The Committee proposed the following recommendations based on the evidence presented to it.
1. The Committee strongly recommends the introduction of a harm reducing and rehabilitative approach, whereby the possession of a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use, could be dealt with by the way of a civil/administrative approach and rather than via the criminal justice route.
2. The Committee recommends that discretion for the application of this approach would remain with An Garda Síochána/Health Providers in respect of the way in which an individual in possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use might be treated.
3. The Committee recommends that any harm reducing and rehabilation approach be applied on a case-by-case basis, with appropriately resourced services available to those affected, including resources for assessment (similar to the Dissuasion Committees used in Portugal) and the effective treatment of individuals concerned.
4. The Committee draws attention to the success of ‘informal’ interaction with users when referred to the ‘Dissuasion Committees’ in Portugal and recommends that such an approach should be employed in Ireland if the recommendations in this report are to be adopted.
5. The Committee recommends that resources be invested in training and education on the effects of drugfs and that appropriate treatment be made available to those who need to avail of same. The Committee feels that out-of-school ‘informal’ interaction by Youth Services could have a major role to play in this context.
6. The Committee recommends that research be undertaken to ensure that the adoption of any alternative approach be appropriate in an Irish context.
7. The Committee recommends that in addition to other measures, enactment of legislation in relation to Spent Convictions be prioritised.
The report is due to be forwarded to the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and also the the Drugs Minister Aodhan O’Riordain
Whether the recommendations are to be adopted remain to be seen, but the sentiment expressed in recent times is certainly much different that ever before.
With the new Misuse Of Drugs Act due and also a new National Drugs Strategy, it could be a few interesting months ahead.
2015 has arguably been one of the most eventful years for drug policy reform in Ireland. As the year ends Ireland looks set to slowly begin the shift away from outright drug prohibition.
While any shift in policy is likely to be limited, it is perhaps the beginning of treating drug usage as a medical rather than judicial concern.
This shift in policy might just be natural progression, we have seen Ireland change views in other areas such as gay marriage.
A number of factors are key, if not the cause of this shift.
The appointment of Aodhán Ó Ríordáin as Minister for Drugs Strategy is part of the catalyst for this shift. He has opened the debate around decriminalisation, medically supervised injection centres and much more.
Representatives from the following groups who submitted proposals appeared before the committee:
– Students for Sensible Drug Policy Ireland
– BeLonG To
– Dublin North East Drugs Task Force;
– Association for Criminal Justice Research and Development
– Irish Penal Reform Trust
– Irish Association of Social Workers
– Merchants Quay Ireland
– Irish Hospital Consultants Association
– Ana Liffey Drug Project
– Citywide Drugs Crisis Campaign.
ALDP have been active since 1982 and currently has around 2,500 active users. ALDP offers ‘Low Threshold – Harm Reduction’ services to individuals experiencing problematic substance use.
Our meetings covered a number of areas such as: The upcoming elections, plans for a medically supervised injection centre, the new Misuse of Drugs Act, the National Drugs Strategy, future collaborations and much more.
With regards to the upcoming election both Ana Liffey and CityWide are preparing to further lobby politicians and parties on the issues facing them and the users of their services.
Although not optimistic all of us were in agreement that political parties should be addressing drugs policy in their manifestos ahead of the elections.
The Help Not Harm team would like to thank Ana Quigley and Tony Duffin for their time. We can’t commend them enough for their work in the area.
Help Not Harm activists are also set for an interesting few weeks ahead, with many key public appearances.
Graham de Barra and Dan Kirby are two of the individuals from Help Not Harm who attended in these meetings. Both are set to appear in front of the Justice Committee in the Oireachtas in the coming weeks.
“If the government want to extirpate disaffection in Ireland by the gallows, they must sow the whole island with hemp.” – Robert Southey (September 28th 1803)
Occasionally I come across a nugget of hemp history in the Irish context worthy of sharing. You may recall my hemp history articles relating to George Sigerson and Napoleon Bonaparte
The following is a quote I came across during some recent research. Perhaps it can be considered both fascinating and morbid.
These words were written on the 28th September in 1803 by the British poet Robert Southey.
His words are in reaction to the execution of the Irish rebellion leader Robert Emmet who had been killed eight days previously.
Robert Emmet came from a wealthy Protestant family, who were sympathetic to the plight of Irish Catholics. He would be part of two failed rebellions in 1798 and 1803, and was executed for his role in the latter.
In September 1803 the poet Robert Southey wrote the following:
“Had they said to him ‘Promise to plot no more and you shall be free.’ such a man would have been as safe under such promise as in the grave. If the government want to extirpate disaffection in Ireland by the gallows, they must sow the whole island with hemp.”
The latter part of the quote refers to the hangman’s rope used to hang rebels which was made from hemp. In the aftermath of the 1798 and 1803 uprisings many rebels were executed in this manner.
While today we think of hemp for its thousands of potential and peaceful applications, its worth bearing in mind its use historically has not always been a peaceful one.
Ironically for the hemp plant while once a major part of wars it has itself in recent years been the victim of a war, the War on Drugs.
Luckily for us all the globe seems to be reawakening to the many beneficial aspects that hemp has to offer.
The current government could perhaps being to sow hemp to calm a dissatisfaction of another kind. While not a cure all, a vibrant and thriving hemp industry in Ireland could provide much needed jobs, resources and income for the state.
The newspaper reports that Ming refused to dismiss the speculation when pressed on the matter.
The story is fairly surprising considering Luke only recently took up his role as an MEP for the Midlands-North-West constituency.
Luke topped the poll in 2014 with 124,064 first preferences votes. This equates to about 19.2% of the total vote.
The Midlands-North-West constituency is comprised of: Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Offaly, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath; and the city of Galway.
Since Mayo is part of his constituency then Luke potentially has some votes already secured in the area.
Unfortunately there is no breakdown of how each county voted in the European elections, so we can’t obtain a figure for his support in Mayo.
However, given his strong showing in the European elections, the general electability of independents, and his high profile, then there is a real possibility Luke could take a seat.
It is curious that he is being linked to contest the election in Mayo, given his political and personal background is more aligned to Galway, Roscommon and to a lesser extent Leitrim.
However he may not want to stand against Michael Fitzmaurice, the Ming backed candidate who won the by-election for Luke’s vacant dail seat. Thus the decision (potentially) was to run in Mayo.
So why might he be running?
It should be acknowledged that as an MEP he has a much lower public profile in Ireland, and given the size of the European parliament (751 members) he arguably has limited speaking time or input overall.
There may also be personal reasons at play, such as the travel and time away from home that is involved with being an MEP.
These factors may have shaped his decision, if he does stand.
If Luke does declare it would see him going head to head with Enda Kenny. The Taoiseach topped the poll in Mayo in 2011.
If Luke fails to be elected he will retain his MEP seat. However if he was elected he would have to stand down as an MEP should he wish to take up his role as a TD.
In such a scenario one of his four nominees chosen as a replacement candidate would take up the position of MEP. John Wilson, the Garda whistle blower, is one of Luke’s potential replacements.
Of course there is a possibility that this is all just speculation and that Luke will not contest the election. So far no other media outlet has reported on the matter.
From the perspective of self-promotion then allowing such a story to run does Luke no harm.
I made queries of my own with Luke and his staff, but got no further comment on the matter. It will be interesting to see if this story develops further, or if it is just rumours.
The prospect of Luke contesting the same constituency of Enda Kenny is certainly mouth watering, and it could draw the current (and likely future) Taoiseach into a discussion on cannabis.
Tristan’s family are seeking to use cannabis oil which has CBD and low levels of THC among its active ingredients.
According to the Irish Examiner such treatment has been tested at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, and also in the Netherlands and France.
Speaking to the Irish IndependentYvonne said “We have a neurologist that has agreed to take Tristan on in the US and that’s what we are fundraising for” and that “We are going to Colorado when the funds are there and when Tristan is stable enough to go.”
Speaking about the oil she stated “They will find the correct dosage for his condition, age, seizure types…it’s a very slow process getting to the correct dose.”
She added “…then they will take away some of the medications he is on because he is on six, which is a huge amounts for a 20-month-old,”
Yvonne when speaking to the Irish Examiner called on the government to allow medical cannabis “sooner rather than later”
There have been an array of stories from the US of patients, or their family, seeking similar treatments for various ailments. One such story saw a family move to Colorado also due to epilepsy and since then their daughters condition has improved
Much of the interest in cannabis and epilepsy follows the introduction of cannabis strains and products specifically for treating such conditions. Charlotte’s Web is perhaps the best known example
We wish Yvonne, Tristan and the rest of the family the best of luck. We hope they get the results they expect.
It would be remiss of me to not to say that the fact families like this have to travel abroad for such treatment is a disgrace. The time has long passed for Ireland and other countries to allow more research into and access to medicinal cannabis