How we can stop Ireland’s drug war slaughter: Legalise and control cannabis

ireland-legalise-cannabis

Ireland a bastion of liberal humanism? You think?

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that Ireland is a bastion of liberal humanism, not at all isolated and insular out there on Europe’s western fringe, but a cosmopolitan, secular, fun place to be. You think?

A sign in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin. Take it literally.

Let’s get the story straight. Ireland has gay marriage, yes. We legalised contraception so long ago, in 1980! And homosexuality was decriminalised (thanks to David Norris and the European Convention on Human Rights) all the way back in 1993. That’s, like, the last century, people! We gave women control over their bodies by legalising abortion in 2018. Yes, 2018. We even have a tax on plastic bags. But on top of all the good stuff we still have the Catholic Church’s poisonous, sweaty fingers all over our Constitution, our schools and our healthcare. Religion’s toxic grip left a legacy including child abuse on a biblical scale, division with Northern Ireland’s hardcore Protestants, and politicians who have bent the knee to the Pope on virtually all matters of state. The halcyon days were back in the 1930s, when Eamon de Valera built a proto-fascist Catholic serfdom, while the political party that now runs Ireland – Fine Gael – even sent Blueshirts to Spain to fight for Franco.

Ireland’s police force was formed by the same guy who led Ireland’s fascists to Spain, and has since had to deal with terror campaigns across the island by the IRA, Protestant paramilitaries and the British Government (Dublin/Monaghan bombings, 1974, link below), as well as the non-political terror of drug cartels, paedophiles and corrupt bankers and politicians. They’re kept busy. On top of the over-stretched police force, we have a mostly-colonial prison system that’s bursting at the seams, and typically succeeds at turning young offenders into adult offenders.

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Medical cannabis dispensary, Denver, CO, USA.

Ireland’s billion euro drug market

With illegal drug sales worth at least €1 billion annually in Ireland, recreational cannabis accounts for a market worth €700 million here, with cocaine second at around €200 million. Meanwhile, the global market for medical cannabis is projected to be worth $44 billion by 2024, with the total (legal) cannabis market to be worth $146 billion by 2025, with the market for industrial hemp products to be worth around $10 billion by then. There are clearly enormous opportunities for job creation, new product development and green industry. Add the fact that hemp/cannabis absorbs 10 tons of CO2 per acre grown, and this is a green, sustainable industry, which can also displace many oil-derived products, worth many billions of euro.

More murders in Dublin’s drug wars as Irish Government considers limited liberalisation of cannabis law

Dublin is the centre of Ireland’s illegal drug trade, and there are gang-related murders almost daily. Dublin’s murder rate is one of the highest in Europe, higher than London or Paris, for example. This billion euro market is beyond the law. Current policing and penal approaches simply don’t work. If anything, the drug wars are getting worse.

The Irish Government should take this opportunity to face down the conservative forces that would prefer a populace sozzled on alcohol, and take an enlightened approach to cannabis, learning from the experience of places like Colorado, California and Canada, where cannabis is fully legalized and controlled by the state.

anti-cannabis-propaganda-us-1935
Anti-cannabis propaganda from the Reefer Madness era.

Here are 5 enlightened things the Irish Government can do regarding cannabis

1. Freedom of choice. Have an adult conversation about legal and illegal drugs, and the influences that history, culture and social change have had on our current legal and penal system. Consider that some people might prefer cannabis to alcohol, and this choice does no harm to anybody else.

2. Make possession of cannabis for personal use legal. This should include the freedom to grow cannabis is a safe environment. Further, all recorded convictions for simple possession should be expunged, and the police, courts and prisons should apologise for wasting so much time and resources on so petty an offence.

3. No point going Dutch, as we need to remove the drug gangs’ main source of income. State-licensed cannabis cultivators and retailers can deliver a better product at a cheaper price than criminal gangs. A single compliance network will allow for monitoring of effects on health and society. Bonus: tax on cannabis can generate huge sums for the Government (California has a 15% excise tax on cannabis sales, on top of local taxes and cultivator tax).

4. We can explore the enormous medical potential of cannabis and industrial hemp. THC (psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive) are chemical compounds found in varying levels in cannabis and its sister plant, hemp. Together and separately, these compounds are now accepted by western medicine as helpful for people suffering from cancer, epilepsy, glaucoma, MS and more. The truth is, we don’t fully understand cannabis’s medical potential. But ‘big pharma’ is already in on the act. Let’s fully legalise medical cannabis, so that we can throw off the 1930s shackles that have hindered medical research, and lead the way in sharing new treatments with the world.

5. Cannabis is the largest source of revenue for drug gangs that also sell cocaine, heroin and ecstasy. By legalising the trade in cannabis, the market for upselling heroin dries up. International criminal networks supply much of the product sold in Ireland, and they typically throw in a few guns with deliveries. This kind of makes drug turf wars inevitable. We need to break the cycle.

So, what’s next? Let’s be brave. Let’s embrace change, equality and freedom of choice, while building a safer society and a sustainable economy. This is why Ireland should legalise and regulate cannabis now.

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Learn more

Irish drug trade value, The Irish Times (2006): https://www.irishtimes.com/news/irish-market-for-illegal-drugs-now-worth-1bn-1.1015242

Proposals to liberalise cannabis laws, The Irish Times: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/proposals-to-liberalise-cannabis-laws-expected-before-cabinet-1.3898768

Cannabis laws in Ireland, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannabis_in_Ireland

Top 5 reasons for Ireland to legalise cannabis: http://www.readathriller.com/thriller/top-5-reasons-why-ireland-must-legalise-cannabis-now/

Dublin/Monaghan bombings, 1974, Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin_and_Monaghan_bombings


Image credits

Denver medical cannabis dispensary – © O’Dea at Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Anti-cannabis propaganda from 1935, USA – Federal Bureau of Narcotics [Public domain]

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Top 5 ways to save the European Union

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Europe is fucked

The importance of the upcoming European Parliament elections from 23 – 26 May 2019 can’t be overstated. Brexit has turned everybody off the conversation about Europe, and caused years of policy paralysis. We should have been making things better for Europe’s citizens, but our unelected EU ‘leaders’ have shown poor leadership abilities, while the fascists have risen on Europe’s right flank. Time for action, and fast. Here are 5 quick wins for Europe, to make the EU relevant, inspiring and useful…

Let’s make the EU more democratic

The names Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk have never appeared on a ballot paper, yet they seem to be running the EU. Why? What is the point of the European Parliament? Why should we bother to vote in May? The EU needs to answer these questions, and urgently. And don’t say ‘The information is there if you look for it.’ It’s up to the EU to communicate to its citizens why it works as it does, how it’s changing to reflect the views of the populace, and what a more democratic European Union will look like.

European-Union-Hemp-Readathriller

Let’s build the European Union of Hemp

The United States is leading the way, with the recent legalisation of industrial hemp, added to many states’ embrace of the medicinal and recreational potential of hemp’s sister, cannabis. This is very positive and very welcome. Europe needs to look to America to appreciate the potential of hemp for reducing climate change, for displacing multiple harmful products, for medical treatments and for a safer alternative to alcohol. By legalizing hemp and cannabis at federal EU level, individual member states can develop policies under the protection of the EU.

Let’s make Europe lead the fight against climate change

Hemp is one powerful tool that Europe can deploy to stop climate change. Let’s go further with some big EU ideas. We must tackle livestock subsidies, and stop funding animal production of greenhouse gases. We must ensure that our fisheries become sustainable sources of protein for Europe. We should set a date for banning diesel cars in the EU, embrace and develop the next generation of electric/hydrogen vehicles. We need to ensure commercial aviation cuts its emissions, while expanding fast rail and other less harmful ways to travel within Europe. A rail tunnel from Ireland to France would be awesome. Why can’t we dream big and inspire the next generation?

Let’s ban monarchies, make Europe abide by the ideals of equality and liberty

One good thing about the UK’s departure from the EU is that the EU will then have one less monarchy. It’s pretty disgusting to realise that there will still be six: Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Europe needs to enforce liberal, republican ideals both at high level and at individual member state level. There is no place for monarchies in 21st century Europe. Let’s work to abolish all monarchies within the European Union.

Let’s tell the European story better

Let’s face it, Europe rocks! The European Union has prevented World War 3 by fostering cooperation and fraternity among nations and peoples. We have incredible art and culture, fabulous cities, incredible food and drink, and the jewel of the Mediterranean and all that it has inspired, from Greek democracy to the artists of Spain. We have skiing in the Alps and a surfer’s paradise on the west coast of Ireland. We have Airbus and BMW, Stripe and Mytaxi, GDPR and the Eurovision. The world’s happiest country – Finland – is part of the EU, so why can’t we learn from them and use their strategies across the European Union?

We can and should build a fabulous future for the people of Europe and the world. Europe has been a shining beacon – reflecting what is best about humanity – at many times in her past. We can and must aspire to again being that beacon. We must get past Brexit quickly, so we can again be proud of what we have achieved. And we should make it clear to everyone that the best is yet to come.

Get out and vote in the European Parliament election, May 2019. Cast your vote for the parties that will work to deliver on these ideals.


Image credits/learn more

Flag of the EU, altered for this article under artistic license: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Europe.svg

Interestingly, the 12-starred flag has never been officially adopted as the flag of the EU. Rather, it was kind of inherited from the EC. The flag also represents the quite separate Council of Europe, which has 47 member states including Russia and Turkey. Go figure.

Read more about the 2019 EU Parliament elections on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2019_European_Parliament_election

World’s happiest countries, 2019 (CNN report on UN findings): https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-happiest-countries-united-nations-2019/index.html


Get your European Union of Hemp t-shirt here. Every sale means a hemp plant grown and CO2 removed from the atmosphere.

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Climate strike Dublin, 15 March 2019

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There is no planet B

Some of the 10,000-strong crowd, gathered outside Ireland’s parliament, 15 March 2019. Source: Irish Times video report.

When Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg decided that she couldn’t wait for the adults to take climate change for the existential threat that it is, and started a school strike to draw attention to the issue, did she imagine the scale of what would come? It was a truly impressive butterfly effect to see schools across Ireland close early so that 10,000 students of all ages could converge on the houses of parliament in Dublin, with dozens more protests across the country.

Mylie Rose Byrnes, age 9, gives two thumbs up to the protest.

System change not climate change

In time with a deep drumbeat, the good-natured crowd marched in spring sunshine, from St Stephen’s Green, down Dawson St, and took over all of Molesworth St in front of the Dail, Ireland’s houses of parliament (yes, we kept the British colonial structure after independence in 1921). The placards were many, with some catchy slogans used again and again: There is no planet B. System change not climate change. Even this: F$ck climate change.

The students have called on the Irish Government to declare a climate emergency and have issued a list of six demands to lawmakers:

  1. A transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and a pledge to leave all Irish fossil fuels in the ground.
  2. A climate emergency declaration – including a national information campaign.
  3. A socially fair transition to a carbon-neutral society, preventing need for regular citizens to carry the economic burden.
  4. Immediate implementation of all the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change.
  5. Stronger regulations on corporations that are causing the climate crisis.
  6. The implementation of a Green New Deal that ensures all young school leavers can have livelihoods that don’t damage the planet.

This seems like a reasonable start.


Learn more

Irish Times report on the Dublin event, including video: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/thousands-of-students-in-ireland-join-international-climate-change-protests-1.3827629

Wikipedia article on the movement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_strike_for_climate

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Industrial hemp is now legal in the US – Great news, especially for climate change

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USA decriminalises hemp

2018 was short on good news stories, but President Trump gave the world something to celebrate late in December, when he signed the 2018 US Farm Bill into law. One part of the Farm Bill decriminalised industrial hemp, at federal level, meaning that US farmers can now grow the crop without a complex licensing process, or fear of federal intervention.

reefer-madness-film-poster-1936Reefer Madness and all that

The Marihuana (sic) Tax Act of 1937 effectively made possession or transfer of marihuana illegal throughout the United States under federal law through the imposition of an excise tax on all sales of hemp. This act was brought in to criminalise the use of recreational cannabis, following the infamous Reefer Madness religious propaganda film. Many believe that hemp was effectively criminalised under this act so as to protect the paper and plastics interests of American industrialists. Whatever the truth was, hemp is now legal to grow, without the need for licences or advance tax payment. The 1930s were truly odd.

Hemp for sustainable production that helps the environment

Hemp built America, and much of the modern world, so it’s great to see this plant again taking the lead in the search for sustainable materials that can keep us in the lifestyles to which we’ve become accustomed, but without destroying the planet. An acre of hemp absorbs 10 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, while the processed plants can displace materials and foodstuffs derived from trees, oil and dairy cows. So hemp is the champion that can save the world. And it is truly awesome to see America again take the lead in mass cultivation of hemp.

 

Learn more

This Wikipedia article has great detail on the history of cannabis in the USA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_history_of_cannabis_in_the_United_States

This article from Visual Capitalist has information on the 6,000-year history of medical cannabis: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-medical-cannabis-shown-one-giant-map/

Watch Reefer Madness, IF YOU DARE! https://youtu.be/esfKfTBGadg

Reefer Madness poster credit: By Motion Picture Ventures – posterwire.com direct link, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69820558

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Hemp absorbs 10 tons of CO2 per acre – let’s plant enough hemp to stop climate change

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Don’t listen to climate change deniers

Whatever the deniers may claim, the devastating fires in California are a result of climate change. Carbon dioxide is the biggest problem in climate change. We produce it by burning coal, petrol and gas in electricity production and transportation. Agriculture is another big source of CO2, as are deforestation and cement production. The CO2 that’s released by human activities helps to warm up the atmosphere. This is called the greenhouse effect, and CO2 and other contributing gases, such as methane, are called greenhouse gases, GHGs. A warmer atmosphere has more energy, which unsettles weather patterns and causes more severe weather events. Hurricanes, droughts, forest fires, ice storms are all caused by our GHG emissions.

12 years to save the world

If we don’t curb the global rise in temperatures to 2 degrees C, we go past the tipping point and risk extinction as a species. At current rates, we’ll pass the 2C increase by 2030. We have 12 years to save the world.

We can stop climate change dead in its tracks

We emitted 53.5 gigatons of CO2 in 2017. Global emissions need to be 25% lower than this figure by 2030 in order to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Our planet actually steps up and absorbs about half of that, in oceans and forests (go you, Earth!). To absorb the rest, we’ll need to plant around 670 million acres of hemp. If that sounds like a lot, it actually isn’t. We need hemp growing on around 5% of agricultural land around the world. And because hemp thrives in poor soil (improving the soil in the process!), we can find new places to grow it. By planting enough hemp we can absorb all the CO2 that the human race produces, so we stop global warming dead. We can and will do this.

thco2.com will make this happen

Stay tuned to this blog for thco2.com, a new planet-saving platform coming in 2019. Are you ready to help save planet Earth?

 

Image

Malibu forest fire over LAX. Photo by Gary J Byrnes, 9 November, 2018.

Resources

Main sources of CO2 emissions: https://www.che-project.eu/news/main-sources-carbon-dioxide-emissions

Gigaton  = one billion metric tons

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/07/01/meet-the-gigaton-the-huge-unit-that-scientists-use-to-track-planetary-change/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.febf6e97b986

Agricultural land = 50 million square km

https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.AGRI.K2

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Top 5 reasons why Ireland must legalise cannabis now

Ireland-flag-cannabis-gary-j-byrnes

1. Cannabis legalisation is a global phenomenon

Canada becomes the first G7 nation to introduce complete, nationwide cannabis legalisation on 17 October, 2018. On top of numerous US states, notably California and Colorado, and Uruguay, full legalisation for recreational use is picking up momentum. It’s like the world is waking up to the fact that criminalising the taking of a mellow plant was just a dumb idea to begin with. Decriminalisation of possession for personal use is pretty much a no-brainer in most civilised countries, including Russia and, most recently, South Africa.

So Ireland should immediately decriminalise possession for personal use, on the road to full legalisation.

2. Alcohol is the big problem, people!

We know that alcoholism is a huge problem in Ireland, and in many other countries. It’s just been shown that the only healthy amount of alcohol to consume is zero. Now, we know that 1 in 20 deaths worldwide are directly attributable to alcohol. Total deaths from cannabis ever = ZERO. It’s interesting that a lot of the giant booze companies are buying into Canadian cannabis growers, and in a big way. The alcohol producers know that cannabis is a less harmful drug, and is the future.

Why can’t the Irish Government wake up to the fact that cannabis is less harmful to our health, and to society, than alcohol?

3. Cannabis helps get junkies off their opiates/opioids

In the United States, where opioid addiction is a huge problem, early trials are showing that cannabis is an effective replacement for both synthetic (opioid) and natural (opiate) addiction. In Ireland, we give methadone to heroin users. Methadone is a synthetic opioid developed by the Nazis, with a horrendous range of risks and side effects.

Dublin is the opiate addiction capital of Europe and the city’s streets are ravaged by the walking dead. Let’s treat heroin addiction with joints, not Nazi chemicals, so that we have less street crime and better health outcomes.

4. Police can solve real crimes

It’s hilarious that Irish news reports commonly carry reports of cops busting shipments of a few kilos of cannabis ‘herb’ (i.e. grass) and shutting down grow rooms. These are easy busts. More alarmingly, cannabis is often intercepted in shipments that also include heroin and guns. Hashish is typically imported from countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, along with heroin. So, by allowing an illicit market for these products, we are directly supporting the Taliban, al-Qaeda and IS.

Licence the cultivation and sale of cannabis and keep the profits out of the pockets of terrorists and criminal gangs, who actually don’t give a fuck about the end user’s health or age. Also, Islamic terrorists flood Europe with cheap heroin to help destroy our societies. Cunts. Take this power from them and let the cops solve some true crimes. Interestingly, the enlightened US states are expunging (deleting) the criminal records of anyone busted for cannabis in recent decades. There’s also the added benefit of not sending people to jail for cannabis and having them come out of jail heroin addicts!

5. We can embrace the health benefits of cannabis and CBD

The Irish Government tried to introduce liberal medical cannabis legislation last year, but that was shot down by the conservative deep state. The old fuckers who continue to try their best to keep us in the Catholic Dark Age worried that medical cannabis could end up being used recreationally. Medical cannabis, along with CBD (cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive hemp product)  is now accepted in most civilised countries as having real benefits for people suffering from epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s. It is also beneficial to people with cancer – for pain relief – and in treating the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy.

Let’s just legalise cannabis across the board, so those who need cannabis for medical and leisure reasons can get it, in a controlled manner. Fuck big pharma, which hates the idea that people could actually grow their own medicine at home! This broad legalisation approach will also allow for more research into the medical benefits of cannabis, and generate substantial tax revenues.

What next?

Contact your local political representative, include a link to this post, talk about the benefits, and ask them to get on board the legalisation train.

Contact the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar (@leovaradkar) and the Health Minister Simon Harris (@SimonHarrisTD) and ask them to push for legalisation.

Catherine Byrne has been tasked with reviewing the legal position of cannabis in Ireland. Share your views with her: @CByrneTD

Further reading

List of countries where it’s okay to smoke a joint (just be discrete!): https://www.thrillist.com/vice/30-places-where-weed-is-legal-cities-and-countries-with-decriminalized-marijuana#

WHO report on the health and social costs of alcohol: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/alcohol/en/

What is methadone? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methadone

Positive policing changes after legalization: https://phys.org/news/2018-07-positive-policing-cannabis-legalization.html

Medical cannabis, where does Ireland stand? https://www.irishtimes.com/news/health/medicinal-cannabis-where-does-ireland-stand-1.3490547

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