By the Irish Times

The Cannabis Risk Alliance – a group of doctors – states that they are opposed to the decriminalisation of cannabis on the basis that Ireland is being “led down the path of cannabis legalisation”.

The authors appear to believe that criminalising people who use drugs is an effective way to deter people from using them.

As a group of experts on drug policy, we wish to stress that this is not the case.

Evidence worldwide clearly shows that societies with tougher drug laws do not have lower rates of drug use than those with less repressive regimes. But the damage caused by unnecessary criminal records and the costs of law enforcement and public health working at cross-purposes are now clear.

The ideas underpinning criminalisation came from a different era, one where our understandings of drug dependence and consumption were limited by an absence of science and compassion for individuals who use drugs.