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The decriminalisation of drugs for personal use has moved another big step closer

An Oireachtas Committee has now recommended it.

Image: Shutterstock/photopixel

THE OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE set up to look at possible changes to the drug laws has ‘strongly recommended’ that the possession of a small amount of illegal drugs be decriminalised.

After months of research into reducing the harm caused by drug abuse, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality has published its findings.

It also follows a visit by a delegation to Portugal where the possession of a small quantity of drugs does not result in a criminal record.

The committee’s findings can be summed up in a number of points:

  • That drug possession could be dealt with by way of a civil response rather than the criminal justice system.
  • That gardaí and health providers have discretion in choosing this option.
  • Those found in possession would attend counselling and treatment meetings and a ‘disuasion committee’ to help them stop using drugs.
  • When attending these meetings, that they be in an informal setting.
  • That research be undertaken so that these measures are appropriate to Ireland.

The committee argues that there are number of benefits to the decriminalisation including easing the burden on gardaí and the courts system. The targeting of drug dealers would continue and in fact should be escalated.

It’s also argued that it gives individuals an “opportunity of a second chance at turning their life around”.

The overall idea of decriminalising the possession of small quantities of drugs has already been backed by Ireland’s Drugs Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Under the Portuguese system, possession of drugs for personal use is decriminalised only for quantities that would be considered use for 10 days. Possession of more than this stated amount is still considered a crime.

drugs Source: Oireachtas.ie

Read: Carrying drugs for personal use is illegal. But politicians are looking at changing that >

Read: Most men think decriminalising drugs is a good idea – but women aren’t so sure >

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Rónán Duffy

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