Roll up, roll up: capitalism will drive cannabis legalisation in Ireland

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Roll up, roll up: capitalism will drive cannabis legalisation in Ireland

It is inevitable that cannabis will be legalised in Ireland in the coming years. It may take five years or even longer for the prohibition to be fully lifted but it is an utter fallacy to suggest this country will resist the inexorable trend that has taken hold in the United States, Canada, Spain and other western countries.

Legalisation is coming, no matter what Irish policymakers may say about the prospect now.

Doctors and campaigners and those who work in criminal justice will argue it out. But they are not the only ones driving the agenda. Once blue-chip international capital begins swirling around an issue – and this has already begun here – the die is basically cast.

That’s a grubby truism, but a truth nonetheless. Companies lobby, they fund major studies to sway opinion, they promise jobs and taxes.

Cannabis is already fully legal for all types of use in Canada. It is a burgeoning industry there funded by Wall Street investors such as Blackrock, Vanguard Group and Morgan Stanley. It is legal for, wink wink, medicinal use in about 33 US states, and recreational use in 11, including big hitters such as California and Illinois. The US is the biggest honey pot for cannabis capitalists.

Cannabis is the next-best thing to legal in Portugal; it’s legal in private in Spain, once you don’t annoy people in public; possession is decriminalised or consumption is effectively tolerated in private in countries such as Israel, the Netherlands, parts of Australia, Austria, and much of Latin America.

New Zealanders will vote on making it legal next year. So it is obvious where global opinion is moving.

Despite the health risks and the fallacious “gateway drug” debate, more solid civil liberties arguments are winning out in country after country. This trend will continue because there are few compelling arguments to reverse it. There are many good arguments for why people should not smoke cannabis or why they should consume it rarely. But they are weak arguments for maintaining legal prohibition in free societies.

Global legal weed sales last year were about $12.2 billion. Analysts at Jeffries say it will be $50 billion by 2029. One Bank of America analyst thinks it could reach $166 billion. The green economy is on its way, so Ireland may as well get ready.

The Government has given the green light to a limited medicinal cannabis programme, but this is a sideshow. Despite what pro-legalisation campaigners might suggest, there is little hard scientific evidence that cannabis is a miracle plant.

Anecdotal evidence suggests it can help some people who are ill. But let us be honest: cannabis is primarily a consumer product, like alcohol. That is how international capital sees it, so it is a fair bet to assume that most laws will eventually reflect this.

Full story is available here.