In the 1950s, the Richard Nixon administration in America was responsible for initiating the “War on Drugs” which perpetuated throughout all of Western culture – waging a half a century long war on drugs and drug users. The Nixon administration later admitted the War on Drugs was a fabrication to target the anti-war movements which were springing up around the USA at that time, as well as certain minority groups. Remember the misleading primary and second school drug education? Thank the Nixon administration.
The War on Drugs has been challenged by decades of logic, compassion and justice and the USA – the nation responsible for the war on drugs are now at the forefront of drug policy reform. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia currently have legalized cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational use and they are pioneering research with psychedelic therapy.
Prohibition does not work. It never has. It never will. Humankind has experimented with altered states of consciousness since its conception and it would seem that the inherently curious will experiment with drugs regardless of their illegality. The failure of prohibition can be seen throughout history during the prohibition era which ignited the speakeasy movement where
saw a huge rise in alcohol related deaths due to the unregulated risky nature of production. Much like the deaths due to legal synthetic cannabis alternatives in Ireland in the past.
““For every prohibition you create, you also create an underground.” – Jello Biafra”
We are only really beginning to dismantle the stigma associated with cannabis but it still remains illegal. The majority of drug related arrests are for non-violent drug offences for personal possession. The legal status of cannabis makes criminals out of ordinary people. Not to mention, there are no set laws concerning the quantity defining “personal possession” – leaving the verdict to whoever is enforcing the law which is fundamentally flawed. A young person caught smoking a joint or a trivial amount of cannabis may face a criminal record which will prevent their future academic, travelling, economic and professional life, not to mention the untold levels of stress, anxiety and depression that come with these sanctions.
We need decriminalisation, legalisation and regulation of cannabis in Ireland – ensuring safe and legal cannabis is widely available both medically and recreationally. Cannabis can subsequently be taxed and the revenue generated, recirculated into society to help address and fix national socio-economic problems like homelessness, build better schools and roads. Like in Colorado, which as of July, has generated $506 since the legalisation of cannabis in 2014. Oh, and legalisation did not reduce Colorado to a state of maniacal pot-smokin’ zombies. Nothing changed for those with no interest.
The health benefits of cannabis are innumerable from the treatment of epilepsy, chronic pain, glaucoma, insomnia,nausea, musclespasms, vomiting during chemotherapy, as well as mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Cannabis doesn’t offer a lengthy list of concerning and debilitating side effects that their legal pharmaceutical alternatives offer. As other countries in Europe began to relax their cannabis laws, especially for medical use, Ireland still drags its heals and we are have seen medical refugees – who have abandoned their lives here so that they may get the medicine they need.
We have people in positions of power and influence making laws about substances they know nothing about, dictating and controlling what a person can and cannot legally ingest. In order to maintain and conform to the status quo and ensure the pharmaceutical industry remains unchallenged and uncompromised. This archaic system is a violation of people’s cognitive liberty and prevents people getting access to the medicine they need. The subsequent response to these policies is to find alternate illicit means of obtaining a substance or prevents that person from getting access altogether.
You don’t need to look far for anecdotal evidence strengthening the cannabis legalisation argument. We need to continue to fight the opposing side with knowledge, science and compassion. We don’t need to look far for anecdotal evidence about how the legalisation of cannabis simply makes sense. Decriminalise, legalise, regulate. Free the weed.