Just after the High Court decision to dismiss a challenge to the country’s cannabis ban, reformers have vowed to introduce legislation into Parliament this month to decriminalize personal use
The Irish People before Profit party will introduce a bill in the coming weeks to decriminalize the personal use of cannabis. The move, which will be the first time in a decade that a legislative attempt to reform the country’s drug laws dating from 1977, comes just a week after the highest court in the country refused to accept a case challenging the current ban on cannabis consumption.
The current language of the bill proposes decriminalizing the personal possession of the up to seven grams of flower or 2.5 grams of resin. Advocates are calling the move a “stepping stone” to a fully regulated market domestically.
No matter what else it is, the political response is also certainly a signal of a highly organized and ready to respond community.
Will the Bill Pass?
No matter the good news on the possibilities front, it is unlikely that the bill will pass. The PBP party is in opposition to the sitting government, which is, as most mainstream, conservative political parties still are, pretty much globally. See the American Democrats as a perfect example of the same.
Regardless, just the introduction of the bill will prompt a national conversation about cannabis reform at a time when this is certainly a hot topic just about everywhere. This will include, of course, Germany’s efforts to implement a domestic law that will also be able to fit in both European and other international drug and regulatory frameworks.
It will also include, almost certainly a conversation about at least patient if not recreational home grow.
For all these reasons, this is a good development, in that it shows how determined advocates are to overcome any legal challenges or objections, one way or another.
How Does Ireland Sit Within European Cannabis Reform?
Ireland is a bit behind the leading countries in Europe. Namely, it is legal to obtain medical cannabis on prescription, but it is very hard to access the same (not to mention expensive). While patients would certainly benefit from any decrim legislation, however, there is as of yet no language in the proposed bill that might create some regulatory infrastructure to protect medical consumers (at least).
However, Ireland is hardly an outlier in accepting the medical efficacy of cannabis, while still effectively barring the majority of people who might benefit from easy access. The list of country’s just within the EU also of course still includes Germany, where patients are finding it harder to manoeuvre through the health insurance thicket to get reimbursement but beyond this, France, Spain, and Italy.
What Kind of Reform Will Really Kill the Black Market?
There is a global discussion underway right now about the fundamental premise of reform beyond medical efficacy of the plant. Namely, how advancing cannabis reform laws will really work to end not only Prohibition, but an entire unregulated, black-market cultivation and distribution network.
Decriminalization at least removes patients and users from the front lines of criminal prosecution. However, it will do little to set up a regulated infrastructure and market, and further that actually work economically.
One of the largest issues the industry overall faces is profitability along with pricing products for at minimum, patient access. Both issues are complicated by regulatory complexity. Indeed, right now, the only entities making money reliably on cannabis reform are governments who issue expensive permits and collect taxes. Until that happens, the illegal market will thrive.
Hopefully, given the forward progress this issue has made will begin to convince even mainstream Irish lawmakers that the time to address cannabis reform, even if in small incremental steps, is now.