Labour senator and former drugs minister Aodhan O Riordain has called for the legalisation of cannabis in Ireland for recreational use in order to "cut the knees from under the drug gangs", writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith.
Speaking at a Saturday morning health session at Labour's annual conference in Wexford this weekend, Mr O Riordain said the move is needed because of the widespread use of the drug across the country.
Comparing the dangers of cannabis use to alcohol use, he said despite the fact at least two people die of alcohol every week, it remains "a legal drug".
While accepting "cannabis is dangerous", he said there are genuine reasons why it should be legalised as the ongoing ban on it is helping drug gangs across the State.
The view was supported by former Labour TD Emmet Stagg, who said "the failure of prohibition has been an absolute failure".
Mr Stagg said "ruthless criminals" are selling cannabis and other drugs "on the back-streets with no regard for the product they provide", and that "standardisation, legislation and quality control" by the Government would address this issue.
However, the motion was opposed by fellow delegate Pat McDaid who said cannabis and other drugs remain a danger, adding jokingly: "It breaks my heart to disagree with Emmet Stagg, and I hope that [disagreeing with him] doesn't become addictive."
The motion to legalise cannabis for recreational use, which was put forward by Labour Youth, will be voted on at 1pm on Saturday.