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Home > Dail Eireann debate. Cannabis Regulation: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Cannabis Regulation: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]. (06 Nov 2013)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/debates%20a...


The following motion was moved by Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan on Tuesday, 5 November 2013:  

That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to introduce legislation to regulate the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland.
 
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
 
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
 
“acknowledges that the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland is regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984;

recognises the body of clinical evidence which demonstrates that cannabis misuse is detrimental to health;

notes the significant physical and mental health risks associated with long-term or heavy use of cannabis and usage in young people;

recognises that legalisation of cannabis, which is known to be a "gateway drug", would potentially lead to increased levels of experimentation with drugs by young people;

notes that cannabis is subject to international controls in the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances and Ireland is a party to these international conventions;

recognises that leniency in cannabis control could endanger the overall international effort against drugs; and

supports the Government in its determination to maintain strict legal controls on cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland.”

-(Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Alex White).
 
 
 
 
I have heard the argument that cannabis, weed or hash, whichever description one uses, is not that bad. It is said it does not affect people that much. Hundreds of thousands of people in society use it or abuse it every day. However, because something is common practice does not make it legal, nor does it make it right. I have some sympathy for the argument in favour of decriminalising cannabis. I understand the consequences for young people who are caught with a few spliffs, which can affect the rest of their lives. However, if we were to use the same argument, one could suggest we should decriminalise joyriding or other activities in which young people engage. The way to tackle those who have been caught on the wrong side of the law for what some would term minor offences is through the introduction of legislation on spent convictions. For someone who at the age of 15, 16 or 20 years got caught up in illegal drug use, there should be a way out for them in the future in order that they are not condemned to suffer the consequences of their mistake forever and a day.
 
There is another side to illegal drug activities in society. It is for that reason that I caution against any change. People have benefited from a lack of seriousness in tackling drugs in society. There has been the lack of a proper planned approach to drugs in terms of the criminal aspect of it and mental health issues such as self-awareness in schools. The ones who have benefited are the drug dealers. The legalisation of one drug will not prevent them from plying their trade. I have no truck with the argument that the hash-head down the road is okay, that he is only selling hash and does not sell anything else. In my constituency and right across this city those who sell hash are the same people who are bringing guns, heroin and cocaine into the country. Everybody has seen the consequences of that trade for young people who get caught up in violence and intimidation, who are in prison or will end up dead as a consequence of drugs wars or being in debt to a local drug dealer for money owed for weed or cocaine. These are the facts of what happens in communities. We have seen entire communities destroyed as a result.
 
People say the war on drugs has failed. I do not believe it was ever fully declared by the State. This is an island nation and we could have done a lot more to prevent the importation of cocaine, heroin and hash. We could also have done much more in catching young people at an early age to ensure they did not become dependent on any drug, whether legal or illegal. We could have done a lot more to ensure education was properly focused. Currently, no drugs unit is attached to Kevin Street Garda station, yet it is an area that is one of the hardest hit by the drugs scourge in this city. The problem relates to promotions and a lack of replacement, but there is no drugs unit in the area. During the years there has not been sufficient concentration within the Garda Síochána on drugs units. Neither has there been sufficient concentration by the State on the funding of drugs task forces. For example, once again in the budget, the Government has introduced a 7% cut in the budget for those who are specifically tasked with addressing the problem of illegal and legal drug use. Only a few years ago under a Fianna Fáil Government it was decided that drugs task forces should also deal with the alcohol problem. I do not have a problem with this, but the budget was not increased accordingly and ever since funding for drugs task forces has been cut. One could ask what kind of message that sends to those involved in trying to highlight the dangers of drugs when the Government continuously cuts the funding allocated I urge the Minister at the very least to rethink the 7% cut announced in the budget.
 
 
[To read the whole debate and vote, click on the link above]

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