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Dublin: 13°C Thursday 28 October 2021

European Ombudsman 'touched' by Irishman who can't bring medicinal marijuana home

The Ombudsman tells an Irish citizen with MS, living in Amsterdam, that he is not entitled to bring medication home with him.

THE EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN has told an Irishman living in the Netherlands that he has no automatic right to visit Ireland if he brings his medication for MS – which includes cannabis – with him.

The Irishman, who is not named in the Ombudsman’s documents, lives in Amsterdam and is being treated of multiple sclerosis, with medication including cannabis which is legal in the Netherlands.

He had been seeking permission to visit his family in Ireland without being arrested for possession of the drug which is outlawed in Ireland.

Having twice been refused a guarantee that he would not be arrested for possession of the drug, the man complained to the European Commission saying that his right to travel under the Schengen Agreement was being impeded by Ireland.

The Ombudsman ruled, however, that because Ireland was not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement – the agreement which creates a single travel area without internal border controls – his right to travel was not being impeded.

Because the European Council could not enforce Ireland to be bound by the agreement, Ireland was therefore “legally entitled to continue to apply its Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 without regard to the Schengen acquis,” the Ombudsman found.

The Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, did concede that he had been “deeply touched” by the case and said he had informed both the Irish Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, and the President of the Irish Human Rights Commission, Dr Maurice Manning, inviting them to take up the case.

Diamandouros indicated, though, that while it was his understanding that there was nothing to stop Ireland from exercising humanitarian discretion to allow the Irish citizen bring his drugs home, it was up to the Irish authorities to make an exclusive decision on the matter.

The Ombudsman’s decision was made on March 19 and was publicly published earlier today.

Ireland and the UK have so far resisted becoming parties to the Schengen agreement given their own arrangement including borderless travel between the Republic and Northern Ireland.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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