Johnny Green: Growing Pot For Peat’s Sake


From top:  turf being stacked for drying for domestic use on the Bog of Allen in County Offaly; Johnny Green

Bord Bia estimates Irish dairy exports at 3.4 Billion in 2016, with the EU and UK at 1/4 each or less than one Billion .

The EU medical cannabis market in 5 years is estimated at 100 Billion. For Ireland to grab that scale in the medical cannabis space it would only need to hit a 1% share of the EU market.

Malta is on track to smash its target of 1% or 1 Billion by 2020, with 46 cultivation applications received, 20 issued LOI’s creating 700 full time jobs.

Malta’s opportunistic government and PM passed medical research, cultivation laws last year along with its medical access program.

Fine Gael appears determined to sabotage any chance for Ireland at FMA (first mover advantage) in this 100 Billion new market, confining Ireland to importing expensive finished products, dispensed by pharmacists, Ireland needs to start growing.

With leadership and vision a target of 5% market share or 5 Billion is not overly ambitious for Ireland, dwarfing Ireland’s dairy industry which is about get a punch in the mouth from Brexit, but FG has a plan.

Given the widespread public support for medical cannabis in Ireland, it was decided that perennial loss-making polluter Bord Na Mona should be front and center.

It has  just reported additional losses of 50 million, while investing a paltry 10 million in new business, Malta has received over 100 million in capital commitments to kickstart its nascent medical cannabis industry.

Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Canney with Minister for Health Simon Harris nodding along, claims with BNM…

“…the possibility exists that [Bord na Móna] could do it for other governments and other countries, This could create a lot of jobs.”

This would be comical except its the Irish state is losing in this latest FG omnishambles. The Irish government has no strategy, vision or a goddam objective and plan for the cannabis market, be afraid for Brexit, very.

The EU market will be 100 Billion in 5 years, BNM invested a pitiable 10 million into new ventures, it doesn’t have the expertise nor capital to design, build and cultivate ‘vast’ growing ops in environmental war zones.The Ministers are giving false hope to workers losing their jobs and those in fear, deliberating misleading people.

BNM can participate in this new industry, in the green energy end or a JV, but all this kite flying is crowding out, serious discussion about the lack of legislative progress, required to start growing and cultivation in Ireland, at either micro or industrial scale, deterring inward investment.

Malta, meanwhile, is leaving Ireland in the dust, with laws passed and a strategic plan involving multiple stakeholders to establish Malta as the medical cannabis capital of Europe. The Irish government’s plan involves new minister and rookie TD Canney advocating and lobbying for loss making BNM.

The plan is to convert state-owned, redundant peat bogs into ‘vast’ cannabis farms, this has never been done but that has not deterred Sean from his half-baked misinformation campaign.

Malta seized the opportunity when legislating for access to medical cannabis to pass laws allowing for research, cultivation, extraction and export of medical cannabis, Fine Gael and Minister Harris did not.

Fine Gael has not addressed the production of medical cannabis and products, Malta did while FG Ministers were meeting lobbyists flogging finished product and the board of Ireland’s biggest polluter and perennial loss maker BNM.

Canney and Harris have persuaded them to undertake a two year feasibility study, according to the Irish Times:

“Both Mr Canney and Minister for Health Simon Harris have met management at the semi-State company in recent weeks to discuss the possibility that Ireland could manufacture its own medicinal cannabis supply, and also export it.”

Any chance of a ‘ feasibility’ study on empowering patients by issuing them growing licenses for say 6-10 plants, micro growing? Thought not.

In March 2018, Malta passed ‘The Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Research Purposes Use Act’ which legalised the research, cultivation, extraction and export of medical cannabis, Ireland has no such proposed legislation, nothing going on.

The Malta PM has supported this green job creating-machine, approved projects will create capital expenditure of 110 million, ten times what BNM spent on new projects for a 1% EU share by 2020.

Last November, Malta hosted the Medical Cannabis World Forum, it sends government reps to international conferences promoting itself as an ideal EU headquarters, cultivation and research location, its engaged with the space.

As the law stands – per Arthur Cox – cannabis is listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, as amended, (the “Acts”), meaning cannabis products are subject to the strictest level of control.

Unless used for research, forensic analysis or as an essential material in an industrial manufacturing process, the manufacture, supply, distribution and/or possession of cannabis is illegal.

In other words you can not grow or cultivate medical cannabis in Ireland, no more than BNM can export it and create all those jobs in the midlands.

Harris has persistently stated that it makes sense for Ireland to have its own supply, but has done absolutely SFA, except encourage the fall guy Cannery who continues to frighten away inward investment, while also stifling domestic growing with all his BNM noise.

Malta is busy getting on with business, FG are turning cultivators/growers away with this nonsensical position of fully supporting medical cannabis cultivation and research, but not just yet…..

Simon Harris needs to grow up and really start the Irish medical cannabis sector with legislation allowing cultivation, before its too late.
‘Does it make sense to grow your own in Ireland rather than be dependent on importing a product?’ Harris was asked last year

“I think, quite frankly, it does,” he replied.

he Roll Up column by Johnny Green will attempt to keep Broadsheet readers up-to-date on the growing cannabis industry worldwide. Follow Johnny Green on twitter for even more updates.


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31 thoughts on “Johnny Green: Growing Pot For Peat’s Sake

  1. Pip

    “confining Ireland to importing expensive finished products, dispensed by pharmacists”
    Sure how else will money be med?

  2. eoin

    Was cannabis to be downgraded to Schedule 2? I thought some recent regulation accomplished that?

    1. Johnny Green

      Do you have a link Eoin:)
      Personal possession or industrial scale distribution and sale a la BNM ?

      1. eoin

        Sorry Johnny, I was referring to medicinal cannabis. But won’t recreational cannabis also be dropped one level? I’ll look at it later, I’m sure I’ve seen medicinal cannabis was being downgraded, so applicants for licences will have much lower hurdles to overcome.

  3. millie st murderlark

    Really, really love your articles Johnny. They’re shaping up to be one of the better weekly features BS has done.

  4. Listrade

    There’ll be lots of prohibitive measures on this. We should except that licencing will be through certain “main” companies and no room for independents.

    Ever been up to NI and popped into Boots/Tesco (retailers with ROI presence) and seen the own brand generic medication going crazily cheap? Ever wondered why we can’t get home brand paracetamol or anti-histamines for a euro in their stores down here? It’s nothing to do with there being no market or appetite for it. They’d love to. It’s all generics it’s fine, it’s just sold at prices way lower than even the basic generic paracetamol etc we can get.

    So why isn’t it here?

    Answers on a post card. Hint it has nothing to do with the retailers not trying to introduce the generics. It has a lot to do with prohibitive costs charged by the IMB and considerable lobbying by manufacturers and Irish Pharmacists.

    How do we think it’ll if there’s to be licences for growing and processing cannabis?

  5. Anomanomanom

    We will look back at this as Ireland missing out on green Gold. We have an abundance of perfectly good land to grow cannabis on. And if the figures are correct, even getting 2-3% of the total market would be huge.

  6. Cian

    The numbers don’t add up.

    In your first article you mentioned Colorado (pop 5.7 million) where cannabis (both medicinal and retail) is currently legal. Medical sales in 2018 were $332m and recreational were $1,213m. (a 20:80 split). This is actual sales data[1].

    If you convert this to €, and assume the same uptake for the 508 million EU citizens, then this would equate to €27bn medicinal, and 98bn recreational. To get to €100bn medicinal in 5 years you either need to charge five times as much, or prescribe 5 times as much.

    And on the recreational side, according to an EU report in 2016[2], the estimated “illegal” usage of cannabis amount to only €9 billion per year (range €8 to €13 billion). Are they underreporting the cannabis usage by a factor of 10? Or is European illegal cannabis cheaper than US legal cannabis?

    [2] chapter 3

      1. Cian

        According to this ( the EU Pharmaceutical spending[1] across the EU was ~€275bn in 2017.

        That is €530 for (all prescription medicines) each man, woman and child.

        If you are correct and medicinal cannabis is worth €100bn, that would be €200 for each man, woman and child.

        I have serious doubts that this is correct.

        (saying that, it will be a massive market, and I agree that Ireland should try to corner as much as possible.)

        [1] Pharmaceutical spending covers expenditure on prescription medicines and self-medication, often referred to as over-the-counter products. In some countries, other medical non-durable goods are also included. Pharmaceuticals consumed in hospitals and other health care settings are excluded. Final expenditure on pharmaceuticals includes wholesale and retail margins and value-added tax. Total pharmaceutical spending refers in most countries to “net” spending, i.e. adjusted for possible rebates payable by manufacturers, wholesalers or pharmacies.

        1. Johnny Green

          Cian-sorry just rubbing my crystal ball here-its a straw-man argument a red herring, ok your right its only going be half then say 500 billion,so FG is blocking reaserach,growing and cultivation because the projected market is to small:)
          C’mon man be better its only getting tested/researched in these areas and showing amazing results….-in the treatment of a wide range of diseases and symptoms including cancer, chronic pain, depression, arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, migraines, epilepsy, MS, AIDS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, Parkinson’s, Tourette’s, etc-
          So no research in Ireland why no growing why no extraction-WHY was FG captured by nickel and dime small time pharmacies who want profit of a plant that any dope can grow at home ?
          Canney is small time,hes listed in the Dail as a mom and pop resi landlord,he has a can do,lets bootstrap it,outdated ill educated paddy attitude-ah sure we can grow and export vast fields of it on the devastated eco disaster bogs-dope.

          1. Cian

            Johnny, please continue to post. This is a discussion that needs to be had.

            I agree with your analysis of the potential for new business opportunities in Ireland. I agree that we could capture 5-10% of the EU market, where we differ is the size of that market. I also don’t think it is the silver bullet to curing all ills – but more research is needed (and I’m 100% behind additional research into the positive benefits)!

          2. AJ

            “but more research is needed (and I’m 100% behind additional research into the positive benefits)”

            This comes up time and time again from people who are either opposed or ambivalent towards more liberal use/availability of medical cannabis (I do realise from your comment that you are not opposed, just to note). In actual fact, however, there is no medicine or pharmaceutical product that has the longevity of use that cannabis has – time is the great tester and cannabis has passed that test. Medical cannabis tinctures were used for the treatment of pain and nausea throughout Ireland (and just about everywhere else in the world) for centuries (if not more). It was only in the 1920s and 1930s (in Ireland, 1934, with the passing of legislation) that this stopped. No coincidence that this was around the time that Pharma (capital P) was becoming big business.

            Disclosure: I am involved in research and campaigning in this area but would still like to think I am reasonably objective.

          3. Johnn Green

            Thanks Cian,i always welcome and like you comments by the way, totally agree on the numbers they merely projections about as reliable as Irelands GDP ones:)
            No go bid on Sandy’s Grease hot pants and help fund cannabis research.
            Best bit research i came across recently-its a long read but excellent work,Ireland has it all to be a major player in this space,its hobbled by inept politico’s like Sean Canney,who should say in his lane and stop talking nonsense about something he knows SFA about, he was a teacher at some poxy third rate technical college FFS,now he’s fooking up a 100 (50) Billion once in a lifetime opportunity.


  7. Johnny Green

    Summer loving happened so fast, the quintessential Cali blonde 70’s icon,who’s image adorned many Irish bedrooms is auctioning off her pants from Grease to fund cannabis reserach,oh boy….

    “To help with research, the four-time Grammy Award winner is auctioning some of her famous outfits including the iconic black trousers and leather jacket from the 1978 hit Grease as well as gold shorts and top from her 1981 ‘Physical’ album.”

  8. Cathal

    Acidic soil, constant rain, cost of security, full of notions I think. Brainfried hippies who can’t count.

    1. millie st murderlark

      Well Cathal, by all means, present your own informative and well researched counter argument to Johnny’s articles rather than relying on tired old cliche’s about something you more than likely know absolutely nothing about.

  9. some old quare

    Question: In what way is the cultivation of medical cannabis different from what Irish companies already do to grow for the production of CBD oil and juice?

    1. Johnny Green

      -besides being totally different plants and one is legal…
      We not aiming for weed 101 here SOQ,rolling for a higher level of debate try google :)

      1. some old quare

        Sorry Johnny- I have searched and I still don’t understand why the current Irish growers cannot produce the required strain and standard.

        Like most reading this blog I have no idea how the commercial CBD and medical cannabis farms differ- perhaps you could run a 101 just this once?

        1. Johnny Green

          NO-but I may find you a link last week,it was about smelly weed-now it’s CBD-we don’t follow hemp-I can do a piece on full spectrum CBD/THC but I know nothing about non THC /CBD-nor do I want to..
          Next week is on home growing,or how grow the best stinky sticky weed.

          Ps-bit early for requests :)

  10. Johnny Green

    Tilray who received a lic from the Minister to import horribly expensive finished product into Irl,just announced a major expansion at its EU Headquarters in Ireland,sorry Portugal:)

    “Tilray’s EU Campus also serves as a hub supporting Tilray’s clinical research and product development efforts across Europe. The site currently employs more than 150 people, with production ramping up and multiple harvests anticipated in the coming months. In April 2019, Tilray hosted an official ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of its EU Campus.”®-increases-international-export-capacity-new-outdoor-cultivation-site#.XUsG3AHnCNM.twitter

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