Words: Ellen Kenny
The report recommends a Citizens’ Assembly next year on drugs as soon as possible.
A report by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice has recommended the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use, according to reports from The Journal.
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.
The report also recommended that future policy examine the “cultivation of currently illicit substances” at a modest, non-profit level.
The committee also recommended that Ireland’s first medically supervised injecting centre, planned for Dublin, to be opened as soon as possible.
According to the report, Ireland should examine the approaches to drug possession for personal use in countries including Portugal, Malta and Switzerland.
Chair of the committee James Lawless TD said he recognised the ongoing and significant problems with drug addiction in Ireland and the “tragic impact this has on societies and communities”. According to the Fianna Fáil TD, the rate of drug deaths in Ireland ranks at three times the European average and that these figures are among the highest within the EU.
The Labour Party has also long been calling for the decriminalisation of drugs in Ireland. Last month, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the party’s justice spokesperson called for a firm date to be put on the Citizens’ Assembly.
He said: “The policy of this government to criminalise drug users is archaic and incompatible with a health led approach to drugs. We welcome the decision to accept this motion, however we call on the government to get serious about sensible drug policy and to set a date for a Citizens’ Assembly on drugs without any further delay.
“We are now looking for action to be taken and for a firm date to be confirmed for a Citizens’ Assembly on drugs without any more delay. The Citizens’ Assembly is a key tool that is paramount to change in this society.”
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