Earlier in the week you may have read that the UCD Student Union had rejected a proposal to support the legalisation of cannabis
Many were surprised not only by the outcome, but by the fact a university was undertaking such a debate and vote. Well luckily there is more to come.
In a few weeks thousands of students will have a chance to have their say on cannabis. On March 5th students of NUI Galway will vote on whether their campus is pro-legalisation or not.
NUI Galway Students For Sensible Drug Policy made the announcement on Friday having worked on bringing the motion forward.
Such student referendums have taken place around same sex marriage, abortion and other issues on campuses across Ireland. In fact UCD students, well the 15% that voted, overwhelmingly backed a motion to support marriage equality during the week
Some people are fairly cynical and apathetic about such votes, including students themselves, as seen by the turnout at UCD which was around 15%. This is a similar figure my university UCC had recently with its referendums
But there are some positives that can come from holding such a vote, regardless of the outcome.
The story can end up in the media, especially local. It can cause discussion on campus, which is always a good thing. It would be a moral victory for SSDP activists. It might encourage other campuses and students to get involved in the debate, and much more.
If you are an NUI Galway student then you will be eligible to vote on March 5th, as long as you have your student card.
A campaign page has been established and you can follow the updates as they unfold. There will events taking place ahead of the vote, and may even see a well known face or two make an appearance on campus.
I asked NUI Galway’s SSDP for a statement on the referendum and their auditor Ciaran Maher kindly issued the following:
“Our main motivation for prompting this referendum is simple, the cannabis laws in Ireland are highly draconian and need to be reformed. A society that professes to be one that values personal liberty should leave adults free to consume cannabis if they so wish. We hope that this referendum will generate a discussion on the issue, both in NUI Galway and nationally. Our goal is for this referendum to pass and for it to inspire students in the rest of the countries universities to work towards pushing similar efforts in the future.”
Even if you’re not a student still post about the vote to social media and elsewhere. There is a chance you will have friends or family in NUI Galway, or in typical Irish fashion, a friend of a friend.
Either way encourage people to vote, even if you cannot vote yourself.
If you want to learn more about the voting process in NUI Galway then you can read their election guide
It is also worth mentioning that an SSDP chapter in Dublin City University was established this past week. DCU joins the list featuring: Athlone IT, Cork IT, NUI Galway and UCC which have an SSDP chapter in their institutions.
If you’re a student at an institution without a chapter why not help establish one yourself? Get in touch with SSDP Ireland for assistance.
For those in NUI Galway don’t forget to go out and vote on March 5th. A good turnout and and a high pro-legalisation vote (no pun intended) would send a clear and strong message.