Ivana Bacik, the leader of the Labour party has shown her support for implementing a ‘rational’ approach to drugs and drug laws in Ireland.
There are many people in Ireland who have previously consumed or currently consume cannabis. A report released in June 2022 by the Health Research Board found that nearly 21% of the population had taken cannabis at least once in their lifetime, and 2.9% of the population, around 113,000 had used it within the past month.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Ms Bacik called for the sale of cannabis to be permitted and licensed by the state. Giving an example of how this could work, she suggested that cannabis be sold at places like music festivals, such as Electric Picnic.
Ms Bacik, who has been the leader of Labour since February 2022, also said that politicians need to accept the reality that cannabis is now taken recreationally by many consumers in Ireland.
Addressing the broader issue of drug use within the Republic of Ireland, the Labour leader said that politicians should employ a ‘harm reduction based policy’, and used other countries as an example.
“There’s a clear momentum internationally to adopt a more rational harm reduction based policy on drugs.
“So if you look at Canada, but also many states now in the US and of course Portugal closer to home, you see a new model of regulation of cannabis that’s about legalising it, but obviously about restricting sale in the same way that we restrict the sale of alcohol or tobacco,” she said.
“I think that’s a rational policy.”
Tweeting in favour of the Labour leader, Dr Garrett McGovern, an experienced GP specialising in addiction medicine and also the founder and Medical Director of a private addiction clinic in Ireland, said ‘The sands of national and international drug policy are shifting.”
— Dr. Garrett McGovern 🇺🇦 (@AddictionsPMC) March 25, 2023
Some commentators have viewed Miss Bacik’s comments as a way to win votes from young people in the run-up to a general election which could happen anytime before spring 2025, with the current Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar hinting earlier in the year that the vote may take place in autumn this year.