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Bill to be introduced that would legalise personal use of cannabis

It’s set to be introduced by People Before Profit, but would have to get Dáil approval to progress.

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A BILL THAT would legalise the personal use of cannabis is set to go before the Dáil in around two weeks.

The Bill was due to be introduced during the summer but was delayed, Gino Kenny of People Before Profit said.  

The Dublin Mid-West TD told The Journal it is a relatively short bill, and will amend the current legislation on possession of cannabis, which is the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The amendment doesn’t reference the cultivation of cannabis. It’s anticipated that if the bill is approved by the Dáil – which means it requires the approval of the government parties – then changes regarding cultivation of cannabis could be added at committee stage. 

“The Bill will end the criminalisation of cannabis for personal use,” said Kenny. “People Before Profit is for complete regulation but this is a stepping stone to that. This bill will make it legal for someone to possess up to 7g of cannabis.” He said this is on par with legislation in Malta and Luxembourg. 

Kenny said that the amendment will bring no financial burden on the State. “It is legally permissible to put this bill forward under European law we’ve been told [by legal advisors],” he said. “The only impediment is the government could try to block it going forward, but we hope to have a good discussion around the issue. I think it’s time to have a discussion around drug reform in Ireland, particularly around personal use.”

Kenny said that the Bill will test the government, in terms of it having a health-led approach to harm reduction.

While the Bill is focused on cannabis, PBP is supportive of decriminalising drugs in Ireland. 

Asked how he thinks the Bill will go, Kenny said: “Some parties don’t have a position on decriminalisation so it will be interesting to see how they go for it.”

He called on members of the Green Party to support the bill. 

“I think there’s an appetite in this country to have a different debate on drug use,” added Kenny. “There is a groundswell of opinion in Ireland that we need to do something different than what we are doing. I think there is a majority of people that believe we should be doing something different. Criminalising people doesn’t work – it’s counter-productive in my eyes.”

He said that the focus should be on harm reduction, and looking at ways to stop criminalising the use of drugs. 

“The system we have now, it simply doesn’t work and it enriches a tiny amount of people in society. It brings all sorts of people into the criminal justice system and I think the resources of the State would be better spent in relation to taking people away from the criminal justice system.”

In a previous interview with The Journal, Kenny said that once legalised, cannabis should be sold in regulated settings which would limit the sale of it for profit.

The Green Party previously called for the introduction of Dutch-style “coffee shops” to Ireland that would allow the consumption and sale of cannabis for over-18s under certain conditions.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan told TheJournal.ie four years ago that he thought such coffee shops would work here.

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