The Cannabis Bill presented to the Irish government by Independent TD Luke “Ming” Flanagan was defeated on Thursday in the Dáil by a vote of 111-8. Even so, supporters of the bill were heartened by the number of TDs who spoke in favor of legalizing cannabis for responsible adult use in Ireland.
United Left Alliance TD Clare Daly said she believes that it is inevitable that cannabis will be legalized, and that the debate highlighted the importance of cannabis for medical use. Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins welcomed the bill, saying he believes regulation would remove "cut-throat gangsters" from the scene. And Fine Gael TD Paul Connaughton said it was wrong not to admit that cannabis is widely available in Ireland; he supports legalizing it for medical reasons, but not for recreational use. He also pointed out that alcohol is a national problem that needs to be addressed.
Flanagan presented statistics counteracting claims that cannabis is harmful, and said there are myths surrounding the drug. He urged TDs to vote for the motion, saying, "It's going to be a wonderful thing for the country." He also congratulated TD Connaughton for his speech on the subject, saying it was "the bravest statement yet" from a Government TD.
Support for legalizing cannabis is at an all-time high in Ireland; according to a recent poll conducted by The Journal, 84% of Irish citizens support full legalization for both medical and recreational use. Flanagan’s Cannabis Regulation Bill was the first salvo in the battle to allow responsible Irish adults access to the benefits of cannabis. This is only the beginning.