A Lisburn councillor believes cannabis should be legalised and his call seems to have gained support from many people in the city.
Following the legalisation of marijuana in the United States, NI21 Councillor Johnny McCarthy said now is the time for Northern Ireland to reconsider its current drug laws.
In recent months, a number of defendants have appeared in Lisburn Magistrates Court to face charges of possession of drugs. Some claimed they are using the cannabis for medical reasons, to ease pain and relief symptoms of chronic illnesses and they have been strongly supported by comments on the Star’s Facebook page.
Mr McCarthy said that while cannabis “isn’t going to cure everything” it has been proven to help sufferers of chronic conditions.
He believes that new legislation should be based on “research and evidence” but that now was the time to reconsider the decriminalisation of cannabis.
“The evidence coming from Colorado, where it has been legalised, is that it has raised $60 million in taxes and overall drug use is down,” continued Mr McCarthy.
“You have to have a licence to sell in Colorada, as you do for alcohol. This also leads to safer products, making it less dangerous than if it was pushed underground,”
The Lisburn councillor has dismissed the view that cannabis could be a ‘gateway drug’ to stronger substances, stating that alcohol is just as likely to be a gateway drug as cannabis.
“I wouldn’t push for the legalisation of all drugs but I do think there has been a shift in public opinion on the issue.”
The Star asked Facebook followers for their view on the issue. Neil Gibson said it should be “decriminalised taxed and sold in chemists. Take revenue out of gangsters pockets. All the law enforcement in the country couldn’t stop people from taking it if they desire so it would be far better regulated and not lining drug lords pockets.”
James Lavery said “Legalize it” and John Stewart believed that alcohol does more damage.
However, others believed this could open the doors for further abuse. Alastair Luken said: “I’d rather promote physically and mentally healthy lifestyles. I’m a really liberal person but I believe that this would be an excuse for many to abuse cannabis rather than use it responsibly.”
And Alfie McCrory dded: “Drugs are for mugs.”