More MS news articles for Oct 2001

No plans to decriminalise cannabis

Thursday, October 25, 2001
By Eithne Donnellan

There are no plans to decriminalise possession of cannabis in the Republic despite a policy change in Britain this week which will make possession of the drug no longer an arrestable offence.

The British move was welcomed yesterday by individuals campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis here. One campaigner expressed optimism that the Republic would follow in Britain's footsteps.

The Department of Justice said the legalisation of cannabis was not under consideration, and the Minister, Mr O'Donoghue, had said he had no plans to legalise the drug.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Act the manufacture, possession, supply and prescription of the drug is prohibited, except under licence from the Minister for Health for medical or scientific use. The Department of Health confirmed no application for any such licence had been made to the Minister, Mr Martin.

Mr Martin told the Dáil in May he was aware claims were being made about possible benefits of cannabis for patients suffering from conditions such as multiple sclerosis. However, he said these claims were not supported by medical research.

Nevertheless, he said if an application was made for a licence, he would give it "serious consideration".

Roscommon man Mr Luke Flanagan, who has been campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis for several years, said the development in Britain was to be welcomed. "It's a good day when people won't get arrested or prosecuted for smoking cannabis," he said. "I would be a bit disappointed that there are no plans to change the law here but it's a bit like everything else, once Britain does it we will do it here."

Mr Tony Geoghegan of Merchants Quay Ireland, which offers services to drug users, also welcomed the change. He did not wish to see cannabis legalised but felt people found in possession of it should not be dealt with under the criminal justice system.

© 2001