THE GREEN PARTY has introduced a new drug strategy policy which calls for the decriminalisation of cannabis, claiming that current laws make “criminals out of decent people”.
The party is calling for the introduction of Dutch-style coffee shops around the country which would allow for the consumption and sale of cannabis to over-18’s under certain conditions.
They are also proposing that criminal offences be removed for people over the age of 18 in possession of fewer than five grams of cannabis, and to allow access to cannabis-based medicines.
The new strategy also proposes that individuals be allowed to grow up to two cannabis plants in their own home for personal use.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told TheJournal.ie that the creation of a coffee-shop culture in Ireland might prompt cannabis-takers to use the drug in a regulated environment.
He added that people are taking cannabis regardless of whether its legal or not and that the current system is “feeding gangland culture”.
Ryan said that a “change of tack” is urgently needed.
“Portugal and other US States seem to be able to decriminalise it without having a massive increase in use,” he said.
“I think Portugal’s approach is a sensible one. They approach it as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. It is far more beneficial to society”.
Launching its policy on Saturday at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) National Conference in the Cork Institute of Technology, Oliver Moran, the party's representative in Cork North Central, said:
“Our policy comes from an aspiration for harm reduction. The Dutch model, with regulated cultivation, is safer than what we have now. Many of the potential objections such as addiction, teenage access, clarity on its medical impact and so on are not addressed at all by the current system.
“But, for me personally, what this policy represents is that it is part of the movement of maturing that's happening in Ireland. The lifting of a veil over taboos and criminality that covered the reality that we already knew was there and that made criminals out of decent people and sufferers out of medical patients. That made men and women feel like they had to act in secret for doing something as normal as taking medicine or having a glass of wine in the evening.”