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Adult caution list: Those caught in possession of cannabis for personal use may not face criminal charges

An official announcement is expected later today.

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THE POSSESSION OF cannabis and cannabis resin is to be added to the adult caution list 14 years after the programme was established. 

This now means that anyone caught in possession of cannabis for personal use can receive a caution instead of being arrested and charged with criminal possession. 

Gardaí have been calling on this to be introduced for several years. It means that those caught with small amounts of cannabis will not go through the criminal justice system. It also frees up gardaí from the paperwork associated with such an arrest. 

Previously, only certain offences were on the adult caution list, many of which dealt with public order incidents such as being drunk in a public place. Low-level assault, as well as theft under the value of €1,000, are also on the list. 

The scheme came into force on the 1 February 2006 and only applied to offences committed on or after that date.

At the time, gardaí said the scheme was “an alternative to the prosecution of certain persons against whom there is evidence of the commission of a scheduled criminal offence, where the prosecution of such offence is not required in the public interest”, according to their statement on the scheme 14 years ago.

Gardaí will be able to use their discretion to determine who can get the caution and who will not. Officers must consider if the alleged offender is “deemed to be a person suitable for consideration”.

The caution will be extended for something known as simple possession. This is where someone has drugs on them for personal use. Those caught with larger quantities will still face prosecution under sale and supply legislation.

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An official announcement on the matter is due later today. 

A working group was set up in 2018 to consider such issues such as the possession of drugs for personal use, and to review other jurisdictions’ drug laws. 

In 2019, the Government today unveiled its plan to give those caught in possession of drugs a chance to seek treatment instead of being arrested on the spot. 

In the first instance of being found in possession, gardaí will refer the person to health services. 

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