Seán Moncrieff: Cannabis oil seems to be taking Ireland by storm, but no one knows the dangers
There’s little scientific data on what effect, if any, CBD has on people and in Ireland, it is unregulated
You may remember the Jetfoil. This was a craft which looked a bit like a ship with a massive water-ski stuck on the front. It was based on some adaptation of jet technology, and like many new things, was the way of the future. It was so futurey that in 1980, B&I bought one, named it Cú Na Mara and put it into service on the Irish Sea.
The idea was that it would be cheaper than flying, but quicker than the traditional ferry. B&I built the Jetfoil terminal on the quays of the Liffey – then a rather run-down part of the city – and waited for the queues to form. But alas, they didn’t. The Jetfoil wasn’t that quick – three hours to get to Liverpool – and it was a bit too delicate to deal with the Irish Sea. It was regularly out of service. By the following year, the Cú Na Mara had moved to Japan and changed its name to Ginga.
But the terminal remained for some time afterwards – and it too was referred to as the Jetfoil. But going down to the Jetfoil didn’t mean taking a trip to Liverpool. It meant going to buy hash. The way it would work was that a young man would loiter on a street corner just across from the street from the crumbling Jetfoil building and mutter “looking for hash?” to other young men pretending that they just happened to be out for a stroll in this desolate and sometimes dodgy part of the city.
The verbal exchange would be very brief. The customers would be looking for a 10-spot, which cost 10 pounds, or a 20-spot, which was actually two 10-spots. You get the gist.
Eventually a car which was circling the block would pull up. Rather like a drugs ice cream van, the loitering man would hand in the money, and receive the tinfoil-covered resin. The customers would quickly walk back towards the centre of town, tingling from their brush with criminality.
There’s barely a shopping centre on this island that doesn’t have a stand flogging CBD
That part of Dublin is now stuffed with the shiny boxes of capitalism, the Irish pound is gone and you can barely get a packet of fags for €12.70, don’t mind illegal drugs. Anyway, cannabis doesn’t seem to be as illegal as it once was. Many parts of the world have legalised it, for medical or recreational uses or both. Irish farmers might start growing it soon, and there’s barely a shopping centre on this island that doesn’t have a stand flogging CBD.
CBD is suddenly a very big business, touted as a cure-all: for anxiety and depression, pain of various sorts, symptoms of cancer, heart health and even acne. CBD isn’t the same as pot. It’s taken from the cannabis plant but it’s only cannabidiol. It doesn’t contain THC – the fun substance people would walk down to the Jetfoil to get – and cannabidiol has little direct effect upon the brain. But apart from a lot of anecdotal evidence, there’s precious little scientific data on what effect, if any, CBD has on people. In Ireland, CBD is unregulated. Yet this is now a multibillion-euro industry.
I’m not arguing here for a moral panic. And I don’t want to be a hypocrite
Cannabis for recreation has also changed. The Jetfoil hash has been replaced by far more powerful strains of weed, yet the research into it is also scant. Again, there are a lot of anecdotes and indications, good and bad. But if it were legalised in the morning, we simply wouldn’t know enough about what its long-term effects might be.
I’m not arguing here for a moral panic. And I don’t want to be a hypocrite. My account of what happened at the Jetfoil is indeed suspiciously detailed. And some people with debilitating conditions say CBD or medical cannabis has changed their life. I’m simply arguing for a bit more information. It might be good to know.