Ireland To Decriminalise Small Amounts Of Drugs
It is a monumental shift in drug policy, and could be a gigantic benefit to the entire country. The news was announced by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the chief of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy. Under the new law, drugs would become decriminalised for personal use, ensuring that drug abuse is dealt with as a health issue, not a criminal one.
According to the drug minister, the current model of prohibition just doesn’t work, and a “radical cultural shift” is required for drug abuse to be tackled - we need to move away from shaming drug users, and instead help them reintegrate. He also pointed out that there was a very sharp contrast between decriminalisation and legalisation – illegal drugs would still be illegal to sell, produce, or possess in large quantities. Not only would this help drug users get the potential help they need, but it will also free up a lot of police time to actively pursue dealers, instead of making up their quotas by hunting everyday users.
“I am firmly of the view that there needs to be a cultural shift in how we regard substance misuse if we are to break this cycle and make a serious attempt to tackle drug and alcohol addiction,” said Ó Ríordáin.
Ó Ríordáin went on to further say that there was a “strong consensus that drugs across the board should be decriminalised.”
At the same time, the minister also announced that he plans to open up supervised injection centres, giving addicts a safe, supervised, and hygienic place to shoot-up, with the aim of eventually reducing and eliminating use.
A MAJOR BLOW TO THE UK PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES BILL
This desire to decriminalise all drugs comes as a major blow to the Conservative government of the UK. Why? Because they are currently trying to push through a Psychoactive Substances Bill that will make any and every psychoactive substance, bar a few approved drugs, illegal. It is a bill based on the Irish Psychoactive Substance Bill, with the UK government claiming it has been a success there. This radical move in the complete opposite direction shows, that if anything, the psychoactive bill has been a complete failure, and will likely be in the UK as well, as critics have warned.
It is not only the UK that will receive a sharp, cold wake-up call, though. The whole of Europe, if not the entire world, will be watching very closely to see how effective this new policy is.
NOTHING IS CERTAIN
It is worth noting, there is no planned date yet, and the law to decriminalise small amounts of drugs has not been hammered ou. It is very much still in the planning phase, and will need to be discussed by parliament at great length. There is a chance that it will be blocked; although, the general feeling seems to be that everyone agrees with the move, so there is a good chance it will come to fruition – especially with the Drugs Minister behind it.
The move would make Ireland the second country in Europe to decriminalise small amounts of all drugs for personal use, behind Portugal. Portugal decriminalised all drugs over a decade ago in response to the unmanageable heroin problem, and since gone from strength to strength, with addiction, use, death and HIV down across the board – there are very few people in any political spectrum within the country that want to go back to the old punitive method.
One thing is for sure, the fact that the Irish government is even considering decriminalisation is massive news, showing that people are becoming tired of the outdated and regressive retributive model of drug policy. This is further shown by the recent UN report calling for all member states to decriminalise drugs – which was quashed by un-named influences before it could be officially released. The world is changing, whether the more conservative elements of our society want it or not. People are growing ever more unrestful with the damning and damaging nature of the War on Drugs. Let’s hope Ireland are successful!