CampaignNewsNews Update

Our Submission to The Citizens’ Assembly on Drug Use

By 29th June 2023 January 11th, 2024 No Comments


Earlier this year a Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use was established to consider the legislative process, policy, and operational changes Ireland could make to significantly reduce the harmful impacts of illicit drugs on individuals, families, communities, and wider Irish society. [1]

Uplift welcomed the opportunity to engage in the process of helping shape a new shared vision and input toward a new strategy for drug use, particularly Cannabis, in Ireland.

Uplift Cannabis campaign

Uplift members have indicated for many years that they want Uplift to campaign to legalise Cannabis. [2] 

In preparation for this submission, Uplift members were given the opportunity to add their names. Over a period of one week, almost 900 people added their names to our submission – an indication that there is significant interest in this particular subject within our community. [3]

More than 20,000 of us have signed a petition set up by Uplift member, Roderick, asking that the government promote non-partisan legislation to legalise and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. You too can add your name to the petition to Legalise Cannabis in Ireland:

Legalise Cannabis in Ireland petition

Uplift members commissioned economic think tank TASC to research the benefits of the legalisation of Cannabis. They’ve found that if done right, we could create community wealth, fund local services, create jobs, and improve our health. Read the report:

TASC: Uplift Cannabis Report

Today in Ireland, people are punished for growing and using a plant that has real potential to transform our communities in lots of positive ways; from improving the health of people with chronic illnesses to providing jobs and supporting farmers.  

That’s why Uplift and TASC researched just what Cannabis could do for our communities. Read about our Different Kinds of Green New Deal and our people-powered campaign to legalise cannabis:

A different kind of green new deal

Uplift members have a long track record in campaigning to conserve nature, protecting our environment as well as people’s health. Together we’re helping bees, protecting Ireland’s oldest oak trees, and limiting the spraying of poisonous chemicals. And we’ve fought hard to ban fracking, and excessive hedge cutting and stop plastic pollution. Our campaign to legalise Cannabis is another way of ensuring a future for communities is healthy and sustainable. [4]

At a special event, hundreds of Uplift members came together to make a plan to legalise cannabis – and it’s very exciting. We poured through the research we commissioned and heard from campaigners and experts alike backing the call for legalisation of cannabis in Ireland.

Watch the event video here

The Submission

To: The Citizens Assembly on Drug Use in Ireland

  • Criminalisation of drug users and the communities they belong to puts people’s health at risk.
  • The only people benefitting from a zero-tolerance approach to cannabis are violent gangs and international drug cartels. Decriminalisation would help to break cycles of poverty and marginalisation.
  • Addiction is real and needs to be addressed with care and compassion. However, all drug use should not be equated with addiction. The biggest form of addiction in Ireland is alcohol, yet the use of alcohol and tobacco is entirely normalised.
  • The focus on illicit drug use masks the deep structural inequalities facing many communities. As a consequence there is much less focus on the effects of poverty, the need for quality universal public services, youth and community work and meaningful education and employment.

In 2021 Uplift commissioned economic think tank TASC to examine the social, environmental, and economic opportunities presented by changing the legal status of cannabis in Ireland. Here is a summary of the main findings from this research: [5]

Social Considerations

  • There is conclusive evidence that cannabis is less dangerous in terms of public health than the legalised drugs alcohol and tobacco.
  • There is conclusive evidence of the health benefits of cannabis in the treatment of chronic pain, multiple sclerosis spasticity symptoms and multiple other conditions.
  • A small increase in the risk of psychosis or schizophrenia from the use of cannabis, especially daily use, along with the effects of smoking, are areas of concern.
  • The social toll of criminalisation is significant, particularly in low-income communities: – stigmatisation, debt, lost employment opportunities and poverty stemming from convictions.
  • Criminalisation can start at a young age and can result in lifelong challenges for individuals – accessing jobs, and accommodation.
  • Misconceptions about cannabis, such as the reputation of cannabis as a “gateway” drug have never been fully substantiated by research.

Environmental Considerations

  • Hemp is a frontrunner to provide a “nature-based solution” to the climate crisis. One hectare of industrial hemp can absorb 15 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year.

Economic Considerations

  • Prohibition Partners, estimate that, by 2028, the market for medicinal cannabis in Ireland could be €1 billion.
  • Ireland has a similar population to Colorado, which legalised cannabis use in 2014. The tax in Colorado is 15% – significantly below the VAT rate in Ireland – so Irish cannabis tax returns could be over $325 million in tax revenue and fees collected in Colorado yearly.
  • Ireland is seen as an attractive location for cannabis production companies. In the past decade, a number of US companies have expressed an interest in entering the Irish market.

Read the full Uplift and TASC research report here.

Uplift is a people-powered community in Ireland that coordinates and enables people in all parts of Ireland to take action for progressive change and for an Ireland we can all be proud of. Please visit our website to see more about how we work

We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the future of Ireland’s drug policies which we hope will significantly reduce the harmful impacts of drugs on individuals, families, communities and wider Irish society, as well as benefit rural communities and people’s health. As a group of people who have campaigned for many years on these issues, we are grateful to have a space where we can have our say.

To find out more about how you can support this campaign check out MyUplift Cannabis Campaigns


[1] Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Us |

[2] Results of our Member Survey 2023 – Uplift – People Powered Change |

[3] Our say on citizens assembly drug use |

[4] Legalise Cannabis in Ireland petitio |

[5] TASC: Uplift Cannabis Report

Skip to content