Ireland has been in the headlines recently and congratulations have been pouring in to Minister of State for the National Drugs Strategy Aodhán O Ríordáin for his progressive decision to decriminalize cannabis (as well as heroin and cocaine). Despite these reports, the real answer to whether Ireland is decriminalizing cannabis is a resounding and disappointing "no".
I had the opportunity to address the Minister at the time this story was being circulated and was dismayed to learn that not only did the Minister think cannabis was a harmful drug with no medical uses, he also informed the crowd that there are no politicians currently within the Irish government that support cannabis decriminalization or legalization. The truth is the Minister aspires to tackle heroin addiction in Irish inner cities by setting up supervised injection centers. He also seeks to "decriminalize the individual" by changing how we look at addiction: seeing it as a health issue rather than a criminal one.
The only conclusion that can be drawn from the sensationalized headlines by the media both in Ireland and abroad is that they serve to temporarily pacify Irish cannabis supporters and rouse fear and the unleashing of more anti-cannabis propaganda from those who oppose it.
While organizations exist, such as NORML Ireland, who seek to gain recognition for the right of people to peacefully pursue activities relating to cannabis without unwarranted intervention by the authorities, there are also those who adhere to the outdated myths and stigmas attached to cannabis and believe cannabis consumers and growers should be prosecuted. For cannabis decriminalization to become a future possibility in Ireland, education is the first and most vital step.