American comedian and commentator, Will Rogers, once said of alcohol prohibition in the US that “prohibition is better than no alcohol at all”.
Although Rogers made his quip as a means of generating humour, he made a very valid point on the purpose of prohibition. It just doesn’t work.
Alcohol prohibition in the US did not prevent people from drinking alcohol, it just made the process more convoluted. It also made spirits – a form of alcohol that was very rarely acquired prior to prohibition – one of the highest forms of consumed alcohol due to its easy ability to hide and smuggle vast quantities.
Prior to the 20 US states and the District of Columbia passing laws allowing some degree of medical use of marijuana, and 14 states decriminalizing it to some degree, similar events surrounded the prohibition of cannabis.
It was still being used heavily throughout the US. And it was wasting precious police time, removing the man hours from being able to focus on more deadly drugs and/or crimes.
“I don’t smoke weed”, explained Kelley Duffy, a South Dublin mother, “but I know that if I wanted to get my hands on it it could in less than 30 minutes. An hour at max.”
Mark, a cannabis user, claims, “Sure it might as well be legal, because its not like people can’t get it as it is.”
He continued to explain. “People who want to smoke it are smoking it. Just because you can’t doesn’t mean it will stop people.
“Look at alcohol – people under 18 still get their hands on it and still drink. If people want to do it they will do it. Look at the massive increase in heroin use in Ireland. Surely tackling that is more important than some bits of plant.”
Forbes Magazine calculated that a 15% tax on the estimated 600,000 Coloradans cannabis smokers will generate over $130 million in revenue for the state of Colorado.
TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, who was the man who has put the decriminalization bill to the Dail, estimated that cannabis could raise €300 million in revenue for the country.
Flanagan’s estimate may be on the optimistic side of the tax scale, but even a tax figure closer to the estimate given by Forbes would be of great benefit to a struggling Irish economy.However Fanagan was correct in saying that cannabis decriminalisation would “free up” garda resources.
“Even if it is not legal to smoke it, it should be legal for medicinal use”, stated Donna, whose mother suffers from severe arthritis.
“I use it for recreational use, but my mother takes a very small amount before bed and it helps her to no end.
“It relieves her pain, allows her to get to sleep. She doesn’t need to take three of her pills, that really don’t agree with her. It works wonders for her and I think that it is a disgrace that people who need it can’t.”
The bill will be either passed or rejected by the Dail on the 6th of November. The decision of the bill will have great consequences for hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens – many would argue positive, while some will still argue negative.