Words: Eva O’Beirne
On Tuesday, the government agreed to establish a Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use which could lead to certain drugs being legalised in Ireland.
The Citizens’ Assembly will be asked to consider the legislative, policy and operational changes the State could make to significantly reduce the harmful impacts of illicit drugs on individuals, families, communities and wider society.
It is due to begin its work in April and is expected to conclude before the end of the year.
Citizens’ Assemblies have become an important part of Ireland’s democratic process, with previous forums deliberating on a variety of matters including Marriage Equality and the 8th Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal).
The news comes after the recommendation by an Oireachtas committee to decriminalise drugs for personal use.
The committee have made several recommendations to expand drug policies in Ireland, particularly policies surrounding cannabis.
The committee recommended the decriminalisation of possession of drugs for personal use, the expansion of the Medical Cannabis Access Programme, the rapid expansion of the drug testing pilot scheme, first trialled at Electric Picnic, and the proposed Citizens’ Assembly on drugs be held as soon as possible.
Recruitment for the Citizens’ Assembly will be done through a mailing campaign with 20,000 randomly-selected households invited to apply to participate in the Assembly.
From those who respond indicating a willingness to take part, members will be selected on the basis of gender, age, geography and a number of other factors to ensure that they are broadly representative of wider society.
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