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Report on young people's attitudes towards drugs calls for decriminalisation

47% of the young people surveyed thought that treatment and support was the solution to drug abuse.

A REPORT SURVEYING a panel of young people for the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs has called for the decriminalisation of drugs and easier access to self-injecting facilities.

The report, led by the Department of Health and facilitated by the Department of Children, held consultations with young people from Comhairle na nÓg and Hub na nÓg.

A group of young people drawn from the general population as well as young people living in areas that experience the impacts of significant drug use was compiled, with members having a mean age of 15 years and nine months.

The group developed key recommendations for the Citizens’ Assembly, including legalising cannabis and using the resulting tax revenue to fund harm reduction centres and detox centres.

The decriminalisation of hard drugs for personal use and the provision of clinics to self-administer drugs and get access to clean needles and healthcare were also suggested.

Young people also recommended lowering the age of drug education without parents’ consent to 16, drug seminars and workshops for teachers, parents and youth workers, and lowering the age for one-to-one support from youth workers to 16.

Participants voted on what measures they believed were most likely to combat drug use, with 47% of the group choosing ‘Treatment and Support’, 24% voting for ‘Education’ and ‘Legal Reform’ respectively and 5% voting for an improvement in ‘Community Life’.

Some participants stated that although drugs were widespread in their communities adults were unwilling to provide them with information about drugs and drug use because they believed that it would encourage them to use drugs.

Participants noted how widespread drug use in certain areas meant that facilities and activities for young people are often closed down.

They also said that drug use can “ruin communities and make them filthy”.

They described neighbourhoods littered with drug related waste where there are no safe places for young people to socialise.

Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy Hildegarde Naughton launched the report today stating:

“While this report has been informed by young people from across the country from various backgrounds and localities, I am encouraging any young person with a view on drug use in Ireland to engage with the Citizens’ Assembly to ensure that the voices of the next generation inform the Assembly’s deliberations and indeed Government policy on what is such an important issue facing society.”

“I believe there is an onus on society to have particular regard to protecting children and young people from the harms associated with drug use and drug supply.”

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