Hello and welcome to the 2014 review where we look back at some of the stories that made the headlines during last year. It was another year of activism, politics, busts, convictions and the usual shenanigans.
In this first of two parts we look at events that took place between January and June. The second part will look at July to the years end and will be posted in the coming days.
Revenue commissioners released information for 2013 which showed it seized more than €44 million worth of drugs according to its annual report. Revenue said it seized cannabis worth more than €11 million over the course of 2013.
On January 9th poll results showed that 38 per cent of people in Ireland now support cannabis legalisation according to the Paddy Power/Red C poll.
James MacGuill, a criminal lawyer and a former president of the Law Society of Ireland, urged a rethink of the law on cannabis. “There would be great benefits to having a mature debate potentially leading to the legalisation of certain currently proscribed drugs,” he said.
The Irish Examiner did a number of reports on cannabis grow houses. One looked at some of the stats around cannabis, another looked at how cannabis factories are a bonanza for criminal gangs, another article looked at the damage grow rooms can do to property, another article claimed some gardeners are no more than slaves.
A National Drugs Strategy Conference was held in Dublin Castle on 16th January 2014, speakers included Susan Scally, Head of Drug Policy Unit at the Department of Health, the Minister of state for Primary Care, Alex White TD and An Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD. You can view the videos here.
Figures released on drugs-related deaths in Ireland show that one person dies from a drug overdose every day in Ireland.
Mark Fitzsimions, a blind medical cannabis user, handed himself into garda with the aim to be charged with possession in order to challenge the law.
The Irish Times reported that support is growing slowly for the legalisation of cannabis in Ireland.
One of the biggest busts during the month was a cannabis seizure worth €100,000.
In Athlone on February 10th, Fr. Peter McVerry spoke about the legalisation of drugs at an event looking at the subject.
It was reported that drivers would be facing a 15-minute wait for test results when new mandatory drugs tests come into effect.
Journalist Colette Browne wrote a piece in the Irish Examiner asking “Why should teenagers become criminals for taking the odd spliff?”
SSDP Cork hosted an event on Hemp featuring builder Steve Allin and Barry Caslin of Teagasc.
Cannabis worth €220,000 was seized in Clondalkin.
Pina shared these wonderful photos of the Hemp Museum in Dublin.
A motion to legalise cannabis for personal consumption, sale and production was defeated at Fine Gael’s Ard Fheis.
Fianna Fail had a motion to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes, although I cannot seem to find the result. Leave a comment below if you do.
It was reported that a panel of Senators and TDs would consider a petition to legalise cannabis. I can’t find the result but as the report implies it was unlikely to be passed.
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan was critiical of a hard-hitting attack by a UN monitoring body on cannabis legalisation in Uruguay and within the US.
It was reported that Gardaí seize more heroin than any other drug on O’Connell Street.
A judge called for the reform of drugs legislation, which has seen so-called ‘drug mules’ charged with more serious offences than major players.
A total of 120 kg of cannabis herb was seized in Coolock with an estimated street value of €2.5 million.
Tony Duffin, the Director of the Ana Liffey Drug Project, wrote a piece for thejournal.ie entitled “Legislation changes our drugs landscape – but it isn’t a complete solution” in which he argued it is time to acknowledge that drug and alcohol use is a part of modern society –and a public health issue to be managed.
It was reported that Ireland sends more Asian people to jail for growing cannabis than Irish people. A report found that Ireland may be sending victims of slavery to prison, rather than helping to free them.
SSDP Ireland members attended the United Nations Conference on Narcotic Drugs.
Journalist Una Mullally wrote a piece looking at why drug users should be decriminalised. Drug dealing and drug taking on the street has become a frightening public health issue according to the article.
A prison dog was taken ill after eating drugs thrown over a wall.
SSDP Ireland hosted its first national conference which saw guest speakers including Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Dr. Paul O’Mahony, Tim Bingham and others speak in Galway.
It was reported that checks fail to curb drug abuse in Irish prisons. An investigation by the State’s drugs advisory body said prison authorities “should recognise that drugs, particularly cannabis, were making their way through the security checks”.
There were also calls to expand drug treatment in prison.
A protest took place in Dublin on April 20th as part of the international day for cannabis liberation.
Two GPs who want cannabis legalised and regulated for both recreational and medicinal use won support from their doctors’ body to set up an expert committee to look at the drug’s “positive and negative” effects.
SSDP Ireland called for the decriminalisation of drug possession
It was reported that Ireland has the most expensive cannabis in the world. Other stats were also revealed in this report.
Vice reported that immigrants are being kept as cannabis slaves in both Ireland and Britain.
Tony Duffin (Director of the Ana Liffey) wrote about drugs on the Dark Net for thejournal.ie
Luke ’Ming’ Flanagan alleged serious corruption in the garda drugs squad.
Steve Allin posted a picture of a stone cottage that has Hempcrete cast around it that he finished in Cloyne Co Cork. This project was being monitored by UCC as part of the NEES project.
The Local and European elections took place in May, I myself was an unsuccessful candidate in the local elections.
Mark Fitzsimions, the blind activist who handed himself into garda to challenge the law was unsuccessful in his European election bid.
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan topped the poll in Midlands-North-West region and became an MEP.
A question on cannabis was one of a number Taoiseach Enda Kenny ignored during a Facebook Q&A.
It was reported in a new study by Eurobarometer that Ireland has the highest number of young people who have used cannabis in the past year (28pc) compared to an EU average of 17pc.
SSDP hosted Support Don’t Punish protests in Athlone, Cork, Clare, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Wexford on June 26th.
NORML Ireland held its first public meeting.
Tom Curran, the partner of Marie Fleming who unsuccessfully challenged the right to die laws in Ireland, admitted to growing cannabis for her MS. It is also worth nothing he was an unsuccessful candidate in the local elections in May.
Tony Duffin (Ana Liffey Drug Project) wrote a piece for thejournal.ie in which he claimed The ‘War on Drugs’ has failed – let’s finally implement policies that make sense
Irish activists attended the NORML UK AGM in Bristol.
Nearly six out of 10 young people in Ireland believe the sale of cannabis should be regulated, according to a European survey.
It was reported that Irish people are the ‘most likely to use legal highs’