It’s been two years since the Irish government took action to end the so-called “drug epidemic” and this year saw the first significant success in its campaign to legalise medical cannabis.
But there is a significant catch: the supply chain needs to be overhauled.
In a report published this week, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that cannabis supply chains need to be revamped to deal with the new regulatory environment.
“This means the supply of cannabis is now largely dependent on what is sold in the market,” says John Daley, an OECD research associate and co-author of the report.
“The supply chain should be more efficient, but also more transparent and less vulnerable to manipulation.”
It is important to remember that there are two types of cannabis: “raw” and “finished” varieties.
Raw cannabis is made by processing cannabis plants in small batches in warehouses.
They are then dried and then dried again in a kiln, producing a “finished product” which has been dried again and then processed to produce a final product that can be smoked.
“These processed products are sold in dispensaries or shops, but they are not processed into cannabis products,” says Daley.
“They are only sold to cannabis consumers in a regulated way.”
Daley says there needs to a new system of pricing and tax, which would require the cultivation and production of cannabis plants to be taxed.
“That would require a change in the structure of the system,” he says.
“Cannabis consumers will be subject to the taxation system for their cannabis products, which will mean a higher price for their products.”
However, the tax system will not change, and will continue to be based on cannabis being sold to people, in a “market”.
“The price that consumers pay is based on a number of factors, such as how much the product is worth, the age of the product and the quality of the cannabis,” says David Byrne, director of policy at the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
“In the short term, this may lead to higher prices and higher taxes, but this will not have a significant impact on people’s ability to access cannabis.”
Byrne also says that if there is no change in taxation, the number of retail outlets will grow.
“There will be a lot more outlets that will be selling cannabis in a legal and regulated environment,” he said.
“People will be able to go to a store, buy cannabis and consume it.”
However he also points out that it is important not to assume that the tax and regulation system will change.
“I would not recommend that people who are not involved in the legal cannabis industry are not going to go into the legal market,” he adds.
“But the system is not going anywhere.”
However a lot of people are unsure about where to buy their cannabis.
“If you go to the supermarket, they are going to charge you a price,” says Byrne.
“You can go to one of the more organised cannabis markets, and they are also going to be charging a price.
The prices are going up, and that is just going to create a lot uncertainty.”
“I think there is also a lot people who may not realise that this is going to affect them,” he continued.
“We are not trying to put them off the market, we are just looking at the situation.”
Dyson explains that it has a number more retail outlets across the country.
“It is important that the government is taking this seriously and ensuring that it addresses the root causes of the problem,” he continues.
“Otherwise we are going down the road to a society that is more drug-free.”
It would be beneficial if cannabis was legalised, he says, and not just in the US.
“A lot of cannabis-related businesses will have to close down,” he warns.
“For example, if you go and buy cannabis from a licensed producer in Australia, you will be paying a licence fee.”
Daleson and Byrne agree that if the government legalises cannabis, there is still a long way to go before cannabis can be consumed legally in Ireland.
“Right now, there are no legalised cannabis shops in Ireland,” Daley said.
But it will be up to the market to decide where and how to sell it.
“My understanding is that the market is very fragmented and that the cannabis industry will be affected,” Byrne said.
As well as legalising cannabis, Daley and Byrne are calling for changes to Ireland’s cannabis laws, including the regulation of the legal sector.
“What we need to do is to get this regulatory framework in place that would have to include a requirement for a market, and the market would have the power to determine who gets to sell to whom,” says Paul Daley from the Legalise Cannabis campaign.
“Where the market decides who sells to whom, then the system can work.
But I would say that we need a clear system of regulation in place.
The regulatory framework needs to work, but we need the right