The NUI Galway Students’ Union will hold a referendum this week to adopt a stance on the issue of the legalisation of cannabis.
The motion was requested by 500 members of the Students’ Union, forcing the referendum to be held and will take place on March 5.
According to the Students’ Union Constitution, “To requisition a referendum, the signatures of 500 members must be appended to the proposed wording of the referendum and submitted to the General Manager.” This same rule applies across all colleges.
The wording of the referendum was announced this week and is as follows:
“Do you agree with the following proposition: ‘That NUI Galway Student’s Union actively supports the legalisation and regulation of the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis for adults age 18 and over.”’
The ballot paper will require the student to respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the question, with the referendum will taking place on Thursday, 4th of March. Students will be permitted to vote at polling stations on campus, and also online.
A report in 2013 by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction found that similar to that of The Netherlands, where the drug is legal, 25% of adults ages 15-64 had admitted to using cannabis during their lives.
The rates of which the drug was consumed was far greater amongst younger adults (age 15-34). When asked, 66% of the respondents were in favour of the use of cannabis in medical practice, however, 69% were against use of the drug for ‘recreational reasons’.
The referendum is the first of its kind for an Irish university. Mark Stanton, President of UCC Students’ Union, commented on NUIG’s referendum, saying he will be interested in seeing what response the referendum will provoke.
“We haven't had a chance to take any stance on it. We do have a Students for Responsible Drug Use Society but there's no word yet on this matter. If we do get 500 signatures then it will have to be voted on, that's how it works in all the colleges. We don't have an official stance but I expect we'll be seeing it soon”.
DIT Students’ Union President, Fiachrá Duffy, said that there are other issues higher up on the agenda for DITSU this year.
"It's not something that's come up at all at DITSU Student Council. We have probably two other referendums coming up this year already relating to our constitution, the TU (Technological Universities) merger and a potential levy. So I don't see there being time for [another] one this year.”
Ben Finnegan, President of Maynooth University SU, voiced his interest in the referendum:
‘‘I'm not sure what will happen, I'll definitely be keeping an eye on it. Although, I think here in Maynooth more students will be more concerned with the upcoming Marriage Referendum as there will be campaigning for that. But look, we have an obligation to the students, so if they have 500 signatures, then we must respond. As of now, we are neutral.’’
NUI Galway Students’ Union said they are unable to comment on the referendum until after a result has been reached.