Pubdate: Sun, 08 May 2011 Source: Irish Times, The (Ireland) Copyright: 2011 The Irish Times Contact: http://www.irishtimes.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/214 Author: Olivia Kelleher MARCHES TO LEGALISE CANNABIS HELD 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 illegal. Other speakers at the rallies included Vincent Lavery, chairman of the organisation Decriminalise Illegal Drugs, and mental health campaigner John McCarthy. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.