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Campaigner says weed he left beside garda station hasn't been taken away

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Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

A campaigner who has planted more than 30 cannabis plants around Cork says he's willing to go to prison for his beliefs that the drug should be legalised.

Well-known campaigner Martin Condon has been carrying out acts of "civil disobedience" in Cork in recent weeks by planting cannabis plants at locations around the city, including City Hall and near the Bridewell Garda Station.

While gardai have removed some of the plants, Martin told the Sunday World that others have been left untouched for over two weeks.

"In total, I've planted 32 in the last few weeks. There's still some of them down there. The ones on the Shannon footbridge and the ones at the Bodega close to the Bridewell Garda Station are still there."

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Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Martin said he has contacted gardai to tell them he planted the cannabis plants but he has not been arrested over the protest.

"They've taken my number and said the investigating garda will be in contact with me - but I've yet to receive any contact."

He said he expects he will be charged at some stage in the future.

"I definitely think something will come in a couple of months' time. I'd say what's going on at the moment with the investigation is that the plants are with Forensic Science Ireland who are backlogged with work.

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Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre.
Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Cannabis campaigner Martin Condon pictured planting a cannabis plant in Cork city centre. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

"I reckon that's where the plants have gone for testing to confirm they're cannabis and once they confirm that then they will probably proceed with the DPP at that stage."

He said he wasn't worried about potential prosecution.

"I'm not really worried. I'm protesting in what I'm doing and we should never be afraid to protest, especially peaceful protest. Nobody is getting hurt in all of this. I'm highlighting a silly law.

"My position on this is I am willing to go to prison for my beliefs if needed. There is a lot more harm being done to our society by the prohibition of drugs than being done by my actions.

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"My actions are trying to highlight the suffering caused by the prohibition of cannabis to the patients who need access to it and also people like myself who have been criminalised in the past over it."

He highlighted the recent case of Evelyn Corrigan, who was acquitted of having cannabis for sale or supply after growing a plant in her Dublin home.

The 68-year-old from Tallaght, who is legally blind, said she never sold any of it and grew it for personal use because she has glaucoma and emphysema, and had been making extract from it to treat her pain.

A jury found Ms Corrigan not guilty of having drugs for sale or supply and Judge Pauline Codd dismissed a simple possession charge under the Probation Act.

Martin, who has been convicted in the past for cannabis possession, hopes if he is prosecuted again a judge will understand why he is doing what he is doing.

"Hopefully they might be able to see sense in what I'm doing here as well by carrying out these actions. If I'm to be successful in my campaign, women like Evelyn Corrigan will no longer be seen as criminals for growing a plant to have a better quality of life which is effectively what she was doing. She was growing a plant to be a bit more pain-free.

"We see people who are growing their own cannabis coming before the courts and they're being done for sale or supply when quite often that's not the case. Three or four cannabis plants are for personal consumption."

He said forcing consumers of cannabis to deal with criminals puts them in more danger.

Martin is organising a protest against the prohibition of cannabis near the skate park on Mardyke Walk in Cork from 2pm next Saturday and said he expects a large crowd at the event.

"We'll probably be at capacity. There seems to be a lot of interest in the campaign and protest. I will be making every effort to control the crowd, to ensure social distancing and make it a safe and fun day out for everybody."

Protestors fled in terror at a similar event last year after over 20 gardai arrived up to the protest and cleared the area.

"I compared it to an entrance the A-Team would have made. All they were short of was the theme music, coming in the way they did. Once they showed up there were no real problems. It was quite intimidating seeing the gardai showing up to a peaceful protest in the way they did."

Martin said having so many gardai present was a waste of resources.

"I'm sure there were a hundred other things the gardai could have been doing, there were seven vehicles coming down and over 20 gardai showing up on the day."

He said criminalising cannabis users wastes numerous State resources by taking up garda time, court time and forensic workers' time.

"The guards are stuck in a tough place. Some of them know that what they're doing is a waste of time but they have to do their job.

"I'd like to change how cannabis is currently presented in our society. It's ubiquitous, it's everywhere. I'd like to see it changed from being in the underworld, the black market, to being in an legitimate market where jobs are created, taxes are paid and all the revenue sources are generated rather than going into the pockets of the organised crime gangs."

Martin said the streets would be safer as it would free up garda time to police other issues.

"I do believe by ending cannabis prohibition we would free up an awful lot of the guards' time, the courts' time and it would stop the oppression of some very nice people in our community who are treated like criminals for the simple act of consuming a herb."

He said if cannabis was legalised similar legislation already used for alcohol could be applied.

"I think if you wanted to set up production for sale and supply you would require a licence but if you'd like to be a hobbyist I don't see why they would require a licence as that's not currently required for people who brew their own beer or make wine at home."

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