As with many countries, the legality of CBD in Ireland is certainly a grey area. This oil, which is often in the spotlight due to its apparent medicinal properties, definitely has its fair share of controversy in the EU and beyond, but what are the specific laws surrounding it in Ireland? Here, we share the details.
What is CBD and is it Legal?
CBD is a cannabis plant extract which interacts with receptors in the body. Research has found it to reduce stress, relieve pain, help with mobility issues, boost the immune system, and even assist with weight loss. With this in mind, you would assume that CBD would be legal in Ireland, but due to being derived from cannabis this is not always the case.
There are two types of cannabis plants that are widely considered when it comes to CBD: hemp and marijuana. The main difference between these two plants is that hemp has low levels of THC and high levels of CBD, whereas marijuana has high levels of THC and low levels of CBD. THC is the psychoactive constituent of cannabis – the extract plant that gets people high. When taken from the hemp plant, CBD products contain very low amounts of THC – usually no more than 0.3% – but many still see it as being the same as marijuana, which is where the grey area around CBD product in Ireland comes from.
Is CBD legal for medicinal use in Ireland?
For CBD to be legal in Ireland it would need to be granted medicinal status, but this is not the case at present. A report published in 2017 highlighting the benefits of CBD for medicinal purposes resulted in medicinal cannabis being made legal in Ireland, but it was not given medicinal status which means that it’s still not readily available. CBD can be prescribed by doctors on a case by case basis for a limited number of reasons, including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and chemotherapy.
What the 2017 report into CBD product did do was provide a gateway to the country’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme. This programme has been put in place to regulate controlled access to cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes whilst following the legislation in place. Cannabis-product providers are required to submit their product for approval from the programme, and if it is accepted it will then be legal for medical professionals to use this with patients where other treatments have failed.
Can CBD be used as a food supplement in Ireland? Is that Legal?
When CBD has been derived from the hemp plant and contains less than 0.2% THC it can be bought to be used as a food supplement. Those selling CBD products cannot advertise it as having any medicinal benefits due to it not holding medicinal status, it can only be sold as a food supplement. A CBD product with over 0.2% THC cannot be bought for recreational purposes as it falls under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
A barrier to being able to sell CBD products as a food supplement in Ireland is that it has to have been extracted in a specific way due to EU policies. The oil cannot be derived using methods such as CO2 extraction as this can lead to the enrichment of substances that the EU Commission deems as being bad for an individual’s health. In fact, the only extraction technique allowed by the EU is cold pressing, which doesn’t always remove all traces of THC – meaning that the oil wouldn’t be suitable for sale in Ireland anyway.
You will find that there are shops in Ireland which will sell CBD products in vape kits, gels, and extracts, but there is uncertainty around whether their products are legal or not. As a customer, you’re not at risk when you buy a CBD product derived from the hemp plant with less than 0.2% THC in it, but the safest option is to aim for those that contain no THC at all.
Growing hemp in Ireland
You are able to grow hemp in Ireland if you hold a hemp license from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). This Irish agency is responsible for regulating everything from medicines to clinical trials, and it was this agency that produced the 2017 report which led to the inception of the Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme. If you will be producing CBD products from the hemp that you grow, this will need to be extracted using the approved cold pressing method as highlighted previously.
Yes, the legality of CBD in Ireland can be difficult to understand, but there are certainly steps taking place which could ultimately make this oil more accessible to those who require it for its medicinal properties in the future.