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.

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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 in 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). So a 15% tax on retail sales of €700 million would directly generate €105 million in State taxes a year.

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 makes drug turf wars kind of inevitable. We need to break the cycle. Even worse: Hash (cannabis resin) and heroin are produced in places like Afghanistan, so illegal drug sales in Ireland (and elsewhere) directly fund the Taliban, Islamic State and Al-Qaeda, on top of the local gangsters.

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.

Readathriller-marketplace-shopify-link

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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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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Flash fiction – Privilege Revoked by Gary J Byrnes

Tell a story in 300 words or less

Flash fiction is all about brevity. From Ernest Hemingway’s famed six word story (look it up!) to the Liberties Flash Fiction competition’s 300 words, it’s a great exercise. My story, Privilege Revoked, won the 2015 competition, and I publish it here for your enjoyment (Note: this story contains the c-word, and I don’t mean Christmas).

liberties-flash-fiction-dublin-ireland-gary-j-byrnes

Privilege Revoked

by Gary J Byrnes, 2015

Jesus, the heat on Francis Street today. Every day for six months had been the “hottest day ever”. As Tommy passed through the security scanner at the pub entrance, the TV wall babbled about how fossil fuels were the best hope for a sustainable future. His body image flashed onto the scanner screen, every fold of fat on show, each cavity exposed.

‘Jaysus, Tommy. There’s a void in your stomach, cryin’ out for a pint of stout,’ laughed the security twat as he checked Tommy’s toolbox.

Tommy grunted, took his tools, sat himself at the bar. The droid whirred along its rail.

‘Pint of plain, cunt,’ said Tommy, inserting his WorthCard into the slot on the counter. He always took pleasure in this robot’s lack of insult chips. It was the little things.

The robot found a plastic half-litre jug and held it under the relevant dispenser. It suddenly jerked back. No stout flowed.

‘Pardon me, sir or madam. It appears that your WorthCard has declined this transaction. It transpires that your residential water bill has not been discharged to the System’s satisfaction. Alcohol privilege is revoked until the matter is resolved. Thank you and good day.’

The bardroid whirred to another customer.

Tommy slumped on his stool, everything finally catching up with him. Twenty years on from the Crash of ‘08, life was shit. No other word for it. Just shit. The EFU – Euro Fascist Union –  now controlled every aspect of life. No, call it existence. The fucking robots had all the jobs and the function of the ninety-nine percent came down to serving the elite, tending their droids, managing welfare credits, and not much else.

Tommy snapped open his toolbox, found a nice big wrench.

The end.

Would you like to read more Liberties flash fiction?

Get the Liberties Flash Fiction Collection, free from Smashwords (any ebook format or read online): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/568168

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Vote yes to remove blasphemy from Ireland’s Constitution (Yes we did!)

de-valera-mcquaid-kissing-ring

Peasant Ireland

Picture the times: Peasants roamed the shabby streets, gathering the droppings from passing horses and the occasional nuggets of coal that fell from carts, numbed the pain of existence with stout and whiskey. It was a filthy land, the deep wounds left by tribal conflicts still oozing poison. Into the social void, the high priests, with their glittering temples and mysterious ways, had assumed absolute power. ‘See this shining thing’, they proclaimed to the uneducated masses. ‘It is all that you need. Let us take your souls, your minds and your bodies, and the shining thing will give you a wonderful life. When you’re dead.’ ‘Oooh,’ gasped the peasants.

That was Ireland, in 1937. That’s when Eamon de Valera and the Catholic Church wrote Ireland’s Consitution. Together.

The Irish Consitution is truly a primitive and uninformed document, written with the specific purpose of keeping the peasants in the shit (literally), while the Church and State could reap their bodies and souls, while maintaining the social order. I believe that the whole Constitution should be discarded, and a completely new document created, one which can be used to unite all the peoples on this island, and with human dignity at its core.

But, for now, we continue to amend the Consitution. On October 26, 2018, Ireland will vote for our President, and voters will also have the opportunity to remove blasphemy from the Constitution.

The current text in the Constitution reads (Article 40.6.1):

The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.

Bizarrely, the law defining the offence and penalties only came into effect in 2009. Yes, 2009. A Fianna Fail/Green Party coalition, led by Brian Cowen, decided that, with the world tumbling into a debt-driven cycle of despair, and Ireland selling out her peasants to pay off European banks’ gambling debts, we really needed to get blasphemy onto the statute books for once and for all. Yes, we defined the punishment for blasphemy in 2009.

The Defamation Act 2009

That Act says that a person publishes or utters something blasphemous if they publish or say something that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and intend to cause that outrage.

Under the 2009 Act, where a person is accused of the criminal offence of publishing or saying something blasphemous, it is a defence if they can prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific or academic value in what they published or said. If convicted of this offence, a person may be fined up to €25,000. There is no prison sentence for this offence.

Freedom of expression

So, let’s get blasphemy out of the Irish Constitution, and let the Government expunge its nastiness from the law. Sedition and indecent matter will stay in, why not just get rid of the whole shitty shooting match? It’s called freedom of expression.

ireland-constitution-blasphemy-referendum-2018
Why can’t we freely criticise a dysfunctional state? Who decides what ‘indecent’ means? We should remove all this text shown above.

Check out the Preamble to the Irish Constitution

As part of my reasoning for the drafting of an entirely new Constitution for Ireland, I invite you to read the offensive Preamble to the Irish Constitution:

In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

We, the people of Éire,

Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,

Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,

And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,

Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.

OMFG! WTF?

Update, 27 November, 2018

Today, President Michael D Higgins (who was re-elected, thankfully, on the day of the blasphemy referendum), signed the order that removed the offence of blasphemy from Ireland’s Constitution. 65% voted for this to happen, 35% wanted to keep blasphemy in the Constitution. While it’s shocking that a third of the population still fearss the wrath of the invisible sky god, we must see this outcome as progress. Go, Ireland!

Read the blasphemy referendum results in detail here (I’m worried about Donegal): https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/blasphemy-referendum-results

Sources

Referendum Commission

https://www.refcom.ie/current-referendums/referendum-on-blasphemy/present-legal-position/

Irish Constitution

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Ireland_(consolidated_text)

Picture credits

Photograph of President de Valera kissing the ring of Rev. Dr. John Charles McQuaid Archbishop of Dublin: UCD School of History and Archives. UCD Archives. Press Photographs of Eamon de Valera (1882–1975). P150/PH/3855

What’s next?

Make sure you vote!

Join my Facebook group, Secular Ireland: https://www.facebook.com/SecularIreland/

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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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