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English Teen Caught with 29 kg of Cannabis in Dublin Airport Receives Prison Sentence



While attitudes and laws around cannabis have shifted immensely in recent years, some stories serve as stark reminders that traveling internationally with cannabis—especially large amounts—comes at a hefty cost.

Last year, an English teenager was caught with a whopping 29 kg of cannabis at Dublin Airport, or nearly 64 lbs, from the United States. According to Mayo News, the 19-year-old from Manchester recently pled guilty to possession, with the cannabis worth an estimated €586,000 or about $634,000 in USD.

Aaron Brock had just come off a flight from Los Angeles on July 9, 2023 when authorities caught on, and he is set to serve three-and-a-half years in prison.

An Ongoing Case Comes to a Close

Judge Martin Nolan said the financial debt was a factor, saying that “Pressure was applied, and he succumbed to that pressure.” According to Gardan Tanya Shinkins, Brock had told Irish authorities upon arrest that he had run up a £10,000 debt over gambling. Brock also mentioned that he had been threatened to pay the money back, and with concern for his safety and that of his family, he believed he “had no other way out.”

Nolan also took Brock’s age into account in the sentencing, calling his move to travel with the large amount of cannabis a “huge misjudgment” while citing his belief that Brock would not re-offend in the future after his release.

Shinkins said that she believed Brock planned to hand the drugs over to a party in Dublin before he returned home to Manchester.

Of course, this is a unique circumstance given the sheer amount of cannabis Brock had on him. In his defense, Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC referenced that his client accepted that he was in possession of a substantial amount of cannabis. In his sentencing, Brock also asked the court to account for his age, the fact that he had no previous offenses, that he cooperated with the garda investigation and was quick to plead guilty.

Ireland and Cannabis

It’s not an isolated incident. In fact, there appears to be a larger trend of cannabis smuggling into Ireland in recent years, though it’s more often done through the postal system.

According to an Irish Times report, authorities had seized nearly 800 packages last year containing cannabis worth just under €5 million as of September 2023, or a weight of approximately 241 kg. If anything, the total volume puts the gravity of Brock’s possession of more than 10% of that amount into better perspective.

In Ireland, it is an offense to cultivate, import, export, produce, supply and possess cannabis without proper licensing. While recreational cannabis is still illegal, the country has recently regulated access to some medicinal cannabis products.

The country’s Medicinal Cannabis Access Programme currently has three qualifying conditions for patients to obtain medical cannabis: spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and severe treatment-resistant epilepsy.

The program first launched after Minister of Health Simon Harris signed legislation on June 26, 2019 to allow for its operation on a five-year pilot basis. After the five years is up, the program will undergo a review. It was designed to facilitate access to cannabis-based products for medical use in line with legalization and clinical guidance surrounding it.

Late last year, Ireland also saw the opening of its first medical cannabis clinic. And while the country seems to be progressively shifting its stance on cannabis, it doesn’t necessarily spell out a major shift for recreational cannabis anytime soon.

Support for adult-use cannabis has remained low among residents, as a survey found that 29.9% supported recreational cannabis legalization in 2019/20—still a notable shift from 2006/07’s 19.1% figure.

While there are surely advocates in Ireland pushing for reform, the government recently delayed the discussion of a bill that would legalize cannabis possession for nine months.