When it comes to cannabis production, many people believe that policing is a waste of precious police time and resources. Cannabis rights campaigners believe that Gardaí (Irish police) could be using their valuable time elsewhere.
One such activist recently took matters into his own hands in a bid to demonstrate this.
To do this, Irish cannabis rights campaigner, Martin Condon, placed six cannabis plants in a central location in Cork city, Ireland. Mr Condon potted the illegal plants in flower pots and placed them on Shandon Bridge in the city centre. Three days later, Gardaí removed the plants.
This prompted Condon to revisit the same location with more illegal plants in tow. He placed nine plants in a window box and brought them to the same spot on Shandon Bridge.
Mr Condon stated that he would like “to highlight the waste of time by the Gardaí on these issues and I’d like them to refocus their efforts on the real criminals out there”.
When Mr Condon returned with the second batch of plants, onlookers captured the moment on their phones. Many of whom agreed that it was a waste of resources. Whilst Gardaí removed the plants and launched an investigation, they have not made any arrests.
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Campaigning for safe access and regulation of cannabis in Ireland
Cannabis rights activists, like Mr Condon, work towards legalising and regulating cannabis products so that they are safe and accessible for both medical and recreational use.
In Ireland, only medical professionals can prescribe cannabis-based mediations in rare cases. Only patients under their care, with certain medical conditions who have not responded to standard treatments, are offered prescriptions.
Other than in rare medical cases, there is a blanket ban on cannabis growth, distribution, and consumption in Ireland. This means that plants are not regulated when it comes to growing conditions and there are no standards for distribution.
Because of this, cannabis products available on the street have become far more potent in recent years.
The lack of regulation surrounding production has negative ramifications for consumers, whether they wish to use cannabis for medical reasons or recreationally. Mr Condon states that consumers are simply “at the mercy of drug dealers who are not required to maintain a minimum standard of quality”.
The potency and lack of regulation of cannabis products is also a cause for concern for Irish youth workers. Over 100 youth workers and former youth workers penned an open letter to voice their concern. They didn’t just call for the legalisation of cannabis though. They also expressed the need for the legal regulation of the plant.
Not all cannabis-based medications are available in Ireland
When Martin Condon placed the plants on the bridge in Cork, he carefully labelled them “Bring Alicia Home” and “Call Vera”. He named both plants after prominent Irish medical cannabis rights campaigners, Alicia Maher and Vera Twomey.
Alicia Maher struggled to find standard medications that helped her after undergoing multiple surgeries. This prompted her relocation to Spain, where she could access safe and affordable cannabis-based medications.
Luckily, Ms Maher is now living a completely different life without pain and endless surgeries. She can now concentrate on her studies while she completes her PhD in law.
Vera Twomey is a prominent campaigner in the fight for access to medical cannabis. Her daughter, Ava, suffers from a rare and severe form of epilepsy. Unfortunately, Ava’s condition has not responded well to traditional medications.
Therefore, doctors provided Ava with a prescription for a cannabis-based medication, known as Bedrocan. However, this particular medicine is not available in Ireland, and so Ava’s family have to source it from the Netherlands.
Cannabis rights activists join Major Smoke Up 2021
Mr Condon joined many others to show their dedication to the cause. On the 10th of July 1,100 people attended a march, which took place in Dublin. The Major Smoke Up 2021 event is an annual march, organised by The Major Group for Cannabis Reform (MGCR).
Last year approximately 600 people attended. This shows how popular the movement has become.
Participants marched past the Criminal Courts of Justice, the office of Director for Public Prosecutions and the Garda Headquarters, armed with bongs, joints, and placards stating their cause.
With legalisation happening all over the world, will Ireland follow suit?
With the decriminalisation of all drugs in Portugal and the legalisation of cannabis in Canada and many American states, many wonder if Ireland will be next.
People Before Profit TD, Gino Kelly, is currently working on drafts of The Cannabis Regulation and Control Bill which he hopes will be introduced later on in the year.
Many cannabis rights campaigners hope that legalising cannabis and regulating the growth and sale of it will help to bring safe and affordable access to consumers, regardless of whether they want to use it for recreational or medical purposes.