Dáil debates

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Cannabis Regulation: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]


7:25 pm

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I must say that I am totally opposed to the proposal. The availability of a particular drug and the fact that it is freely available is not the issue. The question is whether it is good for the person who takes it and whether access should be uncontrolled. Obviously, cannabis has properties which are beneficial to people in pain and so forth, which is recognised. The way to deal with that is by way of prescription and not the way advocated by this motion. It is important to remember that cannabis is habit forming.

I became involved a number of years ago in an examination of the Amsterdam project and the Zurich experiment. I, along with the late Tony Gregory and a number of other Deputies, visited those cities to find out how the liberalisation of certain drugs had worked and quite simply, it did not work. It led to increased abuse. It was uncontrolled abuse and it is intrinsically bad to suggest that such a situation would be better than the one that pertains here at present. Reference was made to Portugal but drug abuse in that country has dropped because the Portuguese police have taken out the drug barons and disrupted the supply chain. That was proven beyond any shadow of doubt.

The gateway aspect of this drug is very dangerous. I do not know whether we realise what we are talking about in this context. If Members are suggesting that young people in the community will be better served by the greater availability of a drug which is a gateway drug, they are wrong and are giving a very bad example. We should not go down that particular road. There is no scientific evidence to support that suggestion. There are only opinions to support it, expressed strongly by some but others have equally strongly-held opinions which differ.

Finally, when prohibition ended in the United States, the use of alcohol increased by 4,000%.


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