The push for legalisation of cannabis has gained a huge increase of support across the globe in recent decades. Many different countries have begun to see Cannabis as less of an illicit substance and more of a medicinal and therapeutic cure for illnesses ranging form seizures to MS. Mr. Boccarossa is the founder of Clothing company LCN Éire. He is also an advocate for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use. Boccarossa spoke with The College Tribune on the benefits and pitfalls of cannabis, the war on drugs, and the future of opening up to cannabis legalisation.

Starting The Push

Boccarossa explained to us how in early adulthood, he began experiencing seizures out of the blue. He told us he was diagnosed with epilepsy, but “neurologists and doctors didn’t know what kind. After being prescribed medication such as Epilim and Lacosamide, I soon realised they didn’t reduce the amount of seizures, and they were affecting my mood and sleep, essentially bringing me to the point of not wanting to leave my house.”

After researching alternative methods of treating Epilepsy, Boccarossa went on a 6-week course of edible cannabis treatment. “After 3-4 weeks of self-medication, Seizures completely stopped. Compared to the medication that I was prescribed it was a massive difference.” Since then, Boccarossa has decided to push for legislation, citing the “importance for medical cannabis to be accessible for others.”

The narrative against cannabis and black- market issues

 “Anyone with some form of common sense can see they (the government) have something against cannabis. Emer Higgins, a TD claimed that edible cannabis products were being marketed to children, due to their “Colourful packaging and sweet flavouring.” You look at alcoholic products such as ‘Fat Frog’ and ‘WKD blue’. How can this argument not be applied here?”

“Of course, there are negatives, especially in a black market. With legislation and regulation, you take away nasty stuff such as pesticides and chemicals which speed up plant growth. There’s no regulation in a black- market. Cannabis can trigger psychosis if you have the genes for such problems to occur, but so can legal drugs like alcohol and caffeine. We don’t know what is in black-market cannabis. However, once it’s regulated so many of these negative effects are taken away.

Outdated and Unfair testing

Boccarossa wanted to shed some light on how cannabis testing has been skewed and many cited tests in reports are decades old. “Any test with cannabis in Ireland has included tobacco. This sways this in favour of the opposition to legalisation. They’re including one of the most addictive substances in the world in these studies.”

Boccarossa cited a recent discussion surrounding cannabis, where the cited test was conducted between 1978-1979. “Scientists tested the link between brain damage and cannabis use. They hooked monkeys up to a tube that fed pure THC (the prime psychoactive chemical in cannabis) to the brain. The monkeys were unfortunately brain damaged, but this was because no oxygen was given to their brain.” These studies were funded by the American Council of Marijuana and were conducted under the “War on drugs” regime. “Unfortunately, with America making these leading decisions, much of the world followed suit.”

The Financial & Social benefits of Cannabis

Boccarossa used a comparison of Colorado, U.S and Ireland to explore the potential benefits to the economy and social factors. The reason why Colorado is cited, is the population difference between the state and Ireland is 900,000.

“Colorado generated 1 billion dollars in revenue between 2014-2019 from the cannabis industry. Across the U.S, there were 211,000 jobs created from the industry. There was also a 368% increase in hemp cultivation, which is factored into many other industries. Look at the problems farmers are facing now, if we bring hemp cultivation into play it could be a huge cash cow, which could be crucial in years to come.”

“There are many studies to show that alcoholism and petty crime rates (fights, robbery) have dropped in places where cannabis has been legalised. All you have to do is walk down Camden street and Harcourt street on a Friday or Saturday night, you can see the problems alcohol causes. Cannabis has been condemned as a ‘gateway drug’ for years, but alcohol is a gateway drug Ireland consumes to a large extent.”

The intention to challenge and the long- term goal

Boccarossa has drafted a letter calling on any doctors, activists, or anyone who wants to see change in legislation to sign the petition. There will be fundraisers such as merch sales and ‘the medicated marathon’ which all proceeds will go towards funding our push for legislation.

“We want to bring a human rights case to the government for medical legislation. There are children who suffer from 30 seizures a day and many other people are in need of medication. We want mirror what happened in South Africa, where a similar case was brought to the government, questioning how people can be denied the right to natural, self-medication in their own home. The case was won.”

The movement is not only to push for legislation, but it also aims to educate and inform the public of what cannabis can do and how cannabis vilification and criminalisation was rooted in racism and ignorance.

Luke Murphy, Co-Editor