Saturday 16 December 2017

FF proposes relaxing laws on small-time drug possession

Fianna Fail's drugs spokesperson Jack Chambers. Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail's drugs spokesperson Jack Chambers. Photo: Tom Burke
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

People caught with a small amount of drugs will avoid criminal prosecution in certain cases under a new policy agreed by Fianna Fáil.

The parliamentary party has endorsed a new drugs strategy that would see the introduction of a "delayed criminalisation model" whereby those caught in possession of drugs could avail of treatment or other services in lieu of prosecution.

The plan, which is being spearheaded by the party's drugs spokesperson Jack Chambers, is aimed at reducing the number of cases whereby people caught with a small amount of drugs end up in prison.

Mr Chambers has also secured the support for a proposal which would allow GPs to prescribe "opiate substitutes" such as methadone and suboxone in a bid to "move away" from methadone clinics. The five-page document, seen by the Irish Independent, has been adopted as party policy and submitted as part of the National Drugs Strategy.

Other measures include:

  • the roll-out on a pilot basis of "therapeutic communities" within prisons;
  • bringing alcohol into any future overall drugs strategy;
  • targeted interventions in schools by law enforcement agencies and former drug users;
  • the development of a 'drug-related intimidation' strategy to support families and others impacted by drug debt and intimidation.

The most controversial proposal is the relaxing of the law in relation to drug possession but Mr Chambers, a Dublin West TD, has insisted that any such move must be carefully worked out.

"We should also explore the introduction of a delayed criminalisation model where drug offences, currently defined for personal usage, are directed towards proper treatment and intervention services so healthcare is prioritised over a criminal justice and prison process that only reinforces addiction and deprivation," the document states.

"It is important that this model would be properly codified, constructed and formalised to ensure that people with drug addiction are given the opportunity and chance to overcome addiction."

The submission emphasises the importance of "major reform" in order to tackle the "crippling drugs problem".

Irish Independent

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