Bord na Móna ‘exploring’ medicinal cannabis growth in bid to decarbonise

Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development Séan Canney has confirmed that he met with Bord na Móna management to discuss the company’s proposal to grow medicinal cannabis on bogland in the midlands.

The move, which he adds, “is in the very early stages of development” and comes on foot of the company’s endeavours to decarbonise, as the country faces up to climate change and the ‘Just Transition’.

Bord na Móna has already indicated that it is focused on creating jobs and new opportunities through renewables, resource recovery and new sustainable businesses.

Minister Canney, meanwhile, who spoke to AgriLand said he believes that, with the appropriate supports and ‘perfect conditions’ on thousands of hectares of peatlands and wetlands across the midlands, medicinal cannabis could very well be grown.

This process, he added, will create “hundreds of much needed” jobs.   

“Both sides are now working on the premise that Bord na Móna will transform from a brown company into a green company,” the minister continued, before pointing out there were 80,000 hectares, in total, at the company’s disposal.

“The company is looking at ways of generating new projects and creating employment in communities across the midlands region.”

‘Under licence’

Minister Canney went on to say that Bord na Móna has been exploring the idea of growing medicinal cannabis under licence.

He pointed out that this, in essence, could lead to Ireland not only generating its own supply for the domestic market, but could also create new markets for export.

Bord na Móna has looked at the idea of growing medicinal cannabis under licence so that maybe we would have our own supply within the country and for export as well.

The minister continued: “This is all at a very early stage – Bord na Móna is looking at a business plan for that; if the plan stacks up then the next stage in the process will include an application for a licence to carry out the associated research.

“That licence would come from the department of health and it would probably take about two years of research for Bord na Móna to take the process to the next level if, in fact, that is what the company would plan to do.”

‘From brown to green’

The Minister of State then explained that because medicinal cannabis is produced in other parts of the world, there is no reason why it can’t be grown here.

“If we are to have a use for it here, then providing our own supply and being in control of what we are doing is the way to go,” he continued.

We might then be able to focus on supplying it to other parts of the world; we need to determine if the conditions are right in the midlands for this.

Minister Canney then pointed to the company’s efforts to decarbonise and warned “it won’t happen overnight”.

“We can’t just stop using fossil fuels overnight; in fairness, it is going to take 20-25 years for such a transition to take place,” he added.

Bord na Móna

Meanwhile, despite attempts by AgriLand, Bord na Móna declined to comment on the matter.

The company added in a brief statement: “There is no statement or information on this.”