Pubdate: Fri, 30 Jul 1999
Date: 07/30/1999
Source: Irish Independent (Ireland)
Author: Tara Fox

Sir, It is interesting, as always, to see when Irish news finally
catches up with the rest of the world on the cannabis debate.

Landmark court cases in Britain regarding the 'Demon weed' make for a
titillating read on the DART but still the majority of the population
remains ignorant about the facts surrounding the cannabis family and
its uses.

This is due primarily to fear instigated by over-zealous educators,
mis-representation by world governments (we should be used to that by
now) and apathy to the needs or wishes of others.

The cannabis question is of increasing concern to many who prefer to
indulge in its inebriant qualities over alcohol.

We need to understand why people enjoy using the drug rather than
condemn its use.

It is too easy for older generations to pass judgement and slap our
offspring into prison.

The time has come for society to mature beyond the infantile, towards
'just say know'. The so-called drug war has cost far more than it has
benefited the government of North America. Why does Ireland insist on
following their lead when we know it hasn't stopped the use of any
drugs in society.

Some facts to think about: Over 652,000 people were arrested in the US
in 1997 for marijuana possession. Terms of life imprisonment are given
for cultivation of marijuana in some US states. 400,000 tobacco
related deaths occur in the US every year. Thousands die from allergic
reactions to aspirin and penicillin each year also. No-one has ever
died from using marijuana.

We also continue to ignore the potential benefits to the environment
from the growth of the non-drug cousin of marijuana called hemp. This
plant is now grown in 28 countries, including Ireland, and could serve
to benefit a society who wish to preserve the lands and forests from
excessive tree-harvesting techniques. Hemp requires far less
pesticides and little or no fertiliser. There are subsidies offered by
the EU to grow hemp. Over $250 million was spent on hemp goods last
year in the US. This figure is estimated to rise to $1 billion by
2002. Isn't it time to educate ourselves a little more and lead rather
than follow?

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