The total value of the cannabis seized by Revenue was just under €13.5 million. This represents just a fraction of the total €91 million worth of drugs seized and destroyed in 2014.
This figure of €91 million is up significantly from 2013, when just under €19 million worth of drugs were seized.
Interestingly the value of drugs seized last year (€91 million) represents almost half of the total seized over the past 5 years, which comes to around €185 million.
In total Revenue made (or assisted with) 6,158 drug seizures last year, the biggest was a seizure of over 1,000kg of cocaine on a yacht
This 673 kilograms of cannabis is only a figure for what has been seized, which likely makes up a small fraction of the amount of cannabis in circulation in Ireland. The exact amount is hard to gauge, but some commentators suggest customs are lucky if they capture 1/10th of what arrives.
While the new Minister for Drugs Strategy seems to view cannabis decriminalisation positively, and an Oireachtas committee recently visited Portugal, it remains to be seen if Ireland will continue to punish cannabis users.
The Central Statistics Office has yet to release its crime figures for 2014, but judging by the Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 data available, we see that drug offences for 2014 are likely to come in above the 15,384 figure recorded in 2013.
Of this figure a substantial number are individuals apprehended for offences such as cannabis possession, possession with intent to supply, cannabis cultivation and so on.
In light of the recent finding from the Global Drugs Survey, that 98.5% of Irish cannabis users have never experienced violence purchasing cannabis, there is an argument to be made that most cannabis users caught are non-violent, and thus any prison sentence is perhaps unwarranted.
While legalisation may never happen, one can perhaps hope a form of decriminalisation for personal possesion may become a reality.
Although this 673kg of cannabis is an impressive figure, it makes one wonder just how much cannabis is actually in circulation. Plus one wonders what the potentials are for bringing this trade into the legal marketplace. Some estimates say a legal cannabis trade could be worth half a billion to the Irish economy.
This is just the economical benefit, one must also look at the medical, judicial and societal elements of cannabis law reform. No matter the effect of law change, the debate around it is long overdue.
No longer should we criminalise drug users. This policy has failed and we have decades of evidence to show for it.