From Ming To The Merciless


Johnny Green

It”s 4.20

Pull up stool.

Johnny Green has a story to tell.

Johnny writes:

Once upon a time in the West….

Well actually the year is 1997 and its General Election when Luke Ming Flanagan brought the campaign to legalise cannabis into mainstream politics in Galway East.

Luke adopted the name and look of the character Ming, which for the following decade continued to incite the ‘hey dude’ jaded stoner stereotype.

Luke persisted to openly waft this plume of comic book behaviour with publicity stunts like getting arrested for posting joints to Oireactas members in November 2001;

However, by 2004 Luke was a mainstream politician in Roscommon County Council, by 2010 Luke was Lord Mayor of Roscommon County Council, by 2011 Luke entered Dáil Éireann as a Poll Topping Hero. (Broadsheet readers might be interested to know that he was the only candidate from New Vision) a platform he shared with one John McGuirk no less, to be elected.)

Here is now where our storyline becomes a matter of establishment Ireland; when Luke Flanagan TD, stood up in Leinster house on the first Tuesday in November 2013 and introduced the motion;

“That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to introduce legislation to regulate the cultivation, sale and possession of cannabis and cannabis products in Ireland. “

But the debate that followed promised its result; 112-8 nay:yay; “Not in my Gaff” as the proposer said himself.

There was to be no second reading as the bill lapsed with the dissolution of that Dáil and Luke’s subsequent departure to Brussels.

So all was all quiet throughout the land until 2016. Gino Kenny TD, introduced to you last week, brought his own Private Members Bill to Dáil Éireann.

By that November, the entire country followed and walked with Vera Twomey. Whether they agreed with Gino’s bill or with Luke’s earlier effort, it didn’t matter, every step Vera took was cheered on because she had a cause; and her cause could also be anyone else’s.

Within 24 hours of Vera’s first steps for Ava, Minister Simon Harris said:

’”Today I have announced a policy review in relation to medical cannabis and have asked HPRA to research this. area.”

The Joint Health Committee got their pre-legislative scrutiny underway; barely three weeks since Vera Twomey took the road to Dublin, the Committee Hearing got underway, and days later on the December 1, Gino’s bill was introduced to the Dáil

One calendar month is all it took, from Vera Twomey’s first steps to Gino’s Bill passing unopposed the 1st stage.

By the new year, January 2017: Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) Report was published.

By February, the Money Message element to this Bill entered the debate; since this was never made to the Government and therefore not provided, the Select Committee stage; the Joint Committee on Health Report on Scrutiny of the Cannabis for Medicinal Use Regulation Bill 2016, to give it is full title; balked at further consideration, therefore they rejected the Bill.

The membership of the committee is interesting; it is clear from the report that they were squeamish about the consideration; however, the membership is interesting for the obvious conflicts present; most notably a Pharmacist in retail dispensary and a practicing GP who also chairs the committee.

It was claimed that the Health Committee voted to reject Gino’s Bill on a number of grounds, one being fear over ‘diversion’ or cannabis falling into the wrong hands.

This is the politics of fear, insinuating unsubstantiated dark web style consequences, rather than adjudicating facts and balancing simple pros and cons.

I have been unable to secure any confident information on the vote or votes undertaken by this Committee.  In the absence of the required Money Message to allow the Bill to proceed, the Select Committee rejected the Bill and all but dissolved its terms of reference for the report; so, quite possibly it has not been subjected to further journalistic scrutiny.

That is not my role either, but it is worth asking why Kate O’Connell TD appointed herself as spokesperson for this task when she bears an undeniable conflict of interest; and why her statements have not been interrogated by the opposition or the Media, or even her constituents.

Before we travel further along this timeline, the Money Message requirement deserves to be fully understood.

While it is basically an operating procedure for the Ceann Comhairle and his standing orders rule book; its direction comes straight from S17.2 of the Constitution. It may not have been commonplace until recently as for decades Governments were in a healthy majority position, so it was not generally exercised since they had the numbers to vote Private Members Bills down at the 1st stage.

Simply put, if a private members bill, like Gino Kenny’s, will cause a new expenditure on the Exchequer, and this said item has not been allocated a line item in the most recent Finance Bill, your annual Budget, it has to get a permission slip from the Taoiseach to proceed to 2nd stage, the Select Committee stage.

I am aware that the current Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl is very anxious to halt its use by the current Government as a legislative back line,and has actively sought to address it with the current Taoiseach. Unfortunately, like above, Broadsheet readers will have to stay tuned in to watch this space.

So here we are now up to October last year; Gino Kenny TD asked Minister Simon Harris for an update. This all looks like the Government are now providing for Cannabis for Medicinal Use;  But they have nothing to add beyond the disclaimer.

Then you can hard be surprised that Dr Harty, the chair of the Select Committee that confounded the bill within a trifle of mixed messages, asked Minister Harris when the Money Message would be signed off to allow the Bill to proceed; here was a suburb example of not answering a question without anyone noticing.

Yet, since the Health Committee produced its report and that Minister’s question, a budget has been introduced by this Government and voted on by the Dáil.

So why didn’t Gino Kenny, and the Bill’s co-sponsor Bríd Smith lobby for it to be included in Budget 2019? Why hasn’t anyone else?

Or maybe concerned special interests have lobbied to keep it suspended in Money Message purgatory.

So here we are to January 2019, Minister Harris grants a license to import Cannabis.

A recent sitting of the Health Committee which Minister Simon Harris attended heard this from Kate O’Connell:

“I know it has now been halted by the absence of a money message. Eminent psychiatrists, GPs and addiction experts are stating one thing. It would be helpful if Mr. Reid would outline the difference between legalisation, decriminalisation and harm reduction.

I really object to the word “medicinal” being used in respect of cannabis. It is a controlled drug. Until it gains evidence to justify the medicinal name, then we are just dealing with a schedule 1 drug.”

In the meantime, take this stalled Bill up with your local representatives, and figure out a way of getting it into the Health Budget for 2020, and take out the Money Message for good.

Johnny Green will attempt to keep Broadsheet readers up-to-date on the growing cannabis industry worldwide. Follow Johnny on twitter for even more updates.

Illustration by Alan O’Regan


14 thoughts on “From Ming To The Merciless

  1. eoin

    Interesting article Johnny.

    Did you see my reply to you on Sunday, the “vote” at the Committee if there was a formal vote is not recorded in any of the public hearings, it may be in a private hearing and you’ll have to FoI the clerk for that.

    You’re right about Money Messages. Every Bill seems to have *some* impact somewhere on the Exchequer, even if it’s the cost of printing the fupping thing. It’s being absolutely abused by this FG minority government to stop 100 of the 158 TDs in the Dail from doing what they’re supposed to do, act like legislators.

    1. Johnny Green

      Thanks Eoin,will take a look as it’s constantly mentioned that the joint committee had voted to reject the proposed bill,but no record of any voting is available.The govt then rejected the committees recommendations thus avoiding the bill going back Dail for a vote.The level of hypocrisy is breathtaking,with lots sound bites on supporting this but no action or no votes to hold elected reps accountable.

      ‘A medical marijuana bill scheduled for a vote in the Irish lower House of Parliament has moved forward to Ireland’s Health Committee for amendments after last-minute support from two political parties.
      Despite the Health Committee’s recommendation in July 2017 to kill the legislation, two major political parties have since thrown their support behind the medical marijuana bill. This surprising turn of events completely sidestepped the vote altogether and sent the legislation to the Health Committee for amendments to move it ahead in the parliamentary process.‘

      1. eoin

        In my reply to you on Sunday, I linked the Dail debate of the report in late 2017, there is evidence there that the Ceann Comhairle asked for a vote by a show of hands, and that was the end of the Bill. There’s no formal vote in the Dail because the numbers against were so overwhelming, there was no need for a formal count.

        1. Johnny Green

          Hi Eoin,it’s my understanding that after a joint committee recommends rejecting a bill,it goes back for a full vote to the Dail?
          But by rejecting the joint committees recommendations to reject the bill,it advances without a vote to the select committee stage,where a money bill is required.
          In other words the govt supported this bill and moved it forward only to then kill it,in basically a damage limitation way without any votes or debate.
          The absence or lack of a money message has allowed the govt in the public’s eye support this but efficiency kill it with kindness by inaction.

  2. seanydelight

    Regulate and tax… Hate this stupid country sometimes. You can bet its not just Pharma, but LVI and VFI making sure their this never comes to pass.

    1. Johnny Green

      Hi Seán,this is just breathtakingly idiotic and just so stupid,FG’s spokesperson (self appointed) takes to the airwaves and bombards the media with messages like this evoking morality,to defend her committees report rejecting the bill,which would have resulted in a vote.

      ‘In a series of sharp Dail exchanges which saw Kenny accuse O’Connell of being biased, the Fine Gael rep insisted that these flaws mean the proposed bill “is dangerous to the point where it is verging on being immoral”.‘

      The govt then rejects the unanimous ‘voted’ recommendations of this committee!

      1. seanydelight

        Presuming these convicted drug dealers are not in prison or barred from holding a license – what is the harm in them selling it if they are doing so with in regulation and paying tax and creating employment.

        1. Johnny Green

          There is a concept called restorative justice,repairing some the harm and damage caused by right wing reactionaries waging their endless war on drugs,O’Connell must know that most the causalities are poor and disadvantaged,in some ways it’s also a war against the poor.She is completely and totally out of touch,she misread the intentions of FG to support this bill,it was a rookie mistake,compounded by having skin in the game as a pharmacist.

          ‘The policy is similar to marijuana-related expungement laws recently enacted in a number of states, including Colorado, Delaware, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington. California law automatically expunges past marijuana convictions. Late last week, lawmakers in New York State approved legislation establishing procedures for the automatic expungement of past, low-level marijuana convictions. That legislation awaits action from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.‘

      2. Al Bin Man

        The hypocrisy is indeed astonishing

        How many denizens of Kildare st are into coke?

        1. Johnny Green

          Kate A Break- it was a break for Vera to have share intimate and personal details about her daughters suffering a fooking break – she’s completely out of touch needs a long break herself from public office.

          ‘However, there are people who are needlessly suffering and children who are having dozens of seizures daily. I met with Ava’s mother, Vera. When she attended the briefing in the AV room and when she appeared before the health committee I thought of how brave she was and of how somebody who had that in their daily lives would travel up to see us and tell us her story. However, sitting at home last night thinking about it, I thought, “Well, maybe it was a break for her”. Her daily life must be exceptionally challenging. I cannot imagine what it is like to have that on one’s plate every day.‘

          Kate O’Connell embarrassing herself and her party and Ireland here.

  3. Johnny Green

    According Gino-“Announcement tomorrow regarding the commencement of the long awaited Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme In Ireland…“

    Will update this is anything changes.

      1. Johnny Green

        Thanks Eoin,finally some good news for patients,but what did Simon just do,if it’s not medicine did he just legalize and decriminalize weed:)
        Will track down the legislation and try get a summary up next week.

  4. Clampers Outside!

    The ‘Joint’ Health Committee…

    heh-heh, ‘joint’ heh, ‘joint health’, heh-heh, heh, heh-heh, etc :)

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