By Roland Sebestyén
Belfast’s Lord Mayor has announced that she would support the legalisation of cannabis as well as plans for the introduction of safe dug consumption sites for those addicted to drugs.
In December, Belfast mayor Kate Nicholl, 33, stated in an interview that she would welcome a change in the country’s drug policy as the dealers are now on the streets minding their business very openly.
Ms Nicholl also revealed that her mother was a “hippie” and she was told about the “graphic details of a really bad acid trip” in the past.
The Lord Mayor, who will be standing as a candidate in this year’s local elections, has spoken of her view that prohibition isn’t an effective solution and that people with serious drug problems should be given the appropriate assistance.
She said: “There’s something about having like a reprobate mother that makes you incredibly square.
“I think it (cannabis) should be legalised. I don’t think criminalising deals with the issues. We’re looking at the legalities around it. It’s very open, the drug dealing is now on the streets.
“If you have a space where there are brilliant relationships with people and their clients and there was a safe space where they could go and you have these overdoses on the streets and people going into cafes, there’s just an element of humanity.”
As far as the government is concerned, however, cannabis is still a dangerous substance and there is no real hope for reform.
Nonetheless, experts on both sides of the aisle have been working hard to point out that change will be necessary to tackle the injustice and crime around the substance.
In an interview a few weeks ago, Crispin Blunt MP, the Chair of the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group (CDPRG), said the UK “have a drug policy based on prejudice, instinct, and a raft of misinformation.”
He said: “The most important issue when countries and other jurisdictions are facing up to the legalisation question is how you legalise: What are the licence conditions? What is taxation? What are the regulations you put behind this?
“Obviously, the critical thing is to put criminals out of business and protect the health of children.
“Only when you’ve got the crooks out of business, can you have the opportunity to protect the children from the psychosis associated with cannabis containing a very heavy dose of THC.”
Meanwhile in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has expressed similar views to those of Belfast’s Mayor Nicholl with regards to policing cannabis.
His proposed pilot scheme, which would essentially decriminalise cannabis possession in three boroughs in the capital for people aged 18-24, has made the headlines over the last few weeks.