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Saturday, 5 March 2016

Help Not Harm in Cork, Ireland







I had a fabulous time in Cork on Thursday meeting energetic, focused, passionate, professional and motivated campaigners. I think progression in Ireland is assured with these peeps running the show.

In the afternoon the Help Not Harm team together with SSDP IE held a "Call to arms" meeting at the Cork Institute of Technology which was attended by around 70 people to rally interest and support for their new medical cannabis campaign hosted by Daniel Ciemiega and with talks from Brian Houlihan, Tom Curran and Myself.


In the evening, the very first campaign meeting was held at Graham De Barra's great little office and was packed to standing room only. Joining #HelpNotHarm and #SSDP were numerous motivated and passionate individuals and organisations including CISTA NI, NORML IRE,  United Patients Alliance, The Green Party and a local councillor too.



Everyone around the room gave an intro about who they were, what their goals, or the goals of their organisation were and it was clear that there were a very diverse range of desired outcomes in the room.

Graham set the stall out right from the very beginning; this was not to be a meeting about our differences but about all that we had in common. The purpose was to gain as much support as possible for this initial medical cannabis campaign and start making plans.  For most, this was simply the best path to getting what everyone wants and the rest accepted that whilst it may not be what they ultimately wanted it was a good step in the right direction and they would either actively support and help or at the very least, not do anything to campaign against it. This way, it would be (at different levels) a benefit to all involved.



"From this point on everybody involved needs to leave their personal goals and egos outside. For this to be as successful as it can be we need focus only on the goals of the campaign and any dissenting opinions left to be expressed in private"

"We should all respect each others opinions and deal with each other in a professional, supportive and collaborative way"




This took about 10 minutes. Everyone agreed.  No-one left the room. Now the planning could start.

Over the next 90 mins everyone gave input. Lots of great ideas and given the context as above, feedback was challenging but kind and respectful and by the time the meeting drew to a close we had a great set of ideas, actions, owners and the beginnings of a great and collaborative plan.

Some groups committed to more, some to less, but the one thing that was assured was that Help Not Harm has the entire community behind it and as such gives it the very best chance to be successful and will inevitably move the whole conversation many steps forward and in double quick time.  

A win for Help Not Harm.  A win for all groups involved whatever their own goals and most importantly a win for medical cannabis patients in Ireland.


Thanks for inviting me, guys. I look forward to working closely with you, and getting United Patients Alliance IRE up and running.

Jon Liebling – Political Director of United Patients Alliance
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