Ireland will move towards decriminalising substances including heroin, cocaine and cannabis as part of a “radical cultural shift”, the country's drugs minister has said.
Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the chief of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy, told a lecture at the London School of Economics on Monday that drug users will be able to inject in specially designated rooms in Dublin from next year.
The minister said attitudes to drugs needed to move away from shaming addicts to helping them and emphasised there was a difference between legalisation and decriminalisation.
It would remain a crime to profit – from either the sale or distribution of illegal drugs – but drug takers would no longer be criminalised for their addictions.
“I am firmly of the view that 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,” said Mr Ó Ríordáin.
However, while Mr O Ríordáin told The Irish Times that there was a “strong consensus that drugs across the board should be decriminalised,” he said it would be for Ireland’s next government to discuss.
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Where cannabis is and isn't legal
Having been reclassified in 2009 from a Class C to a Class B drug, cannabis is now the most used illegal drug within the United Kingdom. The UK is also, however, the only country where Sativex – a prescribed drug that helps to combat muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis and contains some ingredients that are also found in cannabis - is licensed as a treatment
2/12 North Korea
Although many people believe the consumption of cannabis in North Korea to be legal, the official law regarding the drug has never been made entirely clear whilst under Kim Jong Un’s regime. However, it is said that the North Korean leader himself has openly said that he does not consider cannabis to be a drug and his regime doesn’t take any issue with the consumption or sale of the drug
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In the Netherlands smoking cannabis is legal, given that it is smoked within the designated ‘smoking areas’ and you don’t possess more than 5 grams for personal use. It is also legal to sell the substance, but only in specified coffee shops
Although in some states of America cannabis has now been legalised, prior to the legalisation, police in the U.S. could make a marijuana-related arrest every 42 seconds, according to US News and World Report. The country also used to spend around $3.6 billion a year enforcing marijuana law, the American Civil Liberties Union notes
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Despite cannabis being officially illegal in Spain, the European hotspot has recently started to be branded, ‘the new Amsterdam’. This is because across Spain there are over 700 ‘Cannabis Clubs’ – these are considered legal venues to consume cannabis in because the consumption of the drug is in private, and not in public. These figures have risen dramatically in the last three years – in 2010 there were just 40 Cannabis Clubs in the whole of Spain. Recent figures also show that in Catalonia alone there are 165,000 registered members of cannabis clubs – this amounts to over 5 million euros (£4 million) in revenue each month
In December 2013, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of the drug. But the president has since postponed the legalization of cannabis until to 2015 and when it is made legal, it will be the authorities who will grow the cannabis that can be sold legally. Buyers must be 18 or older, residents of Uruguay, and must register with the authorities
Despite the fact that laws prohibiting the sale and misuse of cannabis exist and is considered a habit only entertained by lower-income groups, it is very rarely enforced. The occasional use of cannabis in community gatherings is broadly tolerated as a centuries old custom. The open use of cannabis by Sufis and Hindus as a means to induce euphoria has never been challenged by the state. Further, large tracts of cannabis grow unchecked in the wild
In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalize the use of all drugs, and started treating drug users as sick people, instead of criminals. However, you can still be arrested or assigned mandatory rehab if you are caught several times in possession of drugs
9/12 Puerto Rico
Although the use of cannabis is currently illegal, it is said that Puerto Rico are in the process of decriminalising it
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The US state became the first in the country to legalise marijuana in January 2014. In February 2015, President Obama recently said he expects to see more states "looking into" legalisation. However, it is illegally to grow more than six cannabis plants and to possess more than 28 grams of the drug
Oaksterdam in Oakland, California, is the world's only university dedicated to the study and cultivation of cannabis. If you are court in California with anything up to an ounce of cannabis, you will be fine $100, but you will not get a criminal record, nor will you have to appear in court
Cannabis is grown in the wild and has been used to treat conditions such as gout and malaria. But, officially the substance is illegal to consume, possess and sell
His comments follow a leaked report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, appearing to call for a worldwide decriminalisation on 19 October.
The report was reportedly withdrawn after at least one nation put pressure on the international body to bury the findings of Dr Monica Beg, chief of the HIV/AIDs section of the UNODC in Vienna.
.@AodhanORiordain "When it comes to drugs, we like to victim blame...what are sick people doing in a courtroom if they need medical help?"— LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) November 2, 2015
Discussing plans to open ‘injection rooms’ Mr Ó Ríordáin said they would be “clinically controlled environments” that would aim to prevent already vulnerable individuals from exposing themselves to further risks.
He added: “Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours.”
Following the opening of the Dublin clinic, the minster added he hoped similar rooms in Cork, Glaway and Limerick would also open.Reuse content