Letters to the Editor: We need to destigmatise the use of cannabis

'High rent, low wages, and poor job security are far more impactful on young people's mental health than use of cannabis'
Letters to the Editor: We need to destigmatise the use of cannabis

I’m responding to the article Higher-potency cannabis poses ‘gravest threat’ to young people’s mental health (Maresa Fagan, May 4).

As a young person and cannabis user, I find things like high rent, low wages, high cost of living, and poor job security and prospects are far more impactful on my and my friends’ mental health than our cannabis use.

Often we use cannabis to unwind in the evening and forget the negative aspects affecting our lives for a while. The same can be done using alcohol, but the effects take longer to wear off and have a higher likelihood of negative impact.

If we actually care about helping young people better their mental health while also tackling drug issues, then we should legalise and regulate the cultivation, supply, and sale of cannabis so it can only be brought by adults with ID. 

This could then be taxed and ring-fenced to fund better mental health services and other public services. 

On top of that, this move would add an extra income stream for farmers, open a new industry with thousands of jobs, increase our tourist potential, and allow for increased medical and other research, while also striking a blow against organised criminal gangs.

I don’t want to be stigmatised for using cannabis, I don’t want to buy it from the black market, and I don’t want to go to court for being caught with a small amount for personal use. 

I would love to buy cannabis from a legitimate local business who could tell me the exact strength and source of what I am buying.

I completely agree that there should be a review of cannabis usage in Ireland but the ‘Just Say No’ public awareness campaign’s approach to drug use has failed. 

We need to destigmatise cannabis usage to allow more open and honest conversations. Then we will better understand the causes and effects of cannabis usage and can use this knowledge to inform how we deal with cannabis use in the future.


The Lough


Penalising farmers over wildfires

This is an email we have sent to Charlie McConalogue, the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine:

We are writing to you as concerned citizens about the recent and devastating wildfires all over the country. It was absolutely shocking to see a fire so bad in one of our biggest tourist attractions and best known parks, the Killarney National Park.

While some fires may be accidental, we do know that it has become an
annual ritual for farmers to burn scrub and gorse every year at this time. They do this in part because they get penalised for not having their land in grazable condition.

As you know, farmers receive subsidies every year, and one of the conditions farmers need to meet to receive these subsidies is to keep their land in good agricultural and environmental condition (GAEC).

Picture: Valerie O'Sullivan
Picture: Valerie O'Sullivan

The rules have long been criticised as pushing and incentivising farmers into illegal burning in order to clear land of gorse to encourage grass growth for livestock. Scrub protects young trees, allowing woodland to expand. Current land eligibility rules penalise farmers for allowing this.

The Irish Wildlife Trust has called for the immediate suspension of this rule which leads to destruction of our wildlife every year. This year has been particularly devastating, not to mention the costs of deploying our fire services to tackle these fires.

Birdwatch Ireland states that, between 2010 and 2015, the cost to the exchequer of deploying the fire service to tackle over 5,889 gorse, forest, and bog fires in 10 counties amounted to over €6m.

We need GAEC reform now. We need to stop subsidy schemes that penalise farmers who leave space for biodiversity and wildlife. We are calling on the Department of Agriculture to suspend their penalty rules now.

Nuala Martyn, Caitriona Rabbitt,Jenny Fisher, Mary Dillon,



Co Galway

Conservation and politics do not mix

It’s time we took stock of the fact that many of our feathered friends may disappear forever from our lives, and from this country that has played host to them for millennia.

A recent report highlighted that 54 bird species are now on Ireland’s red list, meaning they are deemed to be of “highest conservation concern”, and 79 species have been added to the amber list, denoting “concern for populations”.

You’d think our politicians would be clamouring to do everything possible to stem the decline of affected species. Unfortunately, politics and wildlife conservation don’t go well together. It has to do with votes, and the calculation as to what electoral advantage is to be gleaned from saying you’re “for the birds”. 

Not only have successive governments failed to enact effective measures to protect them, but the law continues to permit the targeting for ‘sport’ of even the most vulnerable bird species.

Teal, gadwall, wigeon, pintail, tufted duck, and greylag goose are amber listed, yet are also listed in the annual open season order for shooting. Snipe were recently raised from amber conservation status to red, with breeding populations in Ireland now in severe decline — but hunters remain free to shoot them for five months of the year.

Red-listed pochard and goldeneye, both of which have experienced severe declines in their wintering populations, can also be shot.

Red-listed red grouse can be shot anywhere in the State for all of September, and red-listed woodcock are fair game from November to January. 

Mallards, whose status has gone from green to amber, also appear on the open season order. You can legally kill them from September 1 to January 31.

What possible justification can there be for allowing these already threatened species to be blasted out of the sky? 

We must lobby TDs of all parties on this issue, and make them aware that the protection of our wonderful wildlife heritage does matter. It belongs to all of us — not just to those whose idea of fun is to turn a graceful avian into a blood-spattered carcass.

Let’s act to preserve what remains of our diminishing bird life before the gunmen finish it off.

John Fitzgerald


Co Kilkenny

Siege mentality is strong in the DUP

Ousting Arlene Foster on foot of her perceived liberal tendencies and lacklustre opposition to the Brexit protocol, is akin to an armoury of aardvarks ganging up on their their herd leader because of a shorter than bespoke snout, or a pack of dinosaurs turning on their leading triceratops because of a slightly shorter neck.

Arlene’s views could hardly have been construed as openly generous, accommodating or conciliatory, yet still she had to go. The DUP continues its sorry stagnation, operating an incessant retro-mode of forlorn siege dynamic, with its dinosauric patterns prevailing in perpetuity.

Jim Cosgrove


Co Waterford

Time to move on and stay home

One of the major changes due to the Covid pandemic was having to work from home. As Victoria, Australia, has had no community cases for at least a month, the government instructed all workers to return to their offices. The problem is that only about 50% have actually returned after almost a month.

Returning to the office would give you a chance to talk with all of your colleagues, whereas working from home would allow you to avoid talking to your colleagues, and the coffee is much better. 

What many organisations have not realised is that the nature of the workplace has changed, and working by video is often quite
effective, and most employees won’t miss the regular meetings, especially the meetings to discuss the meeting schedule.

It’s time to move on and stay at home.

Dennis Fitzgerald



We can’t put a price on value of a pint

The Government’s clampdown on the sale of low-cost alcohol reminds me of one of the many stories my late father told me about the customers who patronised the family pub. The stories were embellished with each telling, but were all the better for it.

Danny arrived at the bar at 8pm every evening. He leisurely drank three pints of Guinness between his arrival and closing time. He enjoyed the company of his fellow drinkers, discussing Austin Stacks football, greyhounds, horse racing, and the news of the day. He then returned home where he lived alone.

There came a time when the price of the pint increased. When my father broke the bad news, the drinkers jocosely called down every misfortune on the powers that be above in Dublin, but the porter continued to flow regardless. 

Making his way to Danny, who was contentedly playing cards by the glowing fire, Dad asked: “Will you still follow the pint at the new price, Danny?”

“My dear man,” he replied, “I’ll follow it to hell. Drinking the juice of the barley in such pleasant company is priceless.”

Danny has long since gone to his eternal rest. Despite his self-condemnation, he is surely in heaven, as he never did anything out of the way. On the evening of Danny’s removal, Dad filled a pint glass with draught Guinness, funnelled it into a bottle, corked the bottle, and wrapped it in a Stacks black and amber sock, and placed it 

alongside Danny’s remains, to quench his thirst on the final journey.

Most drinkers know the price of a pint but, to people like Danny, for whom drinking a pint is a social occasion, its value is inestimable.

Billy Ryle


Co Kerry

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