Curious about what it looks like to be a stoner in Ireland? No, probably not. After all, why would you be?. We live here in the United States and for us, smoking in the US is often our primary concern. Makes sense, most people are not going to head out to a different country to smoke and most people are smart enough to know that you never, ever, try to smuggle cannabis through customs. Those who have tried, well you can always call them on the phone in their jail cell if you would like the opportunity to talk to them about that experience.
No, most of us now focus on our home grown cannabis and forget the days where marijuana had to come in through the southern border and the drug wars this fueled for years. So why look outside the US? Well, we look outside because right now it is Saint Patrick’s Day and hey, if we are going to celebrate this holiday, we might want to know a little more about the state of cannabis in this foreign country.
As it currently stands, cannabis is not necessarily the most celebrated substance on the Emerald Isle, but it is getting better. Recently, Ireland announced it would decriminalize marijuana, cocaine, and heroin possession. Now remember, this is just decriminalising possession. You cannot grow cannabis legally, you cannot sell cannabis legally, and right now there are no real signs that you can legally consume the substance for either personal or medicinal benefit. No, the country still lags behind in allowing full legalization to be a thing.
Still, it is a great step, and one that shows the world is finally moving past what many consider a petty drug war launched by the United States and forced upon other allies as part of the crusade to fix the “moral erosion” caused by drugs. In the past, we have certainly talked about the damaging effects of the drug war and this story just focused on the United States alone, not even considering the global reach existing with our peer countries and partners. Good for Ireland for taking a step away from making pot an “evil substance,” instead of trying to assist in figuring out how it has been and still is working for our society.
The shift in Ireland’s policy came at the hands of the Minister of Drugs, Aodhan O Riordain, who began the announcement by talking about plans to open injection centers for drug users in Dublin. Riordain wants to change the policy and is making it a reality in 2016, a step up from the old policy which he believes is an unhealthy way of dealing with substance users. A great statement, but still one to be cautiously optimistic about. Lumping cannabis in with addictive substances like heroin and cocaine follows the same dangerous track of thinking seen in the United States and countless other countries by considering pot to be as dangerous as highly addictive drugs with dramatic impacts on users’ physical and mental health. One step forward, one step back you might say. But still, a step in a good direction.
Where Ireland is making a step forward, they are not alone in doing this. Over the past few years, almost thirty countries have begun the process of moving towards either the legalization or decriminalization of cannabis. The status of each of these countries does vary because for some, decriminalization means you can possess but not sell, for others, it means you can travel with cannabis, but not grow. There is a vast variety, and we are so far away from where we need to be.
Ireland, the Emerald Isle, might be green in its foliage, but at the same time, it is missing the green which many of its citizens probably want.
Kudos to the country for their work and bringing about this change. Now let us hope for two things. First, the luck of the Irish will continue to grow, and the green of their country will grow. Second, more countries will follow suit and by the time next St. Patty’s Day rolls around, more people can enjoy the celebration.