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The Cannabis Lobby

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Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
Please excuse us if cannabis seems to be taking an inordinately high place in this website's coverage over the past few days. Actually, dont. Vouching for the legalization of cannabis is just as much a part of any student's existence as opposition to fees, and this week — thanks to Legalise Cannabis Ireland — we've more reason than usual to take our stand on this divisive issue before me make our decision to march or not this Saturday.

I won't go in to the reasons in favour of the legalization of cannabis. My colleague Mark O'Neill has already given what I can only unbiasedly call a superb tour-de-force outlining why we should be in favour of making the narcotic legal. In fact I won't even proffer my own opinion. What I'll do, though, is take a look at the often unseen political undercurrent that is the cannabis advocacy lobby.

Cannabis advocacy is by now a global political phenomenon. Parties have sprung up — and continue to do so — across the world with a strong belief that cannabis should be legalized as just about the only point on their manifesto. While some parts of the world boast groups of this nature that go back decades, our cannabis lobby seems to be in its infancy. From what that great oracle of wisdom Google has told me, we seem to have two main groups.

Cannabis Policy Reform Ireland (CPRI).

This group liaises closely with the Colarado-based Safer Alternative for Alternative Recreation (SAFER). That group managed to have the possession of under an ounced of cannabis legalized in Colorado. Note that this was reported in a story from Indymedia, but it seems to be somewhat unsubstantiated (what I'm saying is that I'm not sure whether or not that's actually true). In any event, this indigenous group, whose sole web-presence is a Wordpress blog, seems to have started up in 2006 with big goals, but made a relatively small impact. This isn't intended as a criticism, just my observation of what stage the group seems to be at — I may of course, be completely wrong. They have organized some marches in Dublin and continue to push for the advocacy of cannabis. They proposed something called the Cannabis-Alcohol Equalisation Initiative which was supposed to be modeled on a similar organization in Colorado, but there is stark little evidence that that ever actually took off. In any event, they (he? she?) can be contacted at ccprireland@hotmail.com.

The Big Dog: Legalise Cannabis Ireland (LCI).

Legalise Cannabis Ireland is based in Dublin but has a membership which stretches across Ireland. Of the two organisations, this is quite clearly the bigger, and seems to have already have large measures of success in organizing protest marches similar to the one that they're organizing this coming Saturday in Cork and Dublin. It's not a political party, as many cannabis groups are, but is rather a sort of advocacy group that pushes for the legalisation of cannabis. Their policies include that they believe that making cannabis illegal is a breach of human rights, that ingesting cannabis or not should be a matter of choice not law, and that ultimately illegalising cannabis is against the public interest. Their informative website (Latest News), also offers a whole wealth of information about cannabis, explaining why exactly it isn't that bad (in their opinion), as well as providing useful information about their marches, past, present and future. Their rather catchy slogan is 'Educate! Liberate! Cultivate!'.

Whatever about advocacy, there's not much happening on this front.

The Burning Question (Excuse the pun).

Those are the two main pressure groups (I'm assuming there are other smaller ones but couldn't find them on Google); that's well and good but the main question is whether this pressure is having any effect or not? My gut reaction was 'no' but to try and find out I searched through the Oireachtas Debates online to try and find any kind of debate on the issue that might be suggestive of serious contemplation on the part of the incumbent Government to legalise cannabis.

Simply put, the evidence isn't promising. Running a date-controlled search on the Oireachtas website we can see that there has in truth been almost no consideration of the issue in either chamber of our national assembly.

Among several motley references was Eamonn Stag TD's suggestion to legalise the substance a little over a year ago. When he concludes his suggestion by making reference to the fact that the Greens weren't at the meetings (on carbon tax) Eamonn Gilmore jestingly replies that they must have been ' smoking something'. Apart from that there's very little else worth mentioning. It seems that we have a high rate of cannabis use — approximately 1 in 18 of us have tried it — which makes it our most popular illegal drug, but we're well behind some European countries in terms of our per capita consumption of 'weed'. There also seems to be a tendancy towards higher use in the East of the country, but folks, I digress.

Perhaps this Saturday's march can bring some (what seems to be) badly needed political attention to the issue, and by the time I'm re-writing this article, say in a few years' time, it'll be a rather different story that I'm relaying.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Cork Student News
Author: Daniel OCarroll
Contact: Cork Student News
Copyright: 2010 Cork Student News
Website: The Cannabis Lobby