years and without any follow up or checking on me from professionals, my stomach now does not function correctly. If I eat without cannabis I will either be doubled over in pain or start vomiting. It helps me sleep, it helps me exercise and it helps me to be able to leave my house, something I struggled with for years. I am a very ambitious and hard working person. The outdated stereotypes we hear about cannabis need to stop. We need to be spreading accurate information as this could help so many people. Now I am studying for my degree and I am doing so well at it. I honestly can’t believe the difference. I get up every single day and I want to be here; I want to live and I want to grow old and watch my daughter grow.

I know now I can do this but my medicine is and always will be cannabis. Now I am stuck being a criminal, having to buy from people I don’t feel very safe buying from, especially as a female. It is a scary world. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been attacked on the streets of Dublin and I do not feel protected by the Gardaí in Ireland. I had to get my photos taken after one of the assaults, they took photos of my naked and bruised body. Then this morning I read about how 1a Garda videotaped a woman who was mentally unwell and shared the naked video of this woman, who went on to kill herself and yet the Garda in question still has his job. So for me the only thing that keeps me healthy is cannabis and my own home country is making me a criminal. There is nothing ethical about how the government is handling this issue. The scare mongering and false information that I see about cannabis on a daily basis is just so heartbreaking. How can they print such lies?

Ireland is locking up decent people for a medicine and making people live in fear just so they can have the medicine that works for them, that keeps them alive, and I mean that literally in my case. I am studying the medicinal uses of THC and CBD in the human body. So I am not ignorant to benefits it has. I do live in fear and stress about what will happen if I get caught with cannabis and this is just a horrible feeling and I just don’t think it is right. We need to see change happen. So many people would benefit and if you want to look at it from a capitalist point of view it would help out the economy in a huge way. That could help with social housing and bring down the impact alcohol has on the health system in Ireland. Given that this plant is non-toxic and the same cannot be said for alcohol, we need to see fair and safe access for both medicinal and recreational cannabis.

References:

1 This story is covered in more detail here: https://bit.ly/2TCD0gs