Looking back at just the last few months, it is clear that a major change is taking place in Ireland concerning the way the public feels about cannabis. This is especially noticeable when observing how cannabis demonstrations in Ireland have grown in popularity and the major protest for cannabis reform.
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Demonstrations calling for cannabis reform in Ireland
There is still a lot to be done regarding the laws, accessibility, and stigma surrounding cannabis. However, the public is slowly accepting that cannabis is not an evil drug like the media sometimes portrays it. Thanks to all the new scientific research on cannabis, more people now realise it may have potential benefits.
Major Smoke Up demonstration
The Major Smoke Up demonstration is a march the cannabis activist group Major Group for Cannabis Reform (MGCR) have each year. The goal of the demonstration is to lobby for the reformation of Irish cannabis laws, increase access to cannabis, and reduce the stigma surrounding it.
The Major Smoke Up demonstration this year proves that things are changing, with the number of protesters almost doubling from the estimated 600 attendees in 2020 to over 1100 people this year.
Vera Twomey is another cannabis activist who started campaigning when she realised how much cannabis was helping her daughter, who suffers from severe epilepsy and seizures. She tirelessly fought for her daughter, writing to the government, and trekking from Cork to Dublin to bring attention to her cause.
Fortunately, her pleas were heard, and Bedrocan, the medical cannabis that changed her daughter's life, would now be funded upfront. She would no longer have to shell out thousands of Euros upfront herself.
Cannabis activist Martin Condon made headlines recently when he potted six cannabis plants near a Garda station in Cork City. Gardaí removed the illegal plants, only for Martin to place more in the same spot. “The growing of the cannabis plant should not be a criminal matter and patients should have fair and effective access to cannabis as a medicine,” Martin said.
“That's why I'm out, staging a little civil disobedience for these patients.”
Why there is a need for cannabis protests in Ireland
Ireland has stringent laws surrounding cannabis. Recreational use of cannabis is illegal. While medical cannabis is legal, this is only on a case-by-case basis. Very few people are lucky enough to get permission. And even then, there are difficulties accessing it.
Ireland imports medical cannabis since it is illegal to produce it in the country, making it extremely expensive. It takes a long time for the health service to refund this amount. Patients even resort to travelling abroad just to be able to access medical cannabis.
The Irish government's reaction to calls for the reform of cannabis laws
The Irish government have not been ignoring the pleas and demonstrations, and have taken action to enforce some change. Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was happy to announce that the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) is up and running. The MCAP is a pilot programme aiming to increase the availability of medical cannabis to eligible patients in Ireland.
However, while this is indeed a step forward, many activists are not too happy. Only treatment-resistant conditions, such as symptoms of multiple sclerosis, cancer, and severe epilepsy, are on the list of eligibility. This excludes many other people who could benefit from medical cannabis.
Over the last few years, with an increasing number of people calling for the reform of Ireland's cannabis laws, the government and the public have started paying attention to the need for change. Hopefully, with more demonstrations and the rollout of the MCAP programme, cannabis laws will soon be reformed in Ireland.