Elaine Byrne: We need an honest debate on whether banning cannabis is more harmful than legalising it

The war on drugs has been a spectacular and costly failure, and it’s time to face reality instead of continuing our usual approach of ‘blissful ignorance’

Workers inspect cannabis plants growing inside a shipping container grow pod at the Delta 9 Cannabis Inc facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada, where recreational cannabis use has been legalised. Picture: Trevor Hagan/Bloomberg

In 2018, recreational cannabis use was legalised in Canada in a move that decriminalised both its cultivation and consumption. The country was also ahead of the curve when it came to regulating access to cannabis for medical purposes, doing so two decades ago.

Ireland, meanwhile, enacted legislation in 2019 for a “medical access programme”. Cannabis can now be accessed with a prescription for those with multiple sclerosis, vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and treatment-resistant epilepsy.

Apart ...