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Free vote on cannabis legislation secured by Independent Alliance

Free vote on cannabis legislation secured by Independent Alliance

THE Independent Alliance has sought a free vote on legislation which allows people who have been convicted of cannabis possession to become licenced suppliers of the drug if it is legalised for medicinal use.

Transport Minister Shane Ross secured a free vote at today’s Cabinet meeting which will allow the Alliance vote with their conscience on a private members bill legalising the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

However, there is concern within the Alliance over a section of the bill which allows people become registered sellers of cannabis even if they were previously convicted of possession of the drug.

“Nothing in this section shall disqualify a person from being granted a licence under this Act, or continuing to hold a licence granted under this Act, solely on the ground that he or she has been convicted of being in possession of cannabis,” the bill states.

The Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016 was drafted by Anti-Austerity Alliance People Before Profit Gino Kenny.

Mr Kenny, who is a Dublin Mid-West TD, said possession of a small amount of cannabis should not restrict someone from becoming a licenced supplier of the drug.

“If someone was found with €50 worth grass in the past it shouldn’t stop them from becoming a licence seller in the future,” he told Independent.ie.

The legislation is aimed at ensuring patients, who can benefit from the use of cannabis to treat their conditions, can access legal and quality protected supply of the drug.

The Independent Alliance is waiting to hear the Dail debate on the bill this Thursday before deciding whether or not to take a collective stance on the legislation.

Fianna Fail is willing to allow the legislation pass to committee stage but the party has a number of concerns with the bill.

Health Minister Simon Harris is understood to have serious issues with the bill but is in ongoing discussion with Mr Kenny about the legislation.

A vote on the proposed new law will be held next week.

Philip Ryan