Students in NUI Galway are calling on university student bodies across Ireland to follow their example and hold referenda to support the legalisation of cannabis, thereby creating a momentum that will encourage politicians to “seriously rethink” the State’s laws on the drug.
The NUIG Students’ Union became the first such student body in Europe to publicly support the legalisation of cannabis following a referendum on campus on Thursday. Students voted in favour of the SU supporting the legalisation and regulation of the cultivation, sale, and possession of cannabis for adults age 18 and over. From a total valid poll was 2,634, 1,796 students voted Yes (68 per cent ) with 838 voting No (32 per cent ).
The Yes campaign was supported by Students for Sensible Drug Policy Society, the Misneach Society, the Socialist Society, and the NUIG Sinn Féin Cumann. Ciarán Maher of the SSDP Soc welcomed the result.
“The students at NUI Galway have made a strong statement,” he said, “against the current system of handling cannabis in Ireland, which allows this very profitable industry to be controlled by criminal gangs, and in support of a more sensible and evidence based approach towards handing cannabis.”
Mr Maher says he hopes the result will encourage politicians to “seriously rethink” the laws and that the referendum will encourage students in other universities “to push for similar referendum campaigns”. “The success of legalisation in Colorado,” said Mr Maher, “has been evidence of just how much taking cannabis out of the hands of criminal gangs, and into the legitimate economy, can have massive benefits for society”.