Pubdate: Sun, 08 May 2011
Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland)
Copyright: 2011 The Irish Times
Author: Olivia Kelleher


LEGALISE CANNABIS marches were held in Dublin and Cork on Saturday.
Large numbers of participants turned out from an alliance of groups
including Cork Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Legalise Cannabis
Ireland and the De Criminalise Illegal Drugs group.

Participants in the fifth annual Legalise Cannabis marches have
stressed that the money that is raised through the drugs trade would
be better spent by the Government than by criminal gangs who currently
control it.

Roscommon-Leitrim TD Luke Ming Flanagan told attendants at the rally
in Cork on Saturday afternoon that anyone who believed that legalising
cannabis would lead to more people using hard drugs should listen to
the facts from the Netherlands.

"According to a psychiatric think tank in the Netherlands, an
organisation that carries out a survey of 5,000 people every six
years, less than one in a thousand of Dutch teenagers experiment with
heroin in a country where you can openly buy cannabis. So if you are a
concerned parent out there and you want to ensure your child is 90 per
cent less likely to try heroin, legalise cannabis."

Gordon MacArdle, author of a paper called Compassionate Use of Medical
Cannabis , said this was "an opportunity for Ireland to make a brave
step forward and legalise cannabis and take that tax revenue that is
going into criminals' hand and put it into the tax coffers".

Mr MacArdle (36) previously lived in California where he operated a
medical marijuana dispensary in Napa Valley. He was prescribed
medicinal marijuana for post-traumatic stress disorder which he
continues to use for the ailment.

He is now based in Dublin and has campaigned on the disparity between
the drug laws in California and Ireland, where any use of cannabis is

Other speakers at the rallies included Vincent Lavery, chairman of the
organisation Decriminalise Illegal Drugs, and mental health campaigner
John McCarthy. 
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