It’s 4.20…Here’s Johnny!


Johnny Green

Is he a herb?

Is he a plant?

No, he’s Johnny Green.

Mild-mannered JohnnyNYC by day.

Caped cannabis crusader by late afternoon.

The stoner we deserve.

Fake reefer news is his kryptonite.

Literally high flying.

You get the picture.

Johnny writes:

The science has been well settled, proved, tested, tested again, debated, argued, calculated, counted, and taxes returned.

There can be no more sneering at its potential, nor can the inevitable need for proper and honest legislation for Irish Weed be ignored.

Last week Solidarity People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny reintroduced medical cannabis into your news cycle, that was conveniently spun off by a dismissively immature response from your Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

So, the first question for Broadsheet readers to ponder on, was this the outcome of bad manners, or was it a deliberate strategic ploy

Slightly more than two years ago, Simon Harris, The Irish Health Minister announced that Ireland would create a medical cannabis programme for its patients who couldn’t be helped by the existing conventional treatment for their health conditions.

From April this year: The Irish Government revealed that it has finally identified and issued an import license to a Danish medical cannabis firm.The license was reportedly issued back in January.

My other questions for Broadsheet readers are;

Why was this initiative not launched into the public domain as aggressively as “Welfare Cheaters Cheat Us All”?

Why has the Media not opened it up and spread it out like a cheap carpet at a street market?

Why is Simon Harris not sharing the details of the license granted?

And why are all these discussions and inspections internal to his department?

While in my honest opinion I do not believe there to be any smoking gun here, certainly not the arsenal around a Rural Broadband Tender, but I am compelled again to ask: why the secrecy?

This column is not intended to promote one market over another, recreational over medicinal, but until it is widely prescribed and the cost of the alternatives, including the provision of front-line services are factored in, deciding on a valid and genuine figure could be reckless.

Obviously, we can only estimate the potential size of the Irish cannabis market; however, I work with cannabis growers and retailers in newly legalised markets, therefore I stand over my expertise and qualification to have some reasonableness to the following valuation.

Just this week a confirmed intake of one billion since the introduction of the legislation that legalised cannabis in Colorado (with a population of 5.5 million it provides a viable benchmark on this occasion.)

One billion in Revenue in its first five years. That is One Billion in a new, just out of the ground industry.

It is not inconceivable to any rational mind that domestic output and earnings in Ireland could match a similar value, with tourism activity alongside exporting to the EU; a market not available to the growers in Colorado, all on your own, and without the need for National Children’s Hospital level spend and timeline.

For the pedants circling this column, let me recreate a value per head to match the given example of Colorado’s experience.

$1,000,000,000 / 5,500,000 = 181.82 per person.

Yesterday’s count in the Republic of Ireland is 4,845,530 and yesterday’s US$ closing price .8899

4,845,530 x (.8899* 181.82) 161.80 = 784,006,754.00.

Or as Vanessa Foran might say 784 million yoyos.

Ireland already has it all to grow on a large industrial scale and export a simple Seed-to-Sale cannabis industry, like what the Irish Dairy Farmers achieved with “Kerrygold.”

All you are missing is the political will and vision, and the transparency that needs be demanded for what is comfortably a three quarters of billion euro industry, and an industry that can generate income within months of legalisation and with little investment, start-up costs, or the need for tax exemptions and grants; or those pesky KPMG reports.

It is for these reasons that I am being deliberately provocative about Simon Harris’ shyness with the licence granted to a Danish entity.

Irish Cannabis is a potential clean energy multi-million revenue industry, on its own, and at all levels of market participation.

Nor are the additional benefits of the mentioned medical treatment and prescription savings that the Irish State has proved again and again it is not capable of controlling, or fit to manage, to be underestimated and taken lightly.

Yet Simon Harris is given the charge of signing away Ireland’s chance of growing its own cannabis, selling its own produce, providing employment, extracting employment taxes, along with an Agri sector desperate for alternatives to beef and dairy farming.

This licence, even though the ink is dried, must be opened up to the public, and at the very least examined and questioned without restrictions by the Public Accounts Committee.

Everyone else seems to be watching what Simon Harris is doing, and here is my final question; why aren’t you?

Johnny Green will attempt to keep Broadsheet readers up-to-date on the growing cannabis industry worldwide. Follow Johnny here on twitter for updates.

Johnny Green illustration by Alan O’Regan

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47 thoughts on “It’s 4.20…Here’s Johnny!

  1. eoin

    Will read later Johnny but

    “Why is Simon Harris not sharing the details of the license granted?”

    Anyone can apply for a licence for a controlled substance to the HPRA. The licences are *never* published. You can apply for a cannabis licence today but as it’s schedule 1 you’ll face more rigorous vetting than when it’s downgraded to schedule 2 shortly.

    1. Johnny Green

      Hi Eoin,it’s regarding the only import license for cannabis granted in January,patients and caregivers still have travel Holland get their medicine.
      What was the point and why all the secrecy around who the company is,how much are they charging for the medicine,why was a import license issued prior any legislation,was their any tender/competition,etc.
      It’s potentially billion euro domestic market that license is worth an awful lot now,who are the shareholders…
      Is the legislation now being written to reflect terms agreed in this license…

        1. Johnny Green

          Hi Al,here’s the minister in Dec-2016

          ‘Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that although he has concerns about some elements of the bill, he would not oppose its progression to Committee Stage.
          Mr Harris asked the Health Products Regulatory Authority to advise him on the scientific and clinical value of cannabis as a medicine.
          He said he wanted to receive that advice from the agency before progressing the legislation any further‘

          Despite all this he went ahead signed a exclusive import license without any legislation,but no one knows with whom or what it encompasses,only in Ireland.

  2. SOQ

    along with an Agri sector desperate for alternatives to beef and dairy farming.

    I was just thinking that as I was reading. All this hand wringing about omissions and not one mention of the elephant in the room- farming. Further more, the orders for agri products from Britain is going down month on month since the beginning of the year which means the meagre profits from beef and dairy are being stripped away- and Brexit hasn’t even happened yet,

    Where I would disagree with Johnny is on not making a distinction between medicinal and relational. IMO they are two separate arguments and one is a lot more likely to succeed than the other. But even with that, why are Irish farms which currently produce high quality CBD oil and juices not being licensed to produce medicinal?

    Meanwhile across the water- GW Pharmaceuticals, a company whose largest investor is the (ex) PM’s husband, Philip May, has received FDA approval for Epidiolex, a new cannabis derived drug that doctors will be able to prescribe from November, 2018.

    1. Johnny Green

      Hi SOQ,the suggestion that makes some or no sense is to have a semi state involved,a modern day version of Irish Sugar (Greencore)-incubate the business then float it or spin it off.

      ‘Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development Séan Canney has confirmed that he met with Bord na Móna management to discuss the company’s proposal to grow medicinal cannabis on bogland in the midlands‘

      1. Al Bin Man

        I think there should be one license for one plant- multiple use . We’re that stupid we think the government can tell us how much THC to take? This is gibberish. Let anyone who wants grow a plant or two

  3. Cian

    Great first article Johnny.

    FWIW the medical sales in 2018 was $332m and retail was $1,213m. (a 20:80 split).

    If you convert that recreational to euro per person, that is €196 for every man, woman and child. The stats also say that 14% of adults smoked in the last month… so it would be ~€1000/smoker/year or €20/week

    1. Johnny Green

      Hi Cian,there hasn’t really been much effort done by the MSM to project the size of the domestic market,I think it will be close 1 Billion sales annually,combination of med and rec.

      Just a quick update yesterday both the WaPo and NYT had pieces,the comments are also quite interesting.

      WaPo-this debate is getting played out in the letters section IT was covered on here Saturday.

      NYT-some great links in both articles.

      1. Clampers Outside!

        Thanks Johnny…. I’ll have a look… when I grow another arm for doing stuff I used to do :)

    1. Johnny Green

      In Colorado,growers ended up sucking 3% from the grid as there were no restrictions then,this had a big impact on other states.Massachusetts now restricts the lighting you can use in growing,so most growers are going ‘off the grid’ we use hydro,solar and co-gen (natural gas) and the grid just for parking lot lighting.So it can be a green or alternative energy industry,up to the politicians.

      I looked to Australia as a comparison to Ireland,started on same road at same time,they now are exporting and no longer having import-the Minister for Health.

  4. Tom

    I know some poeple that have ruined their lives from weed. One suffering serious psychosis.

    But yeah It’s wonder plant full of happy times

    1. The Real Shrimply Pibbles

      Every drug used incorrectly is capable of great harm. But should sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis be made to suffer or be forced to turn to criminality to get the medicine they require because some people misuse a drug? I don’t think so. It’s time to have an honest and open debate about the merits of, at the very least, decriminalisation od cannabis.

      1. Tom

        I agree it should be decriminalised but just sick of the fanatics who are saying it’s a miracle drug.

        1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

          I haven’t heard anyone say it’s a miracle drug
          Only you Tom

          But the arguement stacks up
          Legalise and regulate
          And get the farmers growing

          Let’s give ourselves an export market that’s more than dairy and meat products
          Or Viagra
          An indigenous 100% Irish owned entity

          A very strong point Johnny Hamptons makes is about how questionable it is that this decision rests with the Dept of Health and Simon Harris – who can’t even get a Tertiary Hospital out’ve the ground without it running amok

          This is a matter for Ag, Justice, Finance, Trade Enterprise – whatever it is Heather Humphreys d’ be at
          I suppose Shane Ross will need a say too

  5. newsjustin

    If people really believed in the importance of the medicinal benefits, in serious cases, of cannabis then they wouldn’t be trying to lump the recreational use of the drug into plans to allow for medical use.

    We allow opiods to be used in medicine. I’m totally fine with that. And I’d be fine with cannabis derived products used, where evidence exits to back up efficacy, in medicine. Actual evidence though, not “cannabis oil cures cancer” facebook nonsense.

    I’m not keen on simply regulating another damaging drug for recreation and giving the impression to people that the state thinks it’s not bad for them, or even that it’s good for them.

    1. Al Bin Man

      You’re a good man

      The concern for people literally dripping off when you say you’ve no problem with people being addicted to and prescribed opiates by a corrupt pharma medical complex

      1. newsjustin

        Ok. I was thinking of the principle of prescribing things like morphine for people suffering with cancer. Focussing on the positive. I know there’s been misuse. My point is I’m ok with the use of an opiod for serious pain release even if it’s related to a “bad drug” like heroin.

    2. Johnny Green

      Hi Justin-by scheduling it as Class A it prohibits research hence the paucity of evidence from long term trials, but so far initial trial results have been very encouraging.Here is a summary of the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) report and the actual report,prohibition has simply not worked and when you compare the medical grade marijuana available now,to ‘black market’ or guerrilla grows its like comparing moonshine to a fine single malt.The illegal weed on the market today is way more harmful and dangerous than any regulated, taxed and tested weed, its often sprayed with pesticides,has mold,etc.

      1. Cian

        That report is interesting. I don’t know if they are playing down it effectiveness, but “Appendix 6 Review of Effectiveness and Safety” summarises some research into medical cannabis and, having a quick read, the research isn’t all that conclusive.

        As it says many times: “further research is required.”

        1. Listrade

          Is that your reading of the whole report or the summary. The actual message is more clear in not just that report, but also EU reports.

          The benefits of CBD in specific cases isn’t really up for debate any more. It has been demonstrated to be effective. The question (at EU level) is more of a defining “medicinal use”. This is all being debated at the moment (as is a larger discussion at the UN, based on WHO recommendations). The main point of mentioning this is that the implication is that it seems to be stoners pushing for decriminalisation, whereas half the EU has legalised medicinal use and the entire EU is currently engaged in a two-fold debate.

          First, defining medicinal use so that specific policy and guidance can be issued on what constitutes “Medicinal Use” in order to eventually legalise across the EU. It wants a clear regulatory framework and labelling (EU loves labels). It needs to guarantee dosing and quality. The further testing aspect is on some areas of medicinal benefit that don’t yet have much research.

          That tag of “more research” is used in every single medical and scientific report for anything, because no scientific research is 100% infallible. But it is also used by too many to portray the areas where efficacy has been demonstrated (Germany legalised medicinal use, a country with a strong Pharma industry, it felt that efficacy had been demonstrated for specific conditions) as being open for debate.

          Second, consistent approach to lowering or abolishing decriminalisation of cannabis. It’s potentially a huge market for the EU. Of course it’s thinking about that.

          If I were a gambling man, I’d say we’d be there soon on both counts. Enough of the more influential states have legalised medicinal use (we’ll probably have a system similar to Germany, which is a relatively reasonable and restricted one), but I suspect the potential €115bn (EU own predictions) market is an influence. My second bet would be that this, rather than malice, is behind the government dragging its heels on this. There are enough in the government who support it, but too many old timers and too many thinking about votes if they pass it. However, if they can blame the EU and say they have to do it….they aren’t the bad guys.

          There’s also practical reasons for holding on. No point establishing a system that doesn’t fit the EU (again though not too much of gamble to mirror Germany), no point establishing lab testing and labelling that may be redundant or way out of scope in a few years.

          For those who like a toke. It’s coming, the money it generates will see to that. But we’ll be waiting at least another year for final EU policy and then probably another five for transposition of any policy. Medicinal use may come sooner.

          1. Vanessa the Holy Face of Frilly Keane

            Hi Listrade

            All of that plus a few 000,000,s

            Last April 12 months I predicted legislation/ legalisation within 5 years
            Of course the old school politicians, whose principal focus will always be on securing re-election on their own terms, will use the EU to slide behind

            But the next Dáil will sign this off and roll it out pun absolutely intended btw
            Which makes Johnny’s questions even more important
            Why is it currently held tightly and undercover within the Dept of Health?

            I reckon its because Fine Gael want to keep the issue to themselves, and control the roll out; and the tender process.
            Without the likes of People before Profit or their Confidence Suppliers getting a look in.

            The diversity opportunity for Agri
            The Medicinal benefits and cost savings
            The Retail and Tourism bumps (now that they’ve saved the Hotel industry with cosy rates and cosy VAT treatments)

            But more importantly; the spondoulies in the seven noughts region
            They have every intention of securing as much of that windfall for their own
            As well as securing their future

            I’m going to leave ye with a few questions of my own;
            Who is the next leader of Fine Gael?
            And who is his Brother?

          2. Listrade


            For now I’ll give the benefit of the doubt in that anything introduced now might need overhauling if/when EU legislation and guidance comes out. Probably best to wait until that direction is more clear.

            But…the cynic in me agrees with you. The main people set up for growing are nice independent people. Probably not FG or any other party faithful. Licences will be drawn up and probably issued to the same people and same companies as always. The role out will be based on helping those people get set up and to the front of the queue while making it difficult/challenging for the independents to operate (like raiding shops every week that are selling legal, lab tested CBD products). I’d have to be a complete cynic to suspect some orchestration behind that to start undermining independent growers and retailers as some more politically friendly people get set up.

            Good job I’m not a cynic.

        2. Cian

          The summary literally starts with “To date there is an absence of scientific data demonstrating the effectiveness (efficacy) of cannabis products.”

          My summary of appendix 6
          a. Spasticity
          The HPRA considers that there is evidence that oral cannabinoids are an effective treatment for spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, where other treatments have failed.

          b. Nausea and Vomiting in the Context of Chemotherapy
          “The HPRA considers that there is evidence to support the effectiveness of cannabinoids in the treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, where other treatments have failed.”

          c. Epilepsy
          “The HPRA considers that there is not currently evidence that cannabinoids are an effective treatment in epilepsy. Randomised controlled clinical trials have yet to be published. However, the management of severe, intractable epilepsies that are resistant to multiple anti-epileptic medicines is an acknowledged unmet medical need, and subject to a policy decision, patients with these conditions, could be facilitated in accessing cannabinoids as a medical treatment.”

          d. Chronic pain
          “The HPRA considers that current evidence does not support the use of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain. The HPRA does not consider that there is an unmet medical need as a large number of authorised medicines, and other treatments are available to treat the many factors involved in chronic pain.”

          e. Anxiety
          “The HPRA considers that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of cannabis or cannabinoids in the treatment of anxiety.”

          f. Other Medical Conditions/Indications
          “Cannabis and cannabinoids have been proposed for the treatment of a large number of other medical conditions. The HPRA considers that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of cannabis or cannabinoids in the treatment of these conditions.”

          On a personal note: I’m not anti-cannabis – I would love to see the decriminalisation of cannabis. This would lead to more (and easier) research into the medicinal benefits. I would also like to see the recreational use decriminalised too.

          1. Listrade

            @ Cian, that doesn’t contradict anything anyone has said. It has been demonstrated effective in MS treatment, chemo nausea treatment and EU policy has cleared it for treatment for AIDS sufferers (weight loss). This is all factored into the Germanic system. The issue of epilepsy is that it depends on the epilepsy and Germany is specific in stating that medicinal cannabis can be used where all other treatment fails. That’s not unreasonable.

            The other aspects of pain relief (personal anecdote is it has helped me…but I’m happy to admit to possible placebo), anxiety, etc all require more study. My issue is that in that report the use of “more study” is used across the board when there are specific medical conditions where the efficacy is pretty much done and dusted. So much so that half the EU has legalised medicinal use. Do we really think Germany, Denmark, Finland, etc have lower standards than Ireland for medicine?

            That’s why if find that report and it’s summary disingenuous. It’s using unproven cases to cast doubt on proven cases. Cases that have convinced the EU that it should prepare for medicinal use. And when someone says the whole area requires more study it makes me think it’s them who needs to do more studying and not taking snippets from a summary.

          2. Al Bin Man

            This is complete

            And utter unformed BS

            Why not tell us again about the energy related emissions from agriculture?

          3. Listrade

            It’s a well known, but not insurmountable problem. A kilo of weed could take 5000kwh to produce. Not far off equalling 5 household’s monthly consumption. Escalate that to cater for demand and it’s an issue.

            And in the whole climate change policy we’ve seen, it’s been very weak on agriculture. The current impact of agriculture in Ireland is huge, not industry, not us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do something. Colorado has, it has grants for energy efficient equipment, renewable energy sources and water reclamation. The less you have, the more tax and the more your Bud costs and the less people want to buy it.

            Nothing stopping that system here, or even right now with any of the food business growing indoors/tents. Doesn’t stop cows farting, but can control what we grow.

  6. Johnny Green

    They are opening the second clinic in London,one already opened in Manchester which can dispense medical marijuana.

    ‘London’s first private clinic promising faster access to medical cannabis is to open in Harley Street.
    Its backers say it will offer a “lifeline” to patients suffering chronic pain or neurological conditions who are unable to access cannabis-derived medicines on the NHS.
    The Medical Cannabis Clinics — London will be the second in the country to be opened by ECH (European Cannabis Holdings) Medical. In March it opened the UK’s first clinic in Cheadle, Greater Manchester.’

  7. Ian-O

    The dose maketh the poison.

    So don’t have too much or you might end up eating an entire 6 pack of Sam Spudz smoky bacon all to yourself.

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