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cannabis seeds ireland legality

This so-called “land of the green” has actually been quite strict against cannabis. But now, Ireland is reconsidering its attitude toward cannabis with several proposals to change the law. Here is an Irish writer’s report on the political factors at play.

Controversially, the national broadcaster RTÉ edited an online clip of her speech short. This led to wide sharing of her full speech across Irish social media. This has placed even more pressure on Varadkar to legislate for cannabis reform. There are a number of proposals that have already been put forward, including one where the ball is firmly in the government’s court.

CANNABIS LAW IN IRELAND

In December 2016, an Irish Times/Ipsos poll placed public support for prescribed medicinal cannabis in Ireland as high as 81%. A Red C poll published a month earlier placed support levels even higher at 92%. The Irish public appears to be very sympathetic to the use of cannabis in a supervised medical context. It would seem like a no-brainer for the government to introduce this, especially with all of cannabis’ potential medical benefits. Yet the government is still progressing slowly and trepidatiously on the matter.

Wherever access to cannabis opens up, a community emerges around its responsible use. A more laid back coffeeshop environment could be safer than the amped-up atmosphere of bars, pubs, and nightclubs. The contrast between stoned behaviour and drunk behaviour was even highlighted in Colorado’s **historic legalization campaign. What if instead of making Irish nightlife worse, cannabis actually helped with Ireland’s alcohol problems? It’s even possible cannabis can treat addiction to alcohol and other substances! But is any of this even likely to happen in Ireland?

All the while, an opioid crisis is harming communities throughout Ireland. City streets can often be seen with discarded syringes from heroin-users. With the mounting failures of the War on Drugs, even the Irish government has been thinking things over. They are in the process of establishing Dublin’s first centre for supervised heroin injection—a harm reduction measure practiced in many countries. They have also repeatedly expressed plans to emulate the drug policy of Portugal. Under 2001 reforms, possessing less than a ten-day supply of illicit drugs is no longer a criminal offence in Portugal. The health benefits observed as a result make a strong case for Portugal’s policy, though Ireland has yet to implement it. When it comes to cannabis, a new tide of public opinion may force the government’s hand.

Noel Ahern, Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, insists that British law is actually catching up with ours, that there is already discretion given to both gardaí and the courts.

“There’s a stigma attached to cannabis,” says the spokesperson. “We wouldn’t argue that most people think it should be legalised, but when you look at the big picture you see it hasn’t worked. Besides, this week you can walk around the North with a lump of hash in your pocket without being arrested. Where does it become morally wrong? Is it when you go an inch across the Border at Newry and smoke then?”

It is illegal to smoke cannabis, yet almost one-fifth of the population has done so. Smokers caught by gardaí might be arrested and strip-searched or, if lucky, only have their names taken. The law says that the drug is of no medicinal use and yet cannabis-based drugs are being tested here. It is illegal to grow it and yet four years ago Government-licensed hemp was grown in Co Carlow. And while some claim that the Irish law is a decade behind the UK, the Government says that the UK is catching up with us.

CIA is calling not only for a review of the laws in light of the UK changes but for a move to the Amsterdam model of legalisation in order to take control away from criminal gangs and make the drug taxable. At the moment, it says, otherwise law-abiding people are being criminalised.

“It is by far the most widely used drug, so there’s bound to be more police time given to it,” argues Ahern. “But the vast bulk of that is in relation to dealers rather than the small quantities for personal use. It depends on whether someone is flaunting it, puffing in your face or whatever, but it is not the end of the market that gardaí concentrate on.”