Cannabis planted near Cork Garda station in protest at continued ban

Activist is calling for drug decriminalisation and regulated safe access
Cannabis planted near Cork Garda station in protest at continued ban

Just this week, Mexico's supreme court decriminalised recreational use of cannabis. Picture: Getty

Cannabis has been planted near a Garda station in Cork city centre in protest at the continued ban on the substance in Ireland.

Cannabis rights campaigner Martin Condon posted a video to his YouTube channel, Martin’s World, which shows him planting six cannabis plants in plant boxes by Shandon Bridge at the end of Cornmarket St.

He labelled the plants 'bring Alicia Home' and 'Call Vera' after two of Cork's most prominent cannabis rights campaigners.

Alicia Maher moved to Spain to access affordable medical cannabis which she found was the only medication that helped her following multiple surgeries. 

Once bed-bound and in severe pain, she is now writing a PhD in law.

Vera Twomey has been campaigning for access to medical cannabis for her severely epileptic daughter Ava.

Cannabis saved her daughter's life, Ms Twomey said, and is the only substance she has found which can control her daughter's seizures.

Despite the introduction of the Government's medical cannabis access programme, Bedrocan, the medication Ava and other epileptic children have been getting from Holland for many years is not included on the list of sanctioned medications.

“Here in Ireland there’s still a lot of suffering caused by the prohibition of cannabis," Mr Condon said.

"Patients here in Ireland are still at the mercy of drug dealers who are not required to maintain a minimum standard of quality. 

"The growing of the cannabis plant should not be a criminal matter and patients should have fair and effective access to cannabis as a medicine.

"That’s why I’m out, staging a little civil disobedience for these patients."

Journey into activism

Mr Condon's journey into activism began when he was caught with cannabis by gardaí age 17.

He said that the drug had been very positive for him personally, calming him down and making him more thoughtful.

But his interaction with the criminal justice system felt like a 'breach of his sovereignty as a person' but no deterrent to using cannabis.

"I felt it was an injustice.

I grew up around the Glen and Cork’s northside. I would have fit a certain social demographic and because of being caught with cannabis that one time, I was always targeted afterwards. 

From the age 17 to 20, I was stopped and searched by the gardaí close to 100 times. It was very degrading."

He said that similar early arrests of friends for small quantities of drugs led them down a path towards further criminality because they already felt "lesser" in the eyes of the law and society.  

Now 31, Mr Condon established his YouTube channel to highlight the shortcomings of drug policy.

He wants to see drug decriminalisation and regulated safe access.

And he believes that attitudes towards drug policy are belatedly changing.

Just this week, Mexico's supreme court decriminalised recreational use of cannabis.

An earlier ruling found criminalising the substance unconstitutional.

"Drug use itself should not be regarded as a criminal behaviour. Doing so is counterproductive to helping people who might befall harm from drugs," he said.

"I have two kids myself and a third on the way and I really hope to make society a bit safer for them," he said.

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