Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Cannabis Regulation: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]
It must be said that we enjoy our drugs in Ireland, be it the national drug - alcohol - or the other drugs mentioned in this debate. Cannabis is probably second on the chart in terms of popularity during this recession. However, back in the days of the Celtic tiger, when the yuppies had lots of money, cocaine replaced other drugs and for a period became the second most popular drug consumed here.
I agree with some of the points that have been made during this debate but we must be careful, as legislators, when dealing with this issue because we must look at it in its totality. I will not be supporting the motion. Recently I attended the launch of a report by the Rape Crisis Centre and also the launch of a report on domestic violence. The point was made at those launches about the effect on children and families of rape and domestic violence. We must change the attitude that suggests that the use of cannabis or cocaine is a very privileged, individual choice and a right worth dying for. I challenge anyone to read either of the aforementioned reports and not have his or her stomach turn over at the effects of alcohol and weed. It is not just a simple matter of saying we can legislate for another drug and then it is up to the individual to make his or her choice. That is a load of rubbish. There are thousands of kids in care tonight because of the national drug and because of cannabis.
In fairness to Members of the current Dáil, attitudes are changing. I have not been here very long but I have heard comments which I find encouraging. I never thought I would hear it here, but I have heard the phrase "alcohol and other drugs" used in this House. Let us grow up about this and say it out straight. I do not know about other Members but I am a user. I enjoy my porter but I do not make a profession of drinking it. As legislators, we must be brave about this issue. We should focus on doing something about the national drug before we bring another monster on board. It is that simple.
While the Minister of State, Deputy White did his best, to our shame, we have done very little to deal with the alcohol problem. A report was published recently on the issue of below-cost selling of alcohol but I will not get into that right now. The other issue of concern is the sponsorship of sporting events and festivals by the alcohol industry. Do we not get it? Why do alcohol companies sponsor sporting events and festivals? They do not do it primarily to promote drink. The principal reason is to give themselves an edge in terms of their image and their brand. They promotes the old paddy-whackery notions like 'what did a few drinks ever do?' and 'he has only had a few pints' and so forth. However, if one reads the recent report on domestic violence, one will see what a few points do to some guys. Some people can control their alcohol consumption. There are men and women who have never been drunk in their lives and who have no ambition to be but we must be honest about this. There are many people who cannot handle alcohol and if Members have any doubts about that, they should look at the reports on rape. As an Irish man, it makes me feel ashamed.
Without going into the details, child abuse in this country is primarily, if not exclusively, related to the national drug, but we cannot deal with it. It is disappointing and, as the Minister of State, Deputy White knows, I disapprove of any alcohol company sponsoring any sporting body. When a child goes to the Aviva or Croke Park stadium, the last thing we want him or her to see is advertising of the national drug.