The number of people in Ireland who were issued a summons or charged with cannabis possession fell nearly 50% following reforms that allow for possession to be dealt with by way of caution, rather than prosecution, the Irish Times reports. According to the Garda Press Office, by December 14, 2021, 5,957 people were issued a summons or charged with simple possession in Ireland, down from 11,127 in 2020, and 9,923 in 2019.
Figures from the Garda from last year report that as of December 14, there were 60 charges related to the cultivation of cannabis or poppy plants — which are used in opium production — a decline from 178 the previous year. There were 1,283 charges or summonses for possession of drugs for sale issued in 2021, compared to 1,968 in 2020, according to Garda data outlined by the Times.
The reforms were enacted in December 2020 and only covers simple possession of cannabis flower or concentrates. The program is operated by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Ireland legalized cannabis for medical use in 2020, and the first product allowed under the program – CannEpil, an oral-based solution intended for drug-resistant epilepsy – was introduced last October, according to the Times.
When Irish Health Minister Simon Harris last year announced the five-year medical cannabis pilot program he indicated there were “no plans” to legalize cannabis in the nation.
In December, Malta became the first European Union nation to fully legalize cannabis. Lawmakers in Germany, Luxembourg, and Switzerland are considering their own reforms, while Italy is expected to hold a referendum on the issue.
Get daily cannabis business news updates. Subscribe