Ireland's New Year's Resolution? Legalize Medical Marijuana

As the UK begins to move ahead with medical marijuana, the Irish Health Minister says patients should also expect legalization in Ireland soon.

The Republic of Ireland's Health Minister Simon Harris says he is putting medical marijuana legalization on his to-do list for 2019. Irish polls suggest that over 80 percent of voters in the country support legalization of the substance for medicinal purposes and Ireland's head of state Leo Varadkar has stated his own interest in decriminalizing cannabis in recent months.

"This is a major priority for me and I really want to see this happen in 2019," Harris said in an interview.

Harris was careful to note that new legislation would not allow recreational use.

"This is about using in a controlled way, in a monitored way, with the support of your clinician [for] a product that could ease your pain and suffering after you've tried all the conventional treatments."

Much of the ground work for an Irish medical marijuana program has already been done, revealed Harris. A review by Irish medicines regulators has already been conducted and a group of clinical experts has been established to figure out what the country's rules and regs will be for medical cannabis. In order to roll out he program a little more quickly, Harris says the Irish government will be looking to import cannabis initially until local growers are established.

"What we're likely to do in the first course of action is to try and secure a product," Harris said of his short-term goal. "Then in the medium-terms, talking about growing our own and securing our own supply in Ireland is the sensible thing to do."

With any luck the Irish government will move ahead with medical marijuana legislation in the new year. And hopefully it's a lot better than the failing system introduced by their neighbors in the UK.

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