The Great Debate: Marijuana should be legal in Ireland


Weed is everywhere. Just go to any college house party or walk down some back street in the city and you’ll probably smell it.

And yet cannabis is illegal in Ireland. The issue of whether or not it should be legalised is becoming more and more discussed in recent times.

I believe it should remain illegal. Although there may be some health benefits, it is still a drug that can be harmful if it is overused.

Weed is well known for being ‘the starter drug’. It tends to be the first one people try, because it’s so widely available, it’s cheaper than other drugs and the effects are relatively milder.

But of course, drugs lead on to more drugs. Cannabis is an addictive drug and if a person continues to use and enjoy it, they are more inclined to try other, more dangerous drugs.

Most people try smoking weed in an attempt to experience the famous ‘high’ or to fit in with their peers. Yes, college is a time for experimentation; a time to try new things but why not just join a club or society instead?
There is a reason weed is currently illegal.

Using cannabis obviously has a negative impact on your health. The desired, short-term high can soon be replaced by anxiety, paranoia, loss of co-ordination, memory loss and an inability to concentrate.

Cannabis can also cause more serious health conditions including respiratory diseases such as lung cancer and chronic bronchitis. It can also cause psychological problems which may lead to depression, which in turn may lead to suicide.

Is this really something we want to encourage? Suicide is a growing issue in our society, especially amongst young people.

Vulnerable and impressionable young people do not need to add drugs to the list of worries and stresses they are already experiencing. Of course, there are plenty of young people using drugs, but legalising cannabis would send out the wrong message; that drugs are actually okay to use.

Chris Luke, a consultant in emergency medicine at Cork University Hospital says that young teenage males that smoke cannabis a lot can permanently lose up to 10 IQ points. He also says that 10 per cent of users experience psychiatric illness.

In my opinion, the only acceptable reason for smoking pot is to help reduce nausea for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Medicinal marijuana isn’t as harmful, because a doctor will prescribe the correct dosage and there is little chance of overdosing.

It is claimed that it helps with relaxation and stress reduction but there are other ways to do this. Exercise, chilling out with friends, getting more sleep and eating good, nutritious foods seem like much better options.

Aoibheann Diver


There’s always been a stigma surrounding somebody who smokes marijuana. I find it hard to engage in a debate with somebody about the positive uses of marijuana without being labelled as a “pothead”, “stoner” or a piece of “ganja garbage”. But I am in favour of legalising marijuana.

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people worldwide every year. Alcohol is responsible for half of patients admitted to A&E departments across the country each weekend. Can you guess how many recorded deaths worldwide are a result from the use of cannabis? Zero. Let that sink in.

Cannabis culture is on the rise across Ireland. Recently, 68% of students in NUIG voted in favour of their Students’ Union lobbying for the regulation and sale of the plant. A study carried out by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction reports 25.3 per cent of Irish people have smoked cannabis at some stage in their life. So that’s about one in four people who have smoke cannabis.

Medical marijuana is also growing in popularity, and legality in the United States. Nine year-old Charlotte Figi has proven to be the catalyst for this surge. When Charlotte was three months old, she had her first epileptic seizure. She suffered from horrendous seizures multiple times a day, sometimes they would last hours.

At their wits end, Charlotte’s parents turned to medical marijuana,and a specific compound of the plant, cannabidiol, or CBD as it’s more commonly known. Scientists believe the CBD quiets the excessive electrical and chemical activity in the brain that causes seizures. At this stage Charlotte, now 5 years old, was having around 400 seizures a week and she can neither walk nor talk.

Her parents, along with health care professionals, decided to administer her with two dosages of cannabis oil in her food every day. By the time she was 6 , Charlotte, began to thrive. Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle too. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day.

By legalising and regulating the sale and cultivation of cannabis, the exchequer should also expect to receive a huge boost in revenue. In America, Colorado and Washington both legalised cannabis at the start of 2014. The cannabis industries in both states are very organized and regulated, which is crucial to their success.

The results economically of this? In 2014 alone, Colorado’s legal marijuana industry generated over $76 million in state tax revenue, over $700 million in total economic activity, and a surge in tourism.

Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Ruaidhrí Quinn and Leo Varadkar, to name a few, have all admitted to smoking cannabis. It can add countless benefits to the economy and the healthcare industry in Ireland. So, why is it still illegal?

Finnian Curran

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