Ireland: Joint Committee on Justice report on an examination of the present approach to sanctions for possession of certain amounts of drugs for personal use
In selecting the topic of ‘an examination of the present approach to sanctions for possession of certain amounts of drugs for personal use’ from its Committee Work Programme for further examination and discussion, the Joint Committee on Justice acknowledged the need to change the current approach and the developments that had occurred in recent years in relation to Ireland’s drug policies.
Among these includes the HSE’s intention of using a harm reduction strategy towards drugs and drug usage, outlined in Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery. A healthled response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025; the introduction of the first drug testing service at the Electric Picnic festival in summer of this year; and the proposed establishment of a Citizen’s Assembly on Drugs, which is scheduled to commence in early 2023.
In light of such ongoing developments and acknowledging the significant problems that remain with problem drug use and addiction in Ireland, the Committee decided to analyse this topic in more detail and invited written submissions seeking the views of various stakeholders on this topic.
Stakeholders, in addition to any general points on the topic, were asked to comment on whether they believe the criminal justice system is the most appropriate avenue for dealing with possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use; whether the current approach towards drugs is counter-productive in terms of dissuading people from drug use and encouraging engagement in rehabilitative programmes; and whether there are particular jurisdictions with alternative drug policies from which Ireland could learn.
Based on the evidence provided to the Committee, it is clear that there are several alternative approaches towards drug policies aside from the current approach, among them the potential to decriminalise the possession of certain amounts of drugs for personal use and the regulation of drug usage.