'Prohibition does not work' - Blindboy Boatclub on legalising cannabis

Cannabis should be legalised and taxed here, with the taxes being used to fund mental health serv...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.53 4 May 2021

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'Prohibition does not work' - Blindboy Boatclub on legalising cannabis

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.53 4 May 2021

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Cannabis should be legalised and taxed here, with the taxes being used to fund mental health services.

That is according to presenter and podcaster Blindboy Boatclub, who was responding to a new report on cannabis use.

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland warned that cannabis represents the "gravest threat to the mental health of young people in Ireland today."


In the report, the college warned that the number of young people hospitalised with a cannabis-related disorder has jumped 300% in the past 10 to 15 years.

The report also found that young cannabis users are three to four-times more likely to develop psychotic-type disorders.

But Blindboy told The Hard Shoulder that prohibition of the drug is not effective.

"What I want to come on and I want to speak about today is I want to argue against prohibition.

"A lot of the problem I see that is being created in this country around cannabis: these problems exist because of prohibition.

"Cannabis contains two chemicals: THC and CBD.

"When I was a teenager in the early 2000s there was no weed, it was hash - and then hash suddenly disappeared.

"I found out hash disappeared because of the US war on terror: a lot of hashish was coming from Morocco and Afghanistan.

"And then the US found that some of this money was being used to fund jihadists, so they cracked down on that.

"So it created a huge drought for hash - now the thing with hash [is] hash had a balance of THC and CBD.

"THC is the chemical that makes you really high, and then CBD has been shown in studies to protect the brain.

"So cannabis in its natural state contains a balance of THC and CBD."

Growing cannabis

But he said that balance was thrown when the drug was grown in growhouses in Ireland, other parts of Europe and elsewhere.

"These growers started making more and more potent cannabis that only contains really high levels of THC.

"So when you purchase cannabis illegally in Ireland, or in any country where it's illegal, you don't have any choice.

"There's only one weed available in Ireland, and that's 'Do you want it or not?'".

He suggested: "If you're anti-cannabis in Ireland, what you should realise is if you're being anti-cannabis you're anti-safe cannabis."

And he said the solution is legislation, which could also help fund health services.

"Here's what I'd like to see: fully legalise it, regulate it - like in Canada - and tax it.

"And then use [the tax] - you're not only creating an industry with huge employment - use the taxes to fund our mental health services."

Abusing cannabis

He said there is more to cannabis use than just headline figures.

"The thing is too to remember with adults and cannabis use: a lot of this refers to people who are abusing cannabis.

"It's not necessarily referring to people who are occasionally using."

Referring to himself as an example, he said: "I love having a couple of cans at the weekend, I have a healthy relationship with a couple of cans at the weekend.

"I find it enjoyable, I put up with a hangover on the Sunday, it's fine.

"However, since the pandemic, when I drink cans at the weekend it actually makes me feel a bit more upset and depressed.

"So now I practically don't drink anymore: what I've done there is I've used my emotional awareness to change my relationship with a substance - so now I don't drink anymore.

"People who abuse substances, now that can be anything - alcohol, cannabis, video games, gambling - often people who abuse a substance, they're actually engaging in a type of self-medication.

"They're self-medicating for something.

"So wouldn't it better of they didn't have to, because the services for addiction and mental health were stronger and more robust?"

'Biggest threat to mental health'

And he said he disagrees with the College of Psychiatrists assessment.

"I would say the biggest threat to mental health in this country is lack of access to services, the housing crisis, the rent crisis.

"That - for me, as someone who speaks about mental health on my podcast, and who gets contacted by quite a lot of people.

"When you start saying 'cannabis is the thing to focus on' it distracts a lot from huge, structural issues such as lack of access to mental health services.

"And I can say that myself, as someone who has tried to access mental health services."

He said he is not 'pro-cannabis' and that "I don't believe in telling adults, or suggesting to adults what to do."

But he said that while the report looks at the impact of cannabis on children and teenagers, "children and teenagers should not be using any substance at all - simple as that".

'Prohibition does not work' - Blindboy Boatclub on legalising cannabis

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Main image: Blindboy Boatclub speaking to The Hard Shoulder on Newstalk. Picture by: YouTube/Newstalk

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