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Ireland medical cannabis conference to set agenda for change

Patients for Safe Access aims to set a national agenda for reform to Ireland’s cannabis laws



Fresh moves to reform Ireland’s cannabis laws a welcome ‘first step’
Campaigners will attend a national medical cannabis conference in Dublin

Patients and campaigners will meet in Ireland this weekend, with the aim of creating a national agenda to improve access to medical cannabis. 

A host of high profile campaigners and patient advocates will attend a national medical cannabis conference in Dublin on Saturday 11 June.

The event, which is being held by the Irish campaign group, Patients for Safe Access, aims to tackle the lack of safe access to medical cannabis in the country, which sees millions of patients forced to break the law or suffer without a treatment which could be transformative for them.

Taking place at The Sugar Club, Dublin, guests will discuss and adopt a national policy agenda that aims to steer Ireland towards a more effective and compassionate medical cannabis programme.

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Speakers include well-known advocates for reform in Ireland, such as Gino Kenny T.D, addiction specialist, Dr Gareth McGovern, and medical refugees and campaigners, Alicia Maher and Stephen Garland, who have been forced to move abroad to access cannabis. 

Representatives from the UK, including Peter Reynolds, of the Cannabis Industry Council and Carly Barton, founder of Cancard will also share their insights with attendees. 

Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme got underway last year, but only allows people living with one of three qualifying conditions to access a limited number of products. 

These conditions include intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, severe treatment-resistant epilepsy and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Since its launch, campaigners have criticised the programme for excluding widespread conditions, such as chronic pain.

Patients For Safe Access was founded by medical cannabis patients and caregivers in a bid to overcome barriers to access, end stigma and discrimination against patients, and educate stakeholders on the science and benefits of this medicine.

Its founder, Martin O’Brien, originally from Cork, has been living in San Francisco for the last 30 years and played an active role in cannabis reform in California.

He told Cannabis Health that the goal of the conference is to “bring people together”.

“There’s an awful lot of people in Ireland who believe in cannabis, but like we were in the past in California, they don’t seem to be united,” he said.

“One of the goals of the conference is to bring all these like-minded people together, into an energy space that will facilitate and allow for the growth of each individual organisation, as well as the movement in general.”

O’Brien, of Foxworthy Farms, founded the Patient’s Care Collective in Berkeley in 2001, now the longest continuously operating medical cannabis dispensary in America. 

He added: “There is no doubt that cannabis is a powerful medicine, but education is what’s needed.

“The national policy agenda outlines things such as unfettered access, access for chronic pain, and increasing the conditions for which people can get reimbursed by the state for their medical care.”

As well as safe medical access, the agenda will cover the economic and environmental benefits of a regulated cannabis industry for the country. 

Following the conference, attendees will take a vote on the final agenda to take the movement forward. 

“We want to energise the people to get involved in shaping the policy,” continued O’Brien.

“The goal is for continued conferences and continued communication, in order to ratify the change that needs to happen and to form a powerful nucleus group.”

He added: “Cannabis is empowering, once you realise what it can do, and what hemp can do for the planet. You can’t believe that you have been lied to all this time by governments. But in my experience there has to be a lot of noise to draw attention to it and push them into making change.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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