Oireachtas justice committee backs ‘effective’ drug decriminalisation

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

The Oireachtas justice committee has unanimously recommended the effective decriminalisation of drug possession for personal use in a landmark report published today.

‎Under the committee’s recommendations, the possession of drugs would remain an offence, but would be considered an administrative offence and gardaí would have the discretion to direct offenders to health services or to the courts.

The approach is similar to that taken since 2001 in Portugal, where three committee members and its chair travelled in June to collect first-hand evidence.

The committee received 87 submissions during a consultation period earlier‎ this year, all but one of which endorsed a harm reduction approach.

The committee’s report has been sent to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and minister of state Aodhán Ó Ríordáin .

Mr Ó Ríordáin said last week that‎ he was “in favour of a decriminalisation model, but it must be one that suits the Irish context and be evidence based”.

He also said the endorsement of the justice committee would depoliticise the issue.

It has been suggested‎ that the new model of dealing with drug users could free up court time as well as funds for more serious gardaí operations.

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