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New bill described as ‘stepping stone’ towards decriminalisation of cannabis set to be introduced in Ireland


People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny is set to introduce a new bill in the Irish Dáil (parliament) this week, which could mean the end of cannabis prohibition in Ireland. The bill would be an amendment to the current legislation and would allow people to possess a small amount for personal use up to seven grams. 

Once the bill has been introduced, it must be voted on by other government parties to pass. The bill has been described as a ‘stepping stone’ which may allow further legislation to be introduced covering cultivation. 

Gino Kenny has been a strong supporter of cannabis reform in Ireland. He highlights that his party, People Before Profit, see this as a move towards a regulatory system and a harm reduction approach which would take back control from the black market. 

“The bill is an amendment to the existing legislation which is referred to as the Misuse of Drugs Act. The current legislation stipulates that cannabis is illegal and you can’t possess it. So the new bill will seek to change that and include a person’s personal use of up to seven grammes of cannabis without any penalty,” Gino said.

“It’s decriminalisation and we believe it’s a stepping stone if it was to be legislated further towards a regulatory system. Rather than what we have now which is unregulated and controlled by the black market.”

For the amendment to pass, it will need the support of other government parties. While some TDs may agree, on a personal level, with the amendment, they may have to vote in line with their political party’s view. This makes it difficult to know what support is like for the bill. “We will get a better understanding of where political parties are when the bill is published this week. It’s been in the media so people are aware that it will be discussed,” he explained. 

“Some of the parties have a position on it but others don’t so it’s going to be very interesting to see what the government and opposition do. At the moment, it’s difficult to gauge what support it will get.”

There is no better time for Ireland to discuss cannabis decriminalisation. Several other European countries such as Malta and Luxembourg have already passed legislation around cannabis. 

Ireland may also hold a Citizen’s Assembly next year which will look at drugs and decriminalisation in the wider sense. This should be around the same time as the bill comes up for discussion in the Dáil. 

However, if the bill does pass, it can still be stalled further down the line. If it does pass through all stages then it could take a few years before changes are made. However, Gino is determined to start the decriminalisation debate.

“It will probably be debated early in the year. If it does progress that doesn’t mean it is going to be legislated for as things can pass to the next stage but then can be completely stalled. The main thing for us is that discussion begins and it can progress, he said.


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