Time to clear the air on cannabis
Users believe cannabis – most popular with higher socioeconomic groups – is now socially acceptable, and most people would like it legalised for medicinal use. But should it be?
Colin Bolger, who is 26, has been unemployed for three years, and is a regular cannabis user who believes it should be made legal. He says that he has noticed how much more accepting society has become of the drug in recent years.
Bolger lives in a small town in Co Tipperary and knows many cannabis users in his area. Those for whom it creates difficulties may have underlying issues and should probably steer away from the drug, he believes. “If people are smoking it because they are feeling bad or in a bad place, it is not a miracle worker. If you are not okay mentally then smoking cannabis is not good for you,” he says.
The drawbacks for him are cost (regular users can spend upwards of €150 a week) and also ensuring he is not caught with the drug by gardaí.
One former user is 21-year-old graduate Lorcan Murray, who decided to give up cannabis a month ago to concentrate on sports. Murray says he never met a single person against the drug in college, where he found cannabis was very accepted. He warns, though, that the full picture in relation to cannabis is not always told.
“I know people who are long-term unemployed and all they do is smoke weed and they fall into that pit. Nobody is out there telling the truth about cannabis,” he says. “I don’t hear many on the pro-cannabis side calling for moderation. I first smoked it when I was 16 years old and I was smoking heavily by the time I was 19. I see 16-year-olds smoking a lot now and they don’t realise their bodies and minds are still developing.”
Murray says the perception is that the drug is not addictive but that this is not necessarily accurate. “I have learned that because I really had to pull it together to make it out of college. The other side of it is that there are no jobs at present. For some people I know they see it as the only way of making a bit of money, buying large amounts and selling it off in bits and then saving a bit for their own use.”
While Murray says he may return to the drug, he thinks society needs to have a more candid debate about the drug before legalisation is considered. “Nobody is out there telling the truth about cannabis. One side is saying it is a bad thing and you should never touch it. The other side is saying don’t worry as it is not that bad.”