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Bord na Móna could take up responsibility for growing Ireland's medicinal cannabis supply

Junior Minister Sean Canney has discussed the prospect with the company’s management.

Bord na Móna is looking to diversify into new markets.
Bord na Móna is looking to diversify into new markets.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

BORD NA MÓNA could take up responsibility for growing Ireland’s medicinal cannabis supply, according to Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development Sean Canney. 

The junior minister told TheJournal.ie that the option of the semi-state body growing the country’s supply in the future has been discussed with the company’s management, but it is at the “very, very early stages”.

“A huge array of options of how to go from a brown to a green company are being looked at,” he said.

“It is very much at the project phase at the moment”, but “the option of medicinal cannabis being grown on the site is being considered”, said the Galway TD. 

Last year, Bord na Móna announced staff redundancies of up to 430 employees. 

Need to diversify

As Bord na Móna plans to completely end peat energy usage by 2028 and move into renewable energy production (like wind farms), the company is on the hunt for ways to diversify into new sectors.

Health Minister Simon Harris told this website last month that Ireland could own its own medicinal cannabis supply in the future. 

In an interview for The Explainer podcastTheJournal.ie spoke to Harris about whether Ireland would one day grow its own medicinal cannabis. 

He said he has a “very open mind” about Ireland doing so, stating that his “gut feeling is [that] it should”.

The minister went one step further, indicating that the State or the public health service might end up owning its own medicinal cannabis supply. 

“I don’t necessarily think it would have to be a matter of Big Pharma, it could be well be that Ireland Inc would decide to own its own supply and that the public health service could own its own supply, or indeed that existing state companies and the likes could decide to diversify into this space,” he said. 

Sustainable Development Goals report Minister of State Sean Canney says it would be ideal if Ireland could own its own supply of medicinal cannabis. Source: Photocall Ireland

Medicinal cannabis is a market that Bord na Móna should tap into, said Canney, who added that “it is a great opportunity” with “lots of potential” .

‘It can work’

Though it might be in the early stages of exploration, the junior minister said “it is something that can work”. 

If we do decide to grow our own supply of crop, it is an ideal way of doing it. For me, it should be controlled, and in a controlled environment. If the State have control of it that is the best way to do it.

It would create a secure source of supply for the State.

“It is very exciting as far as I am concerned,” added Canney.

Before anything could progress with growing medicinal cannabis on the 80,000 hectares owned by Bord na Móna, Canney said a number of steps must be taken first. 

“Feasibility studies and research into whether it is possible will have to be done first, and a licence to produce it here would also have to be applied for,” said the junior minister.

The Department of Health told TheJournal.ie earlier this year that while legislation currently prohibits farmers or any other industry from growing cannabis, this policy could change. 

“Policy to date has not permitted the cultivation of cannabis for medical use and no licences have been issued for this activity.

“However recent developments on access to cannabis for medical use may prompt a review of this position in the future,” said the department.

Canney said he has spoken to the health minister about the prospect of Bord na Móna growing medicinal cannabis, stating that Harris is “open to look at it and open to progressing it”.

Canney has already spoken to the company’s management about the issue, while Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton has also paid a visit to the site. 

“It is about trying to create and replace jobs in the community,” Canney said, stating that Bord na Móna is a good example to other companies as to how to diversify. 

He said Bord na Móna is a “brave and bold” company that is “right at the centre of the community in the Midlands”.

Canney said while the land is a huge asset, so is the skilled workforce. 

“We want Bord na Móna to become the model for other companies who are also looking to change their business model to create more green jobs and revenue.”

Other areas the company is looking to diversify into are fish hatchery, forestry, renewable energy such as wind farms, and using the site for data centres and energy parks. 

 

 

 

 

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