An Irish MP is part of a ground-breaking cross-party group in Europe that is seeking to legalise personal use of cannabis across the European Union.
On the 14th of July, an open letter to all 705 members of the European Parliament encouraged other MEPs to join the informal group advocating for EU-wide discussion on cannabis. The group consists of Cyrus Ebgerer (Malta), Monica Semedo (Luxemburg), Mikuláš Peksa (Czech Republic), Dorian Roomaker ( Netherlands) and Luke ”Ming” Flanagan ( Ireland). The group said “As members of the European Parliament, we feel that it is our duty to bring to light issues relating to the infringement of personal freedoms of EU citizens. We feel that as parliamentarians, we must be candid and not be afraid to touch upon topics that might be taboo for some, due to misconceptions and misinformation. One such topic is the personal use of cannabis,”
In their Video uploaded to YouTube, the group highlighted the outdated and unpredictable patchwork of legislation that means EU citizens are forced to turn to the black market or imprisoned for small amounts of cannabis for personal use. Mikuláš Peksa said that in his home country of the Czech Republic, people are permitted to grow cannabis, but a few miles across the board and that same action could mean imprisonment. This does not reflect the level of freedom that we as EU citizens have come to expect living in Europe.
Cyprus MEP Cyrus Engerer added “No one should be in prison for a joint. But unfortunately, many citizens across Europe still find themselves in prison just for possession of small amounts of cannabis. While some countries such as Malta are courageous by looking at legalisation to combat the illicit supply, others are still far behind”. Monica Semedo stated that the resources and energy put into cannabis prohibition should be redirected to transparent information, education programmes and harm reduction, adding that cannabis use is one’s own choice and freedom.
Luke “Ming” Flanagan MEP is no stranger to advocating for cannabis reform here in Ireland, in 2001, as part of his campaign of legalising cannabis he mailed a cannabis joint to every TD and Senator. In 2013 he proposed a bill that would allow home cultivation and personal use of cannabis in Ireland which was unsuccessful at the time.