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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 24 April, 2019
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‘Who is Nidge from Love/Hate accountable to?’ – Ming kicks off Dáil cannabis debate

Introducing his motion to the Dáil this evening, Flanagan said the idea of legalising cannabis is “not radical anymore”.

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INDEPENDENT TD LUKE ‘Ming’ Flanagan this evening put forward a private members’ motion in the Dáil to introduce legislation to regulate the growing, selling and possession of cannabis in Ireland.

Wearing his infamous hemp suit, Flanagan introduced the motion to the Dáil, saying that the idea of legalisation cannabis “is not radical anymore”.

He said that, looking at the response from the public to media reports on cannabis legalisation, “the people of Ireland are actually ready for this legislation”.

We have a situation here where an issue is described as radical by many people in Dáil Éireann but the vast majority of people are in favour of it.

The Roscommon TD discussed the changes in law internationally, making particular reference to legalisation in some US states.

He commented that he was expecting the Taoiseach to “follow suit any time now because he always thinks they’re right”.

The TD’s Cannabis Regulation Bill, which was launched last week, would seek to regulate the drug in all areas and would still contain criminal sanctions for illegal production and possession by minors. He argued that regulating the drug would mean taking back the market from the criminals now benefitting from it.

“Who is John Gilligan accountable to? Who is Nidge out of Love/Hate accountable to?” he asked.

Flanagan also raised the issue of the 100,000 people who have criminal records because of cannabis, which causes problems for them when it comes to employment.

A number of TDs commended Flanagan for stirring up the debate which many described as “necessary”.

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Dublin TD Maureen O’Sullivan said this was “part of a much wider debate” which she hoped would start tonight.

She said that decriminalising the drug would be a move towards taking the control of the cannabis market away from criminals and called on the government to “stop using prison to tackle drug issues”.

The TD made reference to the increased potency of the cannabis being used by under 18s who are mostly “young males, early school-leavers with a poor employment record”, which is having major negative impacts on mental health.

Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins said the damage that legislating cannabis “would inflict upon innumerable people across the county is a breach of that duty”.

“Our time here is better spent focusing on the draconian budget introduced only weeks ago that will severely impact upon the young and old in Irish society,” he said. “This attempt to liberalise drug use is a deeply flawed view of what the common good is.”

“Deputy Flanagan’s misguided enthusiasm for this project down through the years belies the all too real dangers of cannabis,” the Fianna Fáil TD commented.

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Minister for State Alex White spoke of the “devastating effects” of drugs on families and communities and said that while he had no objection to a debate on the topic, the government would not be supporting Flanagan’s motion.

He said there was “a body of evidence” that says cannabis use is detrimental to health, both physically and mentally and making this drug available “could lead to increased experimentation with other drugs”.

However he said the government is currently finalising an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs regulations to allow for the use of the cannabis-based medicine Sativex by Multiple Sclerosis sufferers.

The debate continues in the Dáil tomorrow with TDs due to vote on Flanagan’s motion.

Related: Cannabis legalisation: Where do the parties stand?>

Read: Fine Gael TD open to Portuguese model of cannabis decriminalisation>

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