Donegal TD says current cannabis laws are ‘a waste of Garda time’

A Donegal TD has said the current cannabis laws in the country are ‘a waste of Garda time’.

Deputy Thomas Pringle, slammed Government for stalling a bill to decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, saying criminalisation in this case is ‘nonsensical’.

Addressing the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “I fully support this bill to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Treating the possession of this as an offence is nonsensical, and frankly ridiculous, and I believe that the majority of the public would agree as well.


“Not only this, but the criminalisation of people who are in possession of a small amount of cannabis is a massive waste of Garda time, especially during what we are told is a Garda shortage. Reports over the last few months indicate that the decline in Garda numbers have caused gardaí to struggle to keep up with policing demands, including 999 calls.

“One Garda member told The Irish Times recently that although gardaí had complained for years about a shortage of Garda vehicles, they now don’t have enough gardaí to drive the vehicles. It doesn’t make sense that gardaí are forced to waste their time on the possession of cannabis for personal use, while at the same time struggling to keep up with emergency calls. It is also a complete waste of time for the courts, which are also struggling to deal with a backlog of thousands of court summonses.

“Seventy percent of all drug offences were for personal possession in 2022, contributing massively to the clog up of our justice system and to the strain on Garda resources. It is clear that our priorities are completely wrong here and that our justice system is wasting its resources on people who are not causing any harm or danger,” he said.

The deputy was speaking on the Misuse of Drugs (Cannabis Regulation) Bill 2022 and thanked People Before Profit and Gino Kenny, TD, for bringing forward the legislation.

Deputy Pringle said: “The Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs has recommended the decriminalisation of certain drugs, including cannabis, as part of a move to look at drugs under a health-led approach as opposed to a criminal justice approach.

“I believe that the Citizens’ Assembly wasted a major opportunity to draw on many important resources and international expertise, but still they came to this conclusion, that cannabis should be decriminalised. So why then is this government dragging its heels on this? Why are they refusing to progress this bill today when all they are doing is stalling much-needed reform.

“Research shows that drug-related deaths plummeted in Portugal following decriminalisation in 2001, remaining below 2001 levels and well below the current EU average. By not following up on the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations we are putting lives at risk and we are failing to act on what the Citizens’ Assembly set out to do in the first place, to reform drugs policy in this country.


“Drug use is a reality of many people’s lives across every community in Ireland. Pretending this isn’t the case and continuing with the criminalisation of this is nonsensical and a serious step back. Reforming how we understand and respond to drug use should be a priority for us all,” he said.

The bill is very moderate, the deputy said.

Deputy Pringle said: “It really is a very small step forward, which is why it is so concerning that the Government refuses to take this step. The Minister in her opening statement said that the government is committed to taking a health-led approach, while at the same time doing the opposite by stalling this very important bill and suggesting that the legislation is somehow premature. How can the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use be premature when so many countries around the world and in Europe have not only decriminalised, but have legalised the recreational use of cannabis?” he said.

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