Irish Are Emigrating in Search of Medical Marijuana

Another Irish immigration to the U.S. is taking place, but this time it is not because of the potato famine or the economic deprivation it caused in Ireland for decades. 

This is the story of Irish people who regard themselves as the first “international medical cannabis refugees” seeking treatment in Colorado.  

Yvonne Cahalane left her small community in Cork, southern Ireland, for Colorado with her 2-year-old son Tristan who suffers from Dravet syndrome and has up to 20 seizures every day. 

Growing desperate, Yvonne launched a crowdfunding page and raised enough money for herself and Tristan to travel to Colorado last December. Tristan is being treated with CBD oil and THCA, and has regained the ability to speak and his seizures have subsided.

Since that time, another Cork mother, Vera Twomey, has thought of doing the same with her 6-year-old daughter who also has Dravet syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form of intractable epilepsy that begins during infancy. 

With around five cases of Dravet syndrome in Ireland and 8,000 Multiple Sclerosis patients, it is becoming more and more common for families to be forced to decide between their home and their health. 

“If I can’t get what this child needs here I’ll have to pick her up and bring her to Colorado, but I just can’t do it, it would break up my family,” Ms. Twomey told the Irish Examiner.

Several days ago, GW Pharmaceuticals announced positive results in from a study of its cannabis-based drug Epidiolex, an experimental treatment for Dravet syndrome. Up to now, there has been no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for this rare ailment. 

Tom Curran is widely acknowledged as one of the leading MMJ campaigners in Ireland. When Tom’s wife was diagnosed with MS, he grew his own cannabis for 10 years, although illegal. The cannabis had positive effects on his wife’s muscle plasticity as well as her quality of life, reported volteface.

Help Not Harm is a medical marijuana campaign in Ireland, which says it has a slow road ahead, despite the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs last November. Unfortunately, the Minister for Drugs Strategy, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin who pushed for decriminalization, lost his seat following elections in late February. 

Nevertheless, the Irish are nothing if not optimistic. “The initial stages of this [MMJ legalization] campaign shows great potential and the people involved are nothing short of inspiring,” said Graham De Barra, Director of Help Not Harm at a meeting in Cork last week.


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