A new health-based approach to personal drug use will save lives according to leading political figures after the announcement of a new policy for first and second time offenders in possession of a minor quantity of drugs.
The government’s new “three strike” approach to personal drug use is aimed at giving people a second chance. Anyone caught with a small amount of drugs will get a HSE referral first and then a Garda caution before being dealt with by the courts.
Over 10 thousand people are arrested every year for personal drug use and the government admits more resources will be needed to make the proposals work. New proposals will see people referred to the HSE the first time they’re caught.
After that it’ll be a Garda caution – and if they’re caught a third time, they’ll be brought before the courts. There has been criticism the plans don’t go far enough and that decriminalisation should’ve been looked at.
The plans will be rolled out next year but critics say they don’t go far enough and that decriminalisation should’ve been looked at.
The government insists this isn’t a move towards legalising drugs. The changes will take effect next summer.
Minister for health Simon Harris said: “This is a very significant day. For far too long, we have only looked at drug use from a criminal justice perspective. Addiction has impacted so many families and many communities. It is essential we look beyond the labels society forces on people with addiction, look to the person and how the system can help them.
Today is the start of a new approach. One that offers people a helping hand, not handcuffs. One that offers a person a second chance. I strongly believe this will help us battle drug addiction and ultimately save lives.”
Minister Harris added: “This approach will not decriminalise drug use; it is a mechanism to defer people to health and social services for help and support. Ministers Flanagan, Byrne and I are very clear that there are no plans to legalise any type of drugs, including cannabis.”
"If it's a health problem the first time then it's a health problem the one hundredth time" Thanks @tonyduffin. People who use drugs deserve support and not punishment. Every time. #SupportDontPunish pic.twitter.com/NqUO2HGq1o
— UISCE (@myuisce) August 2, 2019