The tide might be changing soon regarding the cannabis industry in Ireland. There has been a recent buzz among cannabis reform advocates in the country based on happenings in the National Assembly. A recent move by an Irish lawmaker for a cannabis legalization bill is what is getting many excited and there is good reason for it. While many are already thinking about the future, some are still sceptical that anything good can come from it. Read on as we go through all the is to know about the recent bill that was submitted.
Gino Kenny is a member of the People Before Profit Party of Ireland. He is a lawmaker who is also known as a Teachta Dala (TD) and he got into the news recently for his bill for cannabis legalization. The bill seeks to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis by adults for personal use. If the bill is passed, there is be a big reduction in the acceptable limit of possession for cannabis and cannabis resin. The new acceptable limit for cannabis will be 7 grams while that of cannabis resin will be 2.5 grams.
The present Misuse of Drugs Act for Ireland has been in effect since the 1970s. If this bill is passed, it will effect a change to that standing bill and Kenny has said that he expects debate on the bill to occur in 2023. In a debate in the Dail Eireann, Kenny explained that the existing legislation of the Misuse of Drugs Act dates back 42 years. He believes that 42 years is a very long time and that the legislation can now be regarded as out of date and out of time. This is why he believes it’s the right time for drug reforms to be done.
Kenny also explained that the proposed bill is quite moderate and he hopes that the government can support it. He explained that cannabis acceptance has commenced in different regions of the world and Ireland should follow suit. Gone are the days of stereotyping and prohibition, more people are welcoming the medicinal and recreational benefits of cannabis and they are better for it. He believes it is time for the government to look for cannabis reforms which will not criminalize people and reduce harm. He says that he looks forward to the debate on the bill and hopes for favourable results.
In a recent op-ed on November 24, Kenny explained that the bill is more of a decriminalization measure. He likened it to moves made across Europe towards cannabis reforms that are important for coexistence. Kenny showed that the present laws aimed at criminalization have not worked and they have made more harm. He states that the policy of total cannabis reduction in Ireland has been ineffective and this new legislation would amend it. If Ireland accepts this bill, it will join a list of countries in Europe and beyond that are aimed at establishing cannabis reform policies.
Despite the total cannabis prohibition policy by Ireland, it has seen the use of cannabis in the country increased drastically. Kenny pointed to the fact that Ireland has one of the highest usage rates of cannabis in the EU. Statistics have shown that 30 percent of adults aged between 15 and 64 in Ireland have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime. Another statistic shows that 17 percent of the present Irish adult population has used cannabis in the last 12 months. This is more than double the statistic of the European average which stands at 7 percent presently. This and many more were presented by Kenny to show that criminalization and existing laws of prohibition have been far from effective.
Many that have been hearing about the recent proposal by Kenny have developed the idea that it will make the plant legal. Well, that is far from the truth at least from what this present bill seeks to achieve. The bill seeks to remove criminal penalties that are attached to low-level cannabis possession. This will be done by increasing the limit of cannabis that adults can possess. However, the plant will remain illegal and activities such as cultivation and sale will be prohibited. What this means is that the grey market which has been the source of cannabis so far will remain the only source of cannabis in the country.
The bill, therefore, has been seen by many as a mild continuation of existing prohibitory laws. Others however have faith in the bill as a stepping stone for open conversation for total cannabis reforms in Ireland. There appears to be stiff opposition to cannabis reforms in Ireland. The head of the Irish Government, Taoiseach Micheal Martin recently warned that cannabis legalization could make it more desirable among young people. He believes that the more cannabis is glamorized as a solution to most medical concerns, could increase its popularity. This he said while trying to speak on the subject matter.
Martin states that cannabis does great harm to young people according to the reports he has gotten from medical people around him. He states that he is an advocate for the facilitation of medical marijuana if it will be a solution to many of the rising health concerns in the health world. He however believes that the harms of possible addiction should not be completely looked over as we look towards decriminalization.
There are certainly interesting days ahead for the cannabis industry and Ireland. Discussions on the proposed bill by Kenny should commence in 2023 and how far it will go will be seen. Medical cannabis is presently legal in Ireland which shows that the government is not completely opposed to the benefits of marijuana. Hopefully, this new bill will signal the light for new cannabis reforms associated with the adult use of the natural herb in the country.