Offaly could become cannabis-growing capital of Ireland
Bord na Mona has not ruled out growing medicinal cannabis on Offaly bogs after commencing a similar project with other herbs in recent months.
A spokesperson for the company, which is winding down peat production with the loss of hundreds of jobs in Offaly, told the Sunday Independent that a medicinal cannabis growing project is being considered.
They are weighing up whether or not it fits with their wider diversification plans and believe, if utilised, could contribute more than 800 jobs in the Midlands.
Therapeutic herbs, such as yarrow and marshmallow, are already being grown at Mount Lucas Wind Farm. They will then enter the pharma industry market.
Medicinal cannabis was not included in this trial due to the lack of a licence. A licence is possible in the future.
Offaly TD Barry Cowen reacted to the news by confirming, "They are looking at alternatives to their core business which is, of course, as a result of an acceleration of decarbonisation."
He added: "They are looking at medicinal herbs, agriculture and also the zoning of lands for the provision of lands for data centres and so forth but my focus is on the fact that Bord na Mona can no longer meet the remit it was charged with by the Fianna Fail government back in the 1940s."
Minister of State for Natural Resources, Community Affairs and Digital Development Sean Canney has said that the possibility of Bord na Mona growing medicinal herbs is being discussed with the company's management, but said it is in the "very, very early stages."
The plans would fit with comments made by Health Minister Simon Harris last month that Ireland could own its own medicinal cannabis supply in the future.
The offset of jobs and land as a result of Bord na Mona's decarbonisation could be addressed with projects, while the company is also planning further wind farms and renewable energy projects.