Watch: Citizens’ assembly considers five models of drugs law reform

Watch: Citizens' assembly considers five models of drugs law reform

Five alternative approaches to drugs laws were presented to members of the citizens’ assembly on drug use on the weekend, involving dissuasion, diversion, depenalisation, decriminalisation and legislation.

The 100 members of the assembly met for a fourth time on the weekend in Malahide, Co Dublin. Recordings of the Saturday and Sunday sessions can be found on the assembly’s YouTube channel.

The workshop session on legal models was designed to help members clarify the type of questions they might ballot on before finalising their report and recommendations to the Oireachtas.

The assembly will continue to deliberate on these issues through the final two meetings of the Assembly in late September and mid-October.

Paul Reid, chair of the assembly, said: “We are now two-thirds of the way through our work and members are beginning to focus on outcomes.

“Through the four meetings to date we have heard from over 50 speakers and received 800 separate submissions from members of the public on the issue of how we can reduce the harm caused by drugs use. There is clearly a huge amount of expertise, opinion, and interest in our work.

“But now we must concentrate on what recommendations we are going to make to our legislators in our final report. In doing so we have to consider the range of options available to us and begin to shape what any potential changes to Ireland’s drugs laws will look like.

“That is why we have debated these five models, although members are in no way bound to these examples and are entirely free to shape them as they see fit when we make our final decisions.”

He added: “Alongside this, it is becoming clear from the discussions that our recommendations will include appropriate implementation of all the laws and policies that already exist.

“There is an evident mood of frustration among members that measures such as the health diversion programme that was agreed by government in 2019 and would allow gardaí to divert those caught with drugs to the health system has not yet been implemented. This must be part of the solution along with any new approach that is recommended.

“I want to thank all members and speakers for their work and participation to date and look forward to continuing our important work over the next two meetings.”

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