As the Government announce today a shift in the State’s approach to drug use TD Gino Kenny is calling for a “legal review” as to why full decriminalisation is not legally possible according to a State expert group.
“While I welcome the policy of diverting those caught in possession of drugs for personal use into the health system rather than the criminal justice system, I believe that limiting it to the first offence is effectively a halfway house rather than the full decriminalisation that is warranted.
“If we truly want to address drug use and addiction in society, we must adopt a progressive policy of a committed health-led approach rather than criminalising people who need help rather than a prison sentence.
“We need greater clarity on what mandatory referral to the HSE means. If an individual has a serious issue with hard drugs medical advice may be appropriate. Individuals must also be guaranteed confidentiality when it comes to access by insurance companies. Referring individuals to the HSE for small amounts of cannabis, however, can only help clog up an already stretched service and would quickly become inoperable.
“While I accept that this shift is a step in the right direction, I echo the Ana Liffey Drug Project’s call for a legal review of the expert group analysis that full decriminalisation would present “constitutional and legal difficulties”. If these difficulties exist, we must examine ways in which they can be addressed through robust legislation.
“It is progress but it should go further if we are to stay in line with the global move towards a health-led approach to drug use and misuse.
“I am also calling for the expungement of prior convictions for personal possession so that everyone can now be included in this new process and avail of the benefits of a more health-led approach. It would be completely unjust to exclude those with prior convictions.”