Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Cannabis Regulation: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]
Some criticism has been levelled at the Technical Group for facilitating Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan in bringing forward this motion. It is not a Bill but a Private Members' motion. There is democracy within the Technical Group which allows every individual to speak his or her mind on any issue in the Dáil. This is not the case in some parties. I refer to the abortion legislation when, because of their conscientious views, some people were forced to leave their parties. I want to make it clear that despite the fact some in the group may not support the motion, Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan has every right to bring it forward.
I welcome this debate which is valuable and worthwhile on the basis that the illegal drugs trade is a massive global industry, with a highly sophisticated international supply chain. According to the United Nations, the illegal drugs trade makes up a staggering 8% of world trade. It is worth more than the combined global market of textiles, clothing, iron and steel. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that the value of the global illicit drug market runs into hundreds of billions. Almost 300 million people worldwide use drugs, including cannabis, marijuana, hashish and THC. This is something we cannot avoid.
I was interested in the contribution made by Deputy Paul Connaughton which was very constructive. The most serious criminal activities in the past decade in Ireland have been terrorism and drugs. While a small tiny minority are now involved in terrorism, drug dealing and drug taking have extended beyond every city in Ireland into every small town and village. This cannot be denied. When this issue came up for debate, I received almost 800 messages on my Facebook page and web page which were running 60% to 40% opposing legalisation. A healthy 40% were in favour of decriminalising and legalisation.