Higher Profile: Ireland’s Martin Condon

Meet the man famous for civil disobedience via public plantings and joints to parliament, Martin Condon of Ireland.
Courtesy of Martin Condon

Longtime Cork County, Ireland, cannabis activist, husband and father of two, Martin Condon, has been leading campaigns to bring an end to cannabis prohibition. Condon has done so by actively engaging in civil disobedience and organizing public demonstrations for the past 12 years, which have been continuing in Ireland for the past 20 years.

He’s supporting many others who are fighting to use cannabis as medicine for severe ailments, such as Vera Twomey, and her now-12-year fight for cannabis to treat her daughter, Ava, who has severe epilepsy (see Higher Profile, A Mother’s Love).

What began on November 5, 2001, with now-member of the European Parliament, Luke “Ming” Flanagan, Condon sent cannabis joints via parcel post to every politician and media outlet and reporter in the country, culminated in the day being designated as, “National Legalise Cannabis Day.”

As reported in The Irish Times at the time of mass joint delivery, “The idea landed Mr. Luke “Ming” Flanagan (29) in Garda (police) custody, however, and last night, a Garda spokesman confirmed he had been released without charge and a file would go to the DPP.”

With no charges pressed, the campaign was viewed as a success, with much attention allotted to the cause—in an educating moment.

A letter drafted by Flanagan stated that along with the gifts, there was a list of 10 reasons why cannabis prohibition should end, with a notation that each joint should be brought to the nearest Garda (police) station, as it’s illegal. It’s unclear how many joints were turned in to authorities from the legislators, but it was noted that Independent TD (Teachtai Dala in Irish, a member of Dail Eireann, the lower house of the Oireachtas, or Irish Parliament) Mr. Jackie Healy Rae was the first to give his up.

It is interesting to note that there was no such note with legalese fine print sent to journalists, rather, a message stating, “I have enclosed a joint for you to enjoy the day.” This writer would have been pleased.

To celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the event, Condon and the now-formed Cannabis Activist Alliance, recreating the campaign, sent out another 200 joints and infused “jellies” (gummies) to every politician and media outlet around the country.

As quoted in Cork County publication CorkBeo, Condon urged, “I hope the message in the letters highlighting the dangers of cannabis prohibition might sink in and those who support the prohibition model might begin to see the problems which it creates and how regulation is a much greater way to achieve harm reduction.”

Condon
Courtesy of Martin Condon

Reducing Harm with Cannabis Awareness

Harm reduction is a crucial part of the cannabis plant being accepted as a beneficial remedy and/or opioid and addictive pain killer replacement. 

Statistics show us that in the U.S., with a population of nearly 330 million, opioid deaths reach upwards of 60,000 or more in a single year. In Ireland, with a population hovering at just below five million people, the country saw close to 300 deaths in 2020 alone, according to DrugAbuse.gov, an Irish government agency.

In legal states in the U.S., it’s been well-documented that opioid use declines when safe access of cannabis is allowed, by up to 25 percent or more.

Cork TD Mick Barry was quoted as saying, “Whilst he has not yet received Martin’s present yet at the time CorkBeo’s went to press, he does ‘believe that the law unnecessarily criminalises a large number of ordinary people from all walks of life who use cannabis and who pose no threat whatsoever to society,’ adding, ‘I believe these laws need to change, and I would like to commend Martin for the work he is doing to highlight these issues.’”

Condon
Courtesy of Martin Condon

Planting Ireland, Honoring Civil Disobedience

Aside from often walking into numerous garda stations with potted cannabis plants in protest of prohibition, Condon has also planted more than 40 cannabis plants across Cork City, where he resides. Specifically in front of City Hall—all shouted out live on his podcast, “Martin’s World,” streamed on Spotify.

“I brought a cannabis plant into our Prime Minister’s office as a gift,” he shared, proudly. “Last Valentine’s Day I brought out some cannabis flowers to show the garda some love—all done live on my podcast.”

The headline from the CorkBeo on the City Hall plantings read, “Guerilla gardener beds cannabis in front of Cork City Hall,” with a notion that “six more cannabis plants have been planted across the city after the Gardai uprooted the previous batch.”

The cannabis plants were reportedly “sticking up amongst the decorative flowers in the carefully manicured beds outside the main entrance.” 

Condon, who has a Bachelors of Science (Bsc) in Herbal Sciences, and is an avid gardener, considered the plantings to be a “peaceful way of protesting against the prohibition of cannabis and the impact it has on people who need it to improve their quality of life.”

Organizing smoke-outs in the park (or smoke-ups, as they call them) have been a given and well attended. One smoke-up raised 650 pounds for a non-cannabis related community endeavor assisting a search and rescue. Another smoke-up had a couple getting engaged within the spirit of advocacy and love for the plant and each other.

Rosa Parks, known for her civil disobedience act of riding in the front of a bus during the fight for desegregation of Blacks in 1960s America, has been an inspiration for Condon. 

“We celebrated the end of 2021 with one final protest in Rosa Park’s honor, as she’s been a civil disobedience inspiration globally,” he concluded. “It was a busy protest year for Ireland, but after enjoying Christmas with our families, we are ready to begin the fight again in 2022.”

The year 2022 sees a Bill before the Irish Government to change the laws around cannabis, and hopefully, remove the criminal sanctions for growing and possessing the plant—and you can be sure Condon and his fellow activists will be there in numbers, shouting out live on the Martin’s World podcast for all to see.

Follow Martin Condon on Facebook and Twitter @Martinsworld420.

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