Global Medical Cannabis Summit
During my time in New York in 2016 during UNGASS, I approached some investors and Governments with the idea to coordinate a global message led by science and healers dubbed “The Web Summit of Medical Cannabis”.
The most fun part of this experience was selecting a dream team of speakers from around the world touring the country as part of Ireland’s first ever Cannabis Week. We had in attendance many elderly people in particular, members of the police, Government and mothers who came to learn more about the application of cannabis as a medicine.
Having been featured by Prime Time, who conducted a special programme surrounding the event, it allowed the message be broadcast across every Television, Online and Radio news channel in the country.
We held a follow up conference in the year proceeding which kept momentum for the new medical cannabis programme which has since been passed by the Irish Government. The mission of the campaign set in motion a new regulatory framework to work with.
The Global Medical Cannabis Summit brand was “borrowed” by Richard Branson for a highly exclusive conference that took place in Necker Island in 2019. As the saying goes, “imitation is the highest form of flattery”. There are many interests now involved in profiting from cannabis medicines and therefore I stepped away from the cause to focus on more sustainable means of production, including grow cooperatives and non-profit associations.
Help Not Harm
Help Not Harm began as a campaign in the 2016 Irish General Elections calling on political parties to include drug decriminalisation under their manifesto. As a first principle the organisation recognises that the current approach to drugs is not working. Drug-related deaths are 47 per million per year in Ireland, three times the EU average. There should be a shift towards a public health led response to drugs such as in Portugal where the number of drug-related deaths is 3 post-decriminalisation in 2001.
The campaign was financed by Paul Birch, founder of Bebo, and founded by Graham de Barra and Florian Scheibein in August 2015. It has featured in all major media outlets including RTÉ Radio One, Today FM, thejournal.ie, Newstalk, Irish Independent and Evening Echo.
My responsibilities as founder included company creation, launch of the website, social media and supervising the brand creation. With the help of a major PR Agency, and former Producer of the Gay Byrne Late Late Show, I have acted as spokesperson to the campaign. In order to continuously expand our network, I connected multi-stakeholders within Government and the community to contribute towards common goals set out by the campaign and allow for better collaboration and exchange of resources.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy Ireland
After initiating a local civil rights campaign around drug policy reform as a college student, I was provided a scholarship to participate in a conference in Denver by SSDP in 2012 where I was elected as the first ever international board member.
At this time the organisation sought to expand it’s presence internationally. Being based outside of the USA, I could help the organisation to realise this goal and I established SSDP societies in University College Cork and National University of Ireland, Galway. I founded the International Outreach Committee and recruited students all over the world to work on the organisation’s international presence. During my term I helped to expand the number of active international chapters by leading open webinars, university talks with experts including Dr. Joao Goulao who was responsible for introducing decriminalisation in Portugal, and organising the 1st SSDP Ireland conference. Some of the places where I have presented and worked with SSDP include Colorado, The George Washington University, United Nations (Vienna), University of Toronto, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin and University College Cork.
I represented the organisation as a consultant to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2013 and 2014 in Vienna, Austria. Here I led a panel discussion among leading figures of civil society, policy-makers and nation state delegates. Student attendance at the U.N. was nonexistent within the organisation when I began and I directly registered seven students as consultants and secured university scholarships for them to attend. It was my opinion that international politics was lacking a youth voice and I succeeded in making a change and setting a precedent at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime for more youth attendance.
Support Don’t Punish
“Support, Don’t Punish” is a campaign launched in 10 cities in Ireland in 2014 & 2015 as part of an international awareness campaign to change drug policy. The global campaign aims to change drug policies from a criminal issue to a public health issue.
In Dublin 2015, Senator James Heffernan and Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin spoke at the event and declared his support for decriminalisation of all drugs and for the Support Don’t Punish campaign. Other supporters worldwide include Richard Branson and Kofi Annan.
The campaign remains active in Ireland to this day, and in June 2019 featured candidates from The Green Party to speak about sustainable drug policies.