Garda figures show move towards decriminalization of cannabis as prosecutions halved in 2021

Prosecutions for possession of cannabis for personal use in Ireland have almost halved over the past year, according to figures from An Garda Síochána.

he number of people charged or summoned for simple possession of cannabis until mid-December 2021 has decreased significantly from the previous year, largely due to offenders being given a warning instead of a warning. appearance in court.

The numbers show that Ireland is on a global shift towards drug decriminalization.

Malta made history in mid-December when it became the first country in Europe to allow limited cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal use, following a vote in parliament.

It should be followed by a wave of similar plans across Europe, with Luxembourg due to give the green light to a comparable measure.

Several other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, are also on the verge of adopting a more lenient approach to cannabis possession.

Garda figures show 11,127 prosecutions in Ireland for possession of cannabis in 2020, but the figure had fallen to 5,957 for 2021 through the week ending December 14.

Gardaí attributes the main reason for the reduction in prosecution to the addition of possession of cannabis and cannabis resin for personal use to the adult warning program at the end of 2020.

Caution is administered in a guard station where there is evidence of the commission of an intended criminal offense and prosecution of the offense is not required in the public interest.

New figures also reveal number of prosecutions for cultivation of cannabis plants or opium poppy in Ireland fell from 197 in 2019 to 310 in 2020. Prosecutions for the sale and supply of cannabis in Ireland fell from 1,968 cases in 2020 to 1,283 in mid-December 2021.

Prosecutions for importing or exporting cannabis in Ireland peaked at 16 in 2020, while there were less than 10 incidents relating to 2021.

Uruguay was the first country in the world to legalize the production and sale of marijuana, while it is legal for recreational use in many states in the United States.

Cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Europe and the world, according to the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

In its most recent report this year, the European Union agency said regulatory responses are also becoming more variable and complicated, as several countries allow the availability of cannabis products under certain circumstances for therapeutic purposes. , and some suggest the tolerance of certain forms of recreational consumption. .

“While most health and social issues remain focused on illicit cannabis use, it becomes a more complex area in terms of definition and response,” he said.

The report states that cannabis use can lead to or worsen a range of physical and mental health, social and economic problems. He said cannabis use is highest among young adults and the age of first cannabis use is lower than most other illicit drugs.

It is estimated that around 16 million young Europeans between the ages of 15 and 34, or around 15% of this age group, have used cannabis in the past year, with the figure rising to around 20% in the age group. ages 15 to 24.

He pointed out that cannabis use is often experimental, usually lasting only a short period in early adulthood.

But the report added that a minority of people develop more persistent and problematic consumption patterns, with these problems associated with regular, long-term, high-dose cannabis use.

These issues can include poor physical health, such as chronic respiratory symptoms, and mental health issues such as cannabis addiction and psychotic symptoms.

Social and economic problems were also mentioned due to poor school performance, failure to complete education, decreased performance at work or involvement in the criminal justice system.

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