As cannabis legalization efforts continue to gain momentum on the European continent, smaller reforms are also being implemented.
The decriminalization of cannabis is one of these reforms and, fortunately, more European nations are enacting policies to decriminalize cannabis.
Decriminalization may not be as good as absolute legalization, but it is better than putting people in jail.
Ireland is a European country that has decriminalized cannabis in some cases. According to new data, it is a policy that seems to work.
Processing is drastically reduced
Under current law, if someone is caught with a personal quantity of cannabis in Ireland and there is no evidence of illegal sales, the person can receive a fine of € 1,000 instead of jail time.
According to data from the prosecution In Ireland, 11,127 people were prosecuted for cannabis offenses in 2020.
In 2021, that number dropped to 5,957 prosecutions. Unfortunately, crop processing increased from 2019 to 2020 (the most recent data available).
Processes for distributing cannabis in Ireland fell from 1,968 cases in 2020 to 1,283 cases in 2021.
A step towards legalization
Data outside of Ireland on personal possession is great news. That said, it is clear that the situation could improve.
Until the number of prosecutions drops to zero, there is still work to be done for cannabis advocates and activists in Ireland.
Malta recently passed a measure to legalize adult use, and Germany and Luxembourg are expected to do the same in the near future. Italy is likely to vote on a legalization measure this year.
The Netherlands and Switzerland recently launched pilot programs to legalize adult use that include the legal cultivation and sale of cannabis in certain jurisdictions.
Hopefully, all this encourages Ireland to go beyond decriminalization towards full legalization. It is a good public policy for both cannabis users and taxpayers.