Fianna Fail have been accused of being “outdated” for their stance against decriminalisation of cannabis – and saying the drug is dangerous.
Fianna Fail candidate Mary Fitzpatrick made the comments on Friday when speaking to the media about drugs and crime in the wake of gangland murders in Dublin and Drogheda in the last year.
Ms Fitzpatrick said there was a sense of ambivalence from teenagers in Ireland about cannabis, a mentality of “it’s OK, it’s just cannabis”, and said more must be done to inform young people about drugs.
“It’s hugely damaging to their future and hugely damaging for their community,” she said.
“At the moment the messaging, to a certain extent the HSE takes on some level of communications, but we need to get those messages delivered in the schools, by communities, and young people need to buy into this as well.
“Young people have been really captured by what happened to young Keane (Mulready Woods), the connection there is, there’s an opportunity to connect that in their minds.
“We as adults in society need to say ‘this isn’t acceptable and we won’t normalise it’, and as adults we have to live that truth as well.”
The comments have been rejected by People Before Profit’s Gino Kenny as “completely outdated”.
“Obviously cannabis is very prevalent to society, whether we like it or not, and some young people are consuming it,” he said.
“My stance on it would be, and our party’s stance on it is, that it needs to be regulated, and I would even go further than decriminalisation, it has to be legalised.
“At the moment, it’s unregulated and if people are in possession, then they could be criminalised.
“I think that generally has been a waste of resources for our society, and I think we have to be discussing the legalisation of cannabis.
“There has to be a different model of how it’s actually regulated by the state.
“People are going to consume drugs whether we like it or not, but there has to be a different mindset – throwing more laws and more police resources in preventing people consuming any drug hasn’t really worked because people are consuming more drugs probably than ever.
“Look about other drugs that are legal, just a particular alcohol or tobacco, they kill people on a regular basis.
“Of course, over-consumption of cannabis is not good for your health whatsoever, which is more reason that it should be regulated and taken out of the hands of criminal gangs.
“I don’t think it’s more dangerous than any other substance that’s legal.”
Solidarity PBP @RuthCoppingerTD says âits hardly a secret that people take recreational drugsâ and says suggestions that people who go out and smoke cannabis at the weekend are enabling current crime issues are âridiculousâ. pic.twitter.com/KxB4pG9lyX— aoife-grace moore. (@aoifegracemoore) January 17, 2020
Mr Kenny’s party colleague Ruth Coppinger echoed the sentiment when asked about the current state of law and order in Ireland.
“It’s hardly a secret that people take recreational drugs, alcohol is a drug that’s legal and causes a lot of damage in society,” she said.
“I hear this often in the media, that someone goes out on a Saturday and smokes hash is actually worse and enabling the whole crime issue, that’s ridiculous, you can’t just say suddenly people are going to stop using drugs – that’s not going to happen.
“We have to deal with the causes of drug abuse which are social and class based.”