Press Release

Public Consultation launched on Personal Possession of Illegal Drugs

A public consultation has today (31st May) been launched on the possession of illegal drugs for personal use. The consultation seeks the views of the public on the effectiveness of the current law and on what alternatives could be considered. The purpose of this public consultation is to inform the deliberations of a Government Working Group set up to examine alternative approaches for personal possession of illegal drugs.

The Working Group was established under the new drug strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery’. The Working Group will make recommendations to Ministers for Health and Justice and Equality within 12 months.

Commenting on the public consultation, the Minister for Health Promotion and the National Drug Strategy Catherine Byrne TD, said “The Government has committed to supporting a health-led approach to drug use. I am very conscious that a criminal conviction for drug possession can have a long term negative effect on a person’s ability to work and travel. It can stigmatise a young person and prevent them from achieving their potential into the future. I encourage anybody with an interest in this issue to participate in the consultation. I am especially anxious to hear the views of young people and families who may be impacted by the current legislation. I am very much looking forward to receiving the recommendations of the Working Group later this year.”

Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, welcomed the launch of the consultation, saying, “I want to commend Minister Catherine Byrne on progressing this important work and encourage the public to participate in this consultation. This is an issue we need to re-examine as a country and I am pleased to see this important element of the National Drug Strategy moving forward.”

Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, said “An effective criminal justice system is one which operates in the best interest of society as a whole. I am keen to explore measures which would prevent situations where people, particularly young people, could descend into a life of offending and re-offending. I welcome Minister Byrne’s initiative and I urge people to respond to this public consultation.”

Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, Chairperson of the Working Group added “Drug use is a societal issue which affects everybody. Therefore, it is very important that all members of society voice their opinions and concerns about this issue through the online consultation. Your views will inform the deliberations of the group”.

The consultation can be accessed via an online questionnaire at https://health.gov.ie/consultations

It can be accessed on smartphone, tablet or computer and should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. The public consultation is open until 30 June 2018.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

In December 2017, Minister Byrne established a Working Group to examine alternative approaches for personal possession of illegal drugs in Ireland. This Working Group, which is jointly led by the Department of Health and the Department of Justice and Equality, is tasked with undertaking research and consultation to identify alternatives to the current system and to ensure that any alternatives are appropriate in the Irish context. Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan chairs the group and membership includes government officials, legal experts, people with experience of using drugs, representation from An Garda Síochána, Probation Service and the Health Service.

More information on the Working Group and its terms of reference are available here.

The public consultation will take place over a four- week period ending on 30 June.

Submissions can be made by completing the consultation online here

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