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Street drugs

Ireland set to decriminalise cannabis, cocaine and heroin

The country will open the first supervised injection centres early next year, with an overall aim to legalise personal use

Personal use of weed, cocaine and heroin is set to be decriminalised in Ireland over the next year, according to reports in The Irish Times.

National Drugs Safety minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin announced the radical new plans at an LSE talk yesterday, along with his intentions to open the country's first ever supervised injection centres. He claimed that decriminalisation would help remove the “stigma” surrounding drug addiction, and bring about a major shift in the way the illness is treated. 

“I am firmly of the view 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,” he told The Irish Times. “Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours.”

The first of these injection centres will apparently open in Dublin “early next year”, before being rolled out gradually across the country – following in Cork, Galway and Limerick. Ó Ríordáin claims that the spaces will be “clinically controlled environments” to ensure addicts don't get caught up in the criminal justice system. He made it clear, however, that it would still remain a crime to sell, distribute or profit from illicit drugs. 

Although the plans are still being processed, Ó Ríordáin has stressed that there is now a “strong consensus that drugs across the board should be decriminalised”. Irish officials have allegedly been discussing the technicalities with the Portuguese – who decriminalised all drugs in 2001, and have seen an overall drop in usage since. 

“Too often those with drug problems suffer from stigma, due to a lack of understanding or public education about the nature of addiction,” he added. “This stigma can be compounded for those who end up with a criminal record due to possession of drugs for their own use.”