Tánaiste Micheál Martin has said he fears legalising cannabis in Ireland because such a move could create the impression that drug-taking is acceptable.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Mr Martin said his attitude towards drugs is to focus on prevention of use, and he finds it “crazy” that people are taking drugs while socialising.
He said that people dabbling in drugs is problematic, and they may not realise they are “storing up problems for themselves”.
He said he finds it hard to comprehend the “habitual” use of drugs by young people given there is a “fine line between having a good time and disaster”.
Mr Martin stressed that there is a difference between decriminalisation, which he is in favour of, and “making everything legal”.
The Tánaiste said medical personnel have informed him that cannabis products are much more potent now, and they believe it is a contributing factor in schizophrenia, particularly if people are using cannabis early in their teenage years.
“I’d be very worried if you legalise it. You create a kind of idea that it's fine,” said Mr Martin. “But I don't think we should criminalise people either; there's a difference between decriminalisation, which I'm in favour of, and making everything legal, but I'm open to the argument.
“I'm open to the debate and that's why I think this Citizens’ Assembly will be interesting and important that we need to hear all sides here."
The Government recently announced the establishment of a Citizens' Assembly on Drugs Use.
It will be tasked with examining and making recommendations on the legislative, policy, and operational changes the State could make to significantly reduce the harmful impacts of illicit drugs on individuals, families, communities, and wider society.