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Dáil rejects Luke 'Ming' Flanagan's cannabis regulation motion

TDs have been debating the issue of cannabis legalisation for the last two days.

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THE DÁIL HAS defeated independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan’s motion for the legalisation and regulation of cannabis in Ireland by eight votes to 111.

TDs had been debating the issue yesterday evening and today with many of them welcoming the broader debate on the ‘war on drugs’ in Ireland.

Speaking about his motion this evening, Flanagan cited a number of health reports that say the drug is not as harmful as is widely claimed and pointed to the potential tax revenue that legalisation would result bring in.

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He said that if the 150,000 people that are currently estimated to be using cannabis spent €100 per month and paid 13 per cent tax, there would be a yield of €60 million a year for the Exchequer.

While most TDs were opposed to full legalisation of cannabis, many welcomed the wider debate on the country’s drug problems.

Fine Gael’s Paul Connaughton said that it was “very easy to knock” the idea of legalising cannabis but pointed out that the drug is “available the length and breadth of this country, in every town, in every village”.

He also accused some TDs of being “hypocrites” expressing opposition to this motion but having “no problem with people having a couple of pints before driving home”.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Flanagan said he was surprised by the reaction from his Dáil colleagues and that he “floated out of the debate yesterday without the use of any psychoactive substances”.

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This evening, Health Minister James Reilly said the government will not be changing its policy and spoke about the “serious concerns about the health impacts” of cannabis use.

Most people who use cannabis smoke it and I am vehemently opposed to smoking.

Several TDs who are opposed to legalising the drug, including the minister, referred to it as a ‘gateway’ drug to more harmful substances.

Reilly said that he wants to see “more enforcement” and that the government wants to “present people with the opportunity to achieve a life without addiction.”

He also echoed the sentiments of Minister for State Alex White who spoke yesterday of the government’s plans to allow for the use of a cannabis-based medicine for people with Multiple Sclerosis.

However he commented that while most people agree with the drug being legalised for medical purposes, he said there is “no evidence” of any significant public support for a change in policy.

The seven TDs who voted with Flanagan on the motion were Richard Boyd Barrett, Joe Higgins, Thomas Pringle, Catherine Murphy, Joan Collins, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly.

Related: ‘Who is Nidge from Love/Hate accountable to?’ – Ming kicks off Dáil cannabis debate>

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

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

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