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Ireland to debate decriminalising cannabis for personal use

Gino Kenny TD says it is time for Ireland to ‘take back control’ and stop criminalising consumers.



Ireland to debate decriminalising cannabis for personal use
Mr Kenny introduced the bill in the Irish Dáil on Thursday 24 November. Photo: Yoshihiro/Unsplash

Gino Kenny TD has put forward a movement which, if successful, would see the decriminalisation of possession of cannabis for personal use in Ireland.

Leader of the People Before Profit party, Gino Kenny TD, says it is time for Ireland to ‘take back control’ of its drug policies and stop criminalising consumers.

Mr Kenny was speaking in the Irish Dáil [parliament] on Thursday 24 November when he put forward an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 which seeks to decriminalise personal possession of cannabis for up to 7g or 2.5g of resin. 

As Mr Kenny’s party is in opposition, the bill is unlikely to pass without the support of the sitting government. However, if successfully approved by the Dáil it would see the first amendment to the Act in around a decade. 

Speaking to the house Mr Kenny said the bill was a ‘number of years in the making’ and that having ‘vastly moved on’ in the 42 years since the Act was brought in, that Ireland was now in a ‘different place in relation to drug reform’.

I believe the existing legislation is out of date and out of time,” said Mr Kenny.

“We need a different narrative in relation to drug reform because criminalising people for small possession of any drug, particularly cannabis, is a complete waste of time. It’s a waste of resources and bringing people through the criminal justice system doesn’t work.”

He went on to address the ‘irony’ that laws intended to act as a deterrent from the possession or cultivation of cannabis have only forced the market ‘underground’ arguing that it was time to ‘take back control’ from the hands of organised crime. 

“A better system is a system that’s controlled by the state,” he continued.

“Whether you use cannabis or not, is irrelevant. We’re looking at a societal issue here.”

A number of European countries have made moves towards more liberal cannabis laws in recent months, with Germany announcing proposals for legislation and Switzerland planning to trial a recreational model.

My Kenny added: “There’s a groundswell of opinion, not only in Ireland but across the world for something very different, a different narrative and a different status quo.”

He also made reference to a citizens’ assembly on drug reform which is expected to take place in 2023, as reported by Cannabis Health last week, alongside other moves towards a health-led approach.

A government task force which was set up to look at mental health and addiction within the criminal justice system has previously recommended those found in possession of certain drugs should not be prosecuted. 

However Mr Kenny described this as ‘lip service’ and called on those who do favour a harm-reduction approach to drugs to support the bill.

He added: “We need to have a grown up discussion about drug use in this country, because for too long people have been criminalised… Giving people criminal convictions for small amounts of cannabis that can follow them around forever, is barbaric.

“We’ve had 40 years of bad laws, it’s time to change these laws and make them good for everybody.”

The bill is still in its initial stages, however it has been welcomed by campaigners as an opportunity for ‘open discussion’ about the longstanding criminalisation of cannabis consumers in the country. 

 A poll carried out by the Irish Examiner today shows that over 77% of respondents support the decriminalisation of cannabis in Ireland.

READ MORE: Fresh moves to reform Ireland’s cannabis laws a welcome ‘first step’

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister titles, Cannabis Wealth and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag


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