Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Irish Legislature (Oireachtas) Urged to Reform Drug Policy

Response to Public Comment Request by The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defense and Equality

July 27, 2015

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Committee:

My name is Robert Kane and I am writing this letter with the hope of effecting a change in the national drug policy of Ireland. As a citizen of both the United States of America and Ireland, it is an honor to address such an important issue.

My college years in the 1970s and 1980s were, like those of many young people, a time of experimentation with drugs and alcohol. It was only thanks to the discretion and compassion of a law enforcement officer, that I did not incur an arrest record for a small amount of cannabis.

As a parent, I feel that my ability to openly discuss drug-related issues with our children helps to keep our family close knit and well adjusted. It is unrealistic to expect that my kids abstain completely
from the use of drugs and/or alcohol as they grow older. I believe (as does my wife) that a harm reduction approach is what works best in our home. The last several decades have shown that the global “War on Drugs” cannot be won, and that the casualties include countless broken families left to struggle when a family member goes to jail for a drug related offence. Under current U.S. laws, even a small amount of cannabis can, in some states, result in lengthy prison terms and costs of $10,000.00 or more in legal fees. This is unacceptable.

Ireland has the opportunity to serve as a leader in drug policy reform. It is the moral imperative of any legislative body to preserve the integrity of the family unit, as this is the foundation of a healthy modern society.

The world is growing weary of the mass incarceration of those convicted of victimless crimes and non violent drug offences. Our prison population (in the U.S.) has quadrupled since the 1980’s; largely due to excessive mandatory minimum sentences.

I propose that Ireland adopt a policy similar to the Portuguese Decriminalization Model. Portugal should not be the only place where an E.U. citizen can go to live and not have to worry that they might be incarcerated for possession of a personal amount of any drug. I urge legislators in Ireland to adopt steering and oversight committees which could expand on the Portugal Model in several positive ways.

Bearing in mind the fact that drug use will likely not rise upon decriminalization, the Government of Ireland can and should take the progressive step of allowing addicts to legally procure prescriptions from doctors; and safe access centers be created with social workers, mental health and medical staff on hand for the usage of controlled substances. The goal would be to assist the addict through counseling, education, rehabilitation and ultimately re-introduction into society as part of a productive workforce. This concept could potentially reduce petty thefts and other crimes addicts commit to fund their habits; thereby enabling law enforcement to focus efforts on white collar and violent crime. If the government controlled the supply of hard drugs, these substances could then be closely regulated and dispensed via medical professionals. This approach would insure that quality and purity of various substances are held to pharmaceutical industry standards and are free of unwanted adulterants; while effectively displacing the criminal syndicates which now supply the demand. Cannabis should be legalized for personal use with regulations and taxation implemented. The revenue generated could be used for education similar to the U.S. State of Colorado.
While many countries are undergoing a paradigm shift on this topic, the timing seems right for Ireland to transform its drug policy and become the standard to which other nations will aspire to replicate. The potential for medical and psychological clinical research is virtually unlimited once restrictions are eased. Studies presently underway in Israel, the Beckley Foundation in the U.K. and elsewhere show exciting promise with such diseases as Alzheimer’s, many cancers, digestive disorders and depression among others. Cannabis shows promise of alleviating opioid dependence and certain cancers. Easing restrictions on medical and clinical research of previously banned substances could pave the way for universities and corporations to develop new treatments and improve the public’s overall quality of life. This would involve U.N. restrictions to be relaxed, which may be plausible in the near future as evidence mounts in favor of decriminalization.

In summation, it is time for a change in our collective attitudes from that of a punitive culture of judgment, where those with illness and addictions are treated as criminals, to one of compassion and acceptance. When the mystique and allure is stripped from the drug, people may find that moderation is and always will be the key to a healthy and balanced life.


Robert G. Kane
Ocean View, New Jersey


  1. Written submissions should be sent electronically by email (MS Word or equivalent) and should be received not later than 3pm on Friday 7th August 2015 at the following email address only: drugsreview@oireachtas.ie
    More at:

  2. As the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, an international organization of 150,000 law enforcement professionals and supporters who have served on the front lines of the war on drugs and now advocate for its end, I agree 100% with the author, Robert Kane. Solving the issue of drug abuse is first and foremost a public health matter; therefore, we should not be attempting to solve it with criminal justice solutions. Regulation and control of drugs will pave the way for much needed research, defund violent criminal gangs and return police to the business of solving violent crime, which has been somewhat abandoned since we began the war on drugs in 1972.



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  5. It is the moral imperative of any legislative body to preserve the integrity of the family unit, as this is the foundation of a healthy modern society.
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  6. Irish Momentum On Cannabis Increases http://420intel.com/articles/2015/09/08/irish-momentum-cannabis-increases?utm_source=420+Intel+-+Marijuana+Industry+News&utm_campaign=257ec95351-420+Intel&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_3210cbef52-257ec95351-267635361

  7. Relax laws on possession of drugs, urges Dáil committee
    The Oireachtas Justice Committee is preparing to recommend the Government decriminalise the possession of small amounts of all drugs in a bid to alleviate pressure on garda resources and the courts from low level crime.

    The committee - chaired by Fine Gael TD David Stanton - is expected to urge the Government to introduce drugs laws similar to those in Portugal. There possession of certain quantities of all illegal drugs - including cannabis, cocaine, and heroin - is no longer a crime. Read more at:


  8. Ireland to 'decriminalise' small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine and cannabis, for personal use