Author Archives: Johnny Green

This afternoon.

Via Tilray:

The Tilray products successfully imported will be made available to qualified patients through the Access Programme once distribution approvals are provided by local regulators.

This will allow patients in Ireland access to a locally maintained supply of GMP-certified products, which they can receive in a reasonable time-frame.

Authorised patients are expected to be able to access Tilray medical cannabis products through the Irish community pharmacy network in the second half of the year.

Catherine Jacobson, Tilray’s Vice President of Medical and Regulatory Affairs, said:

“This development in Ireland represents an exciting turning point for patients. We’re proud to have the opportunity to provide patients in Ireland with access to Tilray’s standardized GMP-certified medical cannabis products, and we’re thrilled to see an increasing number of countries improve access to medical cannabis.”

Tilray® Imports GMP-Certified Standardized Medical Cannabis Oil into Ireland (Tilray)

Thanks Fweed

From top: The Health Services Product Authority (HPRA.) will look after cannabis policy in Ireland; Johnny Green

It’s 4.20.

Heeeere‘s Johnny.

Johnny Green writes:

This week (plus a day) is more than just a follow up to my soft promise  to take a better look at where your Government intends to plant the seeds for cannabis regulation, the Health Services Product Authority (HPRA).

While Government legislators seem determined to retain cannabis licencing within the walls of the Department of Health, what was once Part 2 of Gino Kenny’s Bill appears to have been mischievously co-opted by them for their own purposes.

Here is Minister Harris’ job description for the HPRA’s recent in-house promotion;

In exercising its function, the Authority shall seek to achieve the following 5 objectives—

(a) to regulate the supply and possession of cannabis and cannabis-based products for medicinal use,

(b) to pursue the development of a consumer-oriented licensing system and regulatory code for the users of cannabis and cannabis-based products for 10 medicinal purposes,

(c) to oversee the development of a professional, safe, and well-regulated service for the supply of cannabis for medicinal use,

(d) to have due regard to the needs of users of cannabis and cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes,

(e) to promote measures to facilitate increased understanding and awareness of the use of cannabis and cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes, and

(f) to facilitate the use of cannabis and cannabis-based products for medicinal purposes.

Nice work to win, nonetheless, even for a well-established Authority with a proven track record of delivering their mandate, this new legislation is a game-changer.

Yet it has been signed over to a one that is narrowly specialised, loss-making, and already known for sloppy strategic decisions with its resources.

This isn’t cynicism, I just have too many lingering doubts with an assignment that has all the trademarks of a done deal.

Rather than recognising that other jurisdictions have founded specialised agencies (see Blowback below), or that it was also included in Gino Kenny’s Bill, which by the way, was a Bill that they were still content with to pluck from, we really have to ascertain one thing.

What made the Irish Government think that the HPRA has the wherewithal to regulate a multibillion euro industry across a wide range of sectors from Healthcare, to Agriculture, to Tourism?

Since January 2017 this very same HPRA were already running ahead of themselves when they could barely walk straight with this statement;

“It is not the remit of this review to consider the recent Bill. However, it is noted that it is proposed to regulate cannabis outside of the existing medicines’ and Misuse of Drugs legislative systems. This proposal allows for greater access than recommended in the conclusions of this report and therefore is a matter of concern.”

Even a brief scan over the HPRA website yields some fault lines within their own house.

Last week I introduced you to their annual report, this week say hello to its Board.

Two particular appointments may be of interest; both were signed off by Minister Harris’ predecessor just as a General Election was called.

in his last days as a Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar appointed David Holohan, who at the time was Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at Merrion Capital and a Brian Jones.

The HRPA still lists this director’s day job as Merrion Capital, but Mr Holohan has since joined the Irish wing of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi’s controversial Mediolanum bank, MAML.

Mr Holohan is no doubt a huge asset to the HRPA board and above reproach in every way but this is about perception.

How can you expect the HPRA to be fully transparent if they cannot maintain the records of their directors for the public at large to oversee; how can you trust that their Fitness and Probity procedures are fully compliant?

Mr Holohan, meanwhile, also chairs the charity One in Four which is annually assisted by €800,000 from the HSE.

This is all too close.

Brian Jones, whose profile published by the HPRA states; he has worked at senior level in Public Heath, It is not enough information to advise if he is either independent or suitable. You should know if he is qualified, if is he experienced, if he has other directorships, and be certain he is demonstrably independent.

Exactly by what select criteria was he short-listed for Leo Varadkar’s final say?

Meanwhile, in other news, your EU partenaire are preparing to Roll Out themselves;

“Think tank le Conseil d’analyse économique (Council of Economic Analysis, CAE) published a 12-page report stating a controlled recreational market would allow the country to “take back control” from criminal gangs.”

Should you be wondering, Yes, the report does call for a National Independent Regulator to be created to oversee the production and distribution of Le Cannabis.

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

Blowback: If you think I am being too critical of the Minister and the decision to retain what I am naming Irish Weed with a dicey boffin-heavy quango, here is a string of links from regions that have independent regulators for cannabis, so just see for yourselves:
Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington , Massachusetts and Canada

Johnny Green illustration by Alan O’Regan
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From top: At the signing last week in the Department of Health HQ of legislation to allow for the operation of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme, were from left: John Lynch, Director of Compliance HPRA; Dr Mairin Ryan, Deputy Chief Executive HIQA  and, front  from left: Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne & Minister for Health Simon Harris; Johnny Green

It’s 4.20.

Here’s Johnny Green!

With his weekly ‘roll-up’ of all things ‘erb.

Johnny writes:

Pivoting back to last week’s Roll Up  let’s travel on one of the spurs off the timeline; day two of Vera Twomey’s historic walk, November 2016, and the Minister’s announcement to commission a policy review.  Remember November 2016.

An tÚdarás Rialála Táirgí Sláinte (HPRA for short,) were tasked and promptly produced a set of recommendations to the Minister by January 2017. Remember January 2017.

On  June 26, 2019, exactly one day after my last Roll Up, another entry into our timeline was established; “MISUSE OF DRUGS (PERSCRIPTION AND CONTROL OF SUPPLY OF CANNABIS FOR MEDICAL USE) REGULATIONS 2019

The significance and the scale of the opportunity that legalising cannabis promises Ireland is no longer a matter for the backrooms and smoke-filled lanes of political skulduggery, patronage and party henchmen;.

Yet your Government and your media did not prompt or wonder why 30 months were allowed pass before this photo-op.

An interesting observation came, not from any opposition member or from the establishment media that Ireland continues to salute, it was from that bastion of industry periodicals, The Irish Medical Times;

“The Minister for Health is to have no liability for the use of cannabis- based products under the newly launched Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP)”

In all likelihood this may well have been prompted by their own obligation to put their readers and members on notice of potential professional practice liabilities that they found snuck into the amendments;

 “(7) A practitioner issuing a prescription for a specified controlled drug for use by his or her individual patient does so under his or her direct responsibility in order to fulfil the special needs of that patient.

(8) The fact that a product is a specified controlled drug is not an endorsement of the safety, quality or efficacy of the specified controlled drug and the Minister shall have no liability in respect of the use of a specified controlled drug by a person issued with a prescription under this Regulation.”

For the record, there is not one single recorded death as a result of taking cannabis in THC form.

A Senior Minister, his advisors, and indeed his legislative draftsmen must know that THC is just not toxic enough at any consumable level to cause an overdose. One would be more ill from consuming equal levels of marmalade.

What this should now be telling you is that the Minister took thirty months just to implement contents of that very same HPRA report.

Earlier, above, you might have supposed that the HPRA were efficient and diligent in completing the Minister’s ask within the two months that included Christmas and New Year’s; however hold back on your compliments, if there were any for this Quango of a whole range of interests.

The extracts from the Bill, quoted above, are all I need to know to inform Broadsheet readers that the HPRA took from the UK Barnes Report.

There is nothing wrong with that of course, why not make use of available, verified and trusted research. I am introducing the source only to widen the background into a legal cannabis environment and to provide the debates with actual facts.

is this the current intended legislation as put forward, not letting patients grow their own medication under the Irish programme, whereas it is permitted in the US and in Canada, and since Ireland introduced research and facts from other jurisdictions to form their own reports and base their own legislation on, I think the Irish should be told why?

Why should chronic pain be excluded? Pain Clinics and Pain Management Consultants need to be called upon and brought to the table, along with Health Sector Bean Counters and Pharmacists, and confirm who is the end beneficiary of this legislation? The Patient? The HSE, Or the Suppliers?

Do you need to ask why the study and consultation period for the HPRA report was too short? Is everyone satisfied to rely on the UK Group outcomes and session notes?  I would certainly expect some oversite confirming the credentials and independence of the contributors.

Why is the HPRA opposed to the establishing of a regulatory authority for Irish Cannabis; i.e. Irish Weed. (Germany, the US and again, Canada have.)

Are the HPRA themselves actually qualified to be allowed that assertion?

Is that not a matter for the Department of Finance?

This is where, in my view, there is evidence to suggest that the authors responsible for the HPRA Report attempted to sabotage Gino Kelly’s Bill, in favour of one crafted for their Minister.

In Gino Kenny’s bill, a separate cannabis control commission was presented, yet the HPRA took it upon themselves to diss this component, even in the absence of a mandate or instructions by Minister Harris.

Why would they do that, everyone knows Ireland loves a good Quango.

This is a good authority on the very subject of a regulatory authority, Sir Norman Lamb a former Health Secretary in the UK –

“It is going to defeat our regulatory system if we try and drive it through the system as it is now. My instinct is that we will need a specialist cannabis authority as they have in Germany.”

The HPRA, who were not shy about handpicking some sections of the UK’s recommendations for their own report, took it upon themselves to decide a separate regulatory entity was not required. Now whose interest would that be in?

Which leads us now to the most important question to be answered before any further advances; who are the HPRA ?

A cautionary scan of their 2017 Annual Report, Very quickly advises that they had a 1.2 million loss in the year, and of their 27million takings, 3 million is a top up from the taxpayer.

They do appear to have got burned by some ill-advised and badly timed real estate activities, another drift well outside their remit perhaps, prompting another question, do they really need Dublin 2 offices and a mortgage?

You will note that their accounts are qualified and I see that there is some mess with Superannuation issues.

Celebrity accountant Vanessa Foran tells me this is very common in the Health Sector as SuperAnn Liabilitiy in any one year cannot be valued with any accuracy, the comfort for the Auditors is that it future pension liabilities are underwritten by the Department, so she is confident it is merely a Technical Qualification caused by FRS102.

Early days for me with this mess and it is 4th of July week, so you can expect us to circle back to this again. Particularly the HPRA and what who they think they are or should be.

In summary, the new legislation is a something of a step forward, but you can see by the questions surrounding its creation there are also a good few bigger steps behind.

At the very minimum Ireland should have established a self-funding “Cannabis Control Commission” or at least set about one.

An echo of week one’s Roll Up; but entrusting the HPRA and Minister for Health Simon Harris, who himself has zero industry background, of any sort, with this billion euro industry remains a strategic mistake, that one day may be discovered to be a mistake on purpose; that may come back to haunt him and everyone else too.

But then, Ireland loves a Tribunal just as much as any Quango.

Johnny Green will attempt to keep Broadsheet readers up-to-date on the growing cannabis industry worldwide. His weekly Roll-Ups appear here every Tuesday at 4.20. Follow Johnny here on twitter for updates.

Johnny Green illustration by Alan O’Regan

Rollingnews

 

This afternoon

More as we get it.

Medicinal cannabis being made available under pilot programme (RTÉ)

Yesterday: Johnny Green: From Ming To The Merciless

Johnny Green

It”s 4.20

Pull up stool.

Johnny Green has a story to tell.

Johnny writes:

Once upon a time in the West….

Well actually the year is 1997 and its General Election when Luke Ming Flanagan brought the campaign to legalise cannabis into mainstream politics in Galway East.

Luke adopted the name and look of the character Ming, which for the following decade continued to incite the ‘hey dude’ jaded stoner stereotype.

Luke persisted to openly waft this plume of comic book behaviour with publicity stunts like getting arrested for posting joints to Oireactas members in November 2001;

However, by 2004 Luke was a mainstream politician in Roscommon County Council, by 2010 Luke was Lord Mayor of Roscommon County Council, by 2011 Luke entered Dáil Éireann as a Poll Topping Hero. (Broadsheet readers might be interested to know that he was the only candidate from New Vision) a platform he shared with one John McGuirk no less, to be elected.)

Here is now where our storyline becomes a matter of establishment Ireland; when Luke Flanagan TD, stood up in Leinster house on the first Tuesday in November 2013 and introduced the motion;

“That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to introduce legislation to regulate the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland. “

But the debate that followed promised its result; 112-8 nay:yay; “Not in my Gaff” as the proposer said himself.

There was to be no second reading as the bill lapsed with the dissolution of that Dáil and Luke’s subsequent departure to Brussels.

So all was all quiet throughout the land until 2016. Gino Kenny TD, introduced to you last week, brought his own Private Members Bill to Dáil Éireann.

By that November, the entire country followed and walked with Vera Twomey. Whether they agreed with Gino’s bill or with Luke’s earlier effort, it didn’t matter, every step Vera took was cheered on because she had a cause; and her cause could also be anyone else’s.

Within 24 hours of Vera’s first steps for Ava, Minister Simon Harris said:

’”Today I have announced a policy review in relation to medical cannabis and have asked HPRA to research this. area.”

The Joint Health Committee got their pre-legislative scrutiny underway; barely three weeks since Vera Twomey took the road to Dublin, the Committee Hearing got underway, and days later on the December 1, Gino’s bill was introduced to the Dáil

One calendar month is all it took, from Vera Twomey’s first steps to Gino’s Bill passing unopposed the 1st stage.

By the new year, January 2017: Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) Report was published.

By February, the Money Message element to this Bill entered the debate; since this was never made to the Government and therefore not provided, the Select Committee stage; the Joint Committee on Health Report on Scrutiny of the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016, to give it is full title; balked at further consideration, therefore they rejected the Bill.

The membership of the committee is interesting; it is clear from the report that they were squeamish about the consideration; however, the membership is interesting for the obvious conflicts present; most notably a Pharmacist in retail dispensary and a practicing GP who also chairs the committee.

It was claimed that the Health Committee voted to reject Gino’s Bill on a number of grounds, one being fear over ‘diversion’ or cannabis falling into the wrong hands.

This is the politics of fear, insinuating unsubstantiated dark web style consequences, rather than adjudicating facts and balancing simple pros and cons.

I have been unable to secure any confident information on the vote or votes undertaken by this Committee.  In the absence of the required Money Message to allow the Bill to proceed, the Select Committee rejected the Bill and all but dissolved its terms of reference for the report; so, quite possibly it has not been subjected to further journalistic scrutiny.

That is not my role either, but it is worth asking why Kate O’Connell TD appointed herself as spokesperson for this task when she bears an undeniable conflict of interest; and why her statements have not been interrogated by the opposition or the Media, or even her constituents.

Before we travel further along this timeline, the Money Message requirement deserves to be fully understood.

While it is basically an operating procedure for the Ceann Comhairle and his standing orders rule book; its direction comes straight from S17.2 of the Constitution. It may not have been commonplace until recently as for decades Governments were in a healthy majority position, so it was not generally exercised since they had the numbers to vote Private Members Bills down at the 1st stage.

Simply put, if a private members bill, like Gino Kenny’s, will cause a new expenditure on the Exchequer, and this said item has not been allocated a line item in the most recent Finance Bill, your annual Budget, it has to get a permission slip from the Taoiseach to proceed to 2nd stage, the Select Committee stage.

I am aware that the current Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is very anxious to halt its use by the current Government as a legislative back line,and has actively sought to address it with the current Taoiseach. Unfortunately, like above, Broadsheet readers will have to stay tuned in to watch this space.

So here we are now up to October last year; Gino Kenny TD asked Minister Simon Harris for an update. This all looks like the Government are now providing for Cannabis for Medicinal Use;  But they have nothing to add beyond the disclaimer.

Then you can hard be surprised that Dr Harty, the chair of the Select Committee that confounded the bill within a trifle of mixed messages, asked Minister Harris when the Money Message would be signed off to allow the Bill to proceed; here was a suburb example of not answering a question without anyone noticing.

Yet, since the Health Committee produced its report and that Minister’s question, a budget has been introduced by this Government and voted on by the Dáil.

So why didn’t Gino Kenny, and the Bill’s co-sponsor Bríd Smith lobby for it to be included in Budget 2019? Why hasn’t anyone else?

Or maybe concerned special interests have lobbied to keep it suspended in Money Message purgatory.

So here we are to January 2019, Minister Harris grants a license to import Cannabis.

A recent sitting of the Health Committee which Minister Simon Harris attended heard this from Kate O’Connell:

“I know it has now been halted by the absence of a money message. Eminent psychiatrists, GPs and addiction experts are stating one thing. It would be helpful if Mr. Reid would outline the difference between legalisation, decriminalisation and harm reduction.

I really object to the word “medicinal” being used in respect of cannabis. It is a controlled drug. Until it gains evidence to justify the medicinal name, then we are just dealing with a schedule 1 drug.”

In the meantime, take this stalled Bill up with your local representatives, and figure out a way of getting it into the Health Budget for 2020, and take out the Money Message for good.

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

Illustration by Alan O’Regan

UPDATE:

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