Protestors in yellow vests stormed the streets of Dublin over the weekend to rail against the government’s failure to supply patients with medicinal cannabis.
The government agreed to legalize medicinal marijuana back in 2016, but patients are still forced to turn to the black market due to delays in rolling out a legal trade. Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar blames an inability to find a suitable supplier for the delay, although several other European nations have had no trouble in this respect.
The Irish people decided to express their anger during an anti-government march in the capital over the weekend. They demanded three policy changes: a halt in housing evictions, a cap on bedroom rent, and the proper legalization of medicinal cannabis.
Protestors also called for the resignations of Varadkar and health minister Simon Harris, the two men deemed responsible for the failure to roll out a medicinal cannabis market across the country. The protest was described as “recognition of the desire and right of all people to live, work and thrive in a safe modern and dignified manner”.
It takes inspiration from the gilets jaunes movement in France, which has led to rioting in several major cities. It began as a protest against a rise in fuel tax and then morphed into a display of anger at Emmanuel Macron’s leadership. It has since spread to Belgium and Portugal, where protestors in hi-vis vests have vented their fury against policymakers, and now the Irish government has a similar problem to deal with.
Introducing the proper medicinal cannabis industry it promised would be an easy way to appease a large chunk of the demonstrators. Opposition politicians have accused Varadkar and Harris of tying up the legislation in red tape in order to delay it until the next general election in 2021. Harris can give out a license for medicinal cannabis in special circumstances, but protestors say the guidelines are far too strict and that it is all but impossible to actually source marijuana.
But an Irish contingent visited Denmark last month to see how the Scandinavian nation has successfully implemented a medicinal cannabis trade, and it could help quell public anger by following suit.