The last few months have been quite interesting in terms of drug policy in Ireland.
Since the arrival of the new Minister for Drugs Strategy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin there have been numerous positive statements around changing policy in various areas.
Speaking at a recent ‘Support. Don’t Punish’ event, Ó Ríordáin stated he is “an advocate for the decriminalisation of drugs”
Another interesting development is the fact an Oireachtas Committee traveled to Portugal to find out more about how its drug reform has worked.
The committee recently released its reported and you can read it in full here
The report states that the Portuguese model “has not resulted in an increase in drug-taking nor has it resulted in Portugal becoming a destination for drug tourists”
The report also states that the model had “actually resulted in reducing costs to the state”
The Committee also stated that Portuguese government and justice officials told them
- The number of crimes directly related to drug addiction had decreased
- There was at least the same intolerance towards drug trafficking
- The number of HIV/Aids cases dropped dramatically.
The Report also found
- Drug consumers are no longer looked upon or treated as criminals, not only by the authorities, but also by society (including their own families);
- They became less dependent on traffickers and police discretion, being especially true when it comes to people with less resources;
- The end of thousands of criminal cases for drug consumption, that cost time and money with absolutely no gain;
- By being easier to know who is buying drugs, it is easier to know who is selling them.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin is set to meet the Committee on Thursday where more details should emerge on the report and its findings.
However an even more interesting development is the fact that for the first time the Irish public have the opportunity to have their say on the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use.
As reported in the Irish Examiner the Oireachtas Committee which traveled to Portugal is seeking submissions from people and organisations on alternatives to the current model of criminalisation.
The deadline for submissions is August 7th.
This is a great opportunity for members of the public to help shape the debate. I would strongly urge you to take the next few weeks to work on a strong proposal.
I am going to submit a proposal (or two) to the committee and I will make it available to read on the blog.
Please take this opportunity to get involved. It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity.