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Drug Addiction

Harris says there are no plans to legalise cannabis in Ireland

The health minister plans to have the medicinal cannabis access scheme up and running in the summer.

HEALTH MINISTER SIMON Harris has said there are no plans to legalise cannabis in Ireland. 

Speaking in the Oireachtas Health Committee today, Harris said he wanted to clear, stating: 

“There are no plans to legalise cannabis or any other illicit drugs in this country.”

However, he added that he plans to have the medicinal cannabis access scheme up and running in the summer, with the statutory instruments to put the scheme on a legal footing due to be signed “in the coming weeks”.

A group of 20 doctors said this week that a campaign of misinformation has led to a sharp increase in the number of cannabis users in Ireland, and warned against liberating the drug for recreational use. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar last year confirmed a working group was considering decriminalising the drug and were reviewing jurisdictions such as Canada where cannabis use had already been legalised.

It is understood report from a working group on the possession of drugs for personal use is to be brought to Cabinet within the next few weeks.

Senior doctors from the Cannabis Risk Alliance, however, said the dangers, including “increased risk of development of severe mental disorders, particularly psychosis,” were being ignored. 

The group said the government was “sleepwalking” its way into supporting its use.

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said the letter the doctors penned in The Irish Times this week conflated two issues – that of recreational use and medicinal use of cannabis.  

Harris said the medicinal cannabis access scheme is a “separate and distinct matter” to the government’s plan to “tackle the underlying issues” surrounding drug addiction.

“You have to take a health-led approach,” said Harris, adding:

“When we come across someone in this country with an addiction, should we be giving them a helping hand or a handcuff?” 

He said it was “frankly wrong” and stigmatises addicts.

“Deciding that the only thing that we’re going to do for a drug addict is put them in touch with the criminal justice system will not break addiction,” he added.

He added that behind every addict is someone’s son, father, mother or sister, stating “we have to face up to drug addiction.”

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