by Louise Doyle
A GLOBAL movement to break down stigma around cannabis use for medicinal purposes has been gaining momentum in Donegal, due to the actions of one woman.
Candice Faulkner is spearheading the campaign locally through her Facebook page, ‘Donegal Cannabis Social Club’. Since the Buncrana woman set up the page in November last, it has been garnering huge interest with more than 6,000 ‘likes’ so far.
Ms Faulkner says the page aims to end the stigma and share facts, adding it advocates for the right for those in Donegal, to access legal whole plant cannabis for medical and wellness purposes.
Those behind the site say they are calling for the right to access whole plant cannabis for medical and wellness purposes in Donegal.
Speaking to the Donegal News, Ms Faulkner explained why she decided to establish the page.
“I met my boyfriend, Tony, about a year-and-a-half ago. He runs Legenderry Cannabis Club in Derry, and I thought Donegal could be doing with the same kind of club, so I started it up in November of last year.
“We are a support network for medical users to spread the knowledge about the cannabis plant so that people can make rational and informed decisions.
“It’s a fundamental human right to use cannabis as medicine. It’s used to treat MS, depression, arthritis and the list goes on. The average age in the club is 30 years and over.”
Continuing, the busy mum said the response has so far been “very positive”.
“The reaction has been great, very positive. As well as the page, there is also a private group for members which allows them to talk in a private capacity and have support from one another.
“I receive messages four or five times a day from people who use Cannabis for medicinal purposes. The attitude is definitely changing out there, and the medical benefits have been scientifically proven.”
Ms Faulkner dismissed suggestions that the consumption of cannabis could potentially lead people down a route of engaging in other drugs.
“Alcohol is the gateway drug, not cannabis. It’s legal in Colorado and prescription drug sales are down 25 percent. I am adamant the club is not a place to buy, sell or source cannabis. We want people to be connected only through a genuine need.
“I don’t believe that anyone who takes cannabis will be led down a tougher drug path, the real glittering drug is alcohol. Everyone has the fundamental right to feel well and to health. Why should someone suffer with chronic pain?”
Continuing, Ms Faulkner said there are exciting plans going forward for the group, with steps to have the club recognised in a legal capacity.
“I did a bit of research into how I could make the club a more legal thing. So we registered with PPN in Donegal and the charity regulator so I could work with the
Government’s system to get medical cannabis to Donegal as quickly as possible, and I hope I hear back from them.
“I have done research on how to turn it into a legal entity and get a PPN network. I registered with the charities regulator to get it registered as a club.
“If this was legalised it would take drug dealers off the streets and those with chronic pain and illness. Would that not be better than the situation we have now in which people are being criminalised?
“The law is wrong. My friends and family trust me and they know I have done my research and believe in me.”
For more information see ‘Donegal Cannabis Social Club’ on Facebook or email www.irishcannabisclubunion.com
The figures, released to Councillor Ciaran Brogan this week, show an increase of 13.3% on the previous year.