Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Cannabis Regulation: Motion [Private Members]
I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:“acknowledges that the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland is regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 and 1984;I propose to share time with Deputies Michael McNamara, Joe O'Reilly and Joe Carey.
recognises the body of clinical evidence which demonstrates that cannabis misuse is detrimental to health;
notes the significant physical and mental health risks associated with long-term or heavy use of cannabis and usage in young people;
recognises that legalisation of cannabis, which is known to be a "gateway drug", would potentially lead to increased levels of experimentation with drugs by young people;
notes that cannabis is subject to international controls in the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances and Ireland is a party to these international conventions;
recognises that leniency in cannabis control could endanger the overall international effort against drugs; and
supports the Government in its determination to maintain strict legal controls on cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland.”
Drug misuse continues to be one of the most significant challenges facing the country. It is highly destructive and has devastating effects on individuals, relationships, families, communities and society in general. Cannabis is the most widely consumed illicit drug in Europe and Ireland. There is a substantial body of clinical evidence documenting the health and social risks associated with its use. The Government is strongly of the view that we should maintain the current system of strict controls and regulation of cannabis in Ireland. For that reason, we will not support Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's motion. I agree with Deputies opposite who spoke about the necessity and importance of debating these questions. I have no objection whatsoever to people in the media and, most of all, in the Oireachtas debating these issues, largely for the reasons outlined by Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan.
The rationale for the Government's position is set out in the national drugs strategy which aims to tackle problem drug use across the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. One of the principal objectives of the strategy is to reduce significantly access to all drugs, particularly those drugs that cause most harm to young people and especially in those areas where misuse is most prevalent. The drugs prevalence survey 2010-11 carried out by the national advisory committee on drugs found that cannabis was the most commonly used illicit drug in Ireland. The survey found that trends in recent and current use had remained stable in comparison to a similar survey carried out in 2006-07. However, it reported that lifetime prevalence of cannabis had risen to 25% by 2010-11, up 3.4% since 2006-07.
Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's motion calls for legislation to regulate the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland. He has not tabled a Bill, at least not at this stage, but rather has asked the House to call on the Government to introduce legislation. It is not true for Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett to say the motion has any bearing on a Bill because there is no Bill before the House.