Ireland has moved towards the decriminalisation of certain drugs, including cocaine, heroin and cannabis.
The ‘radical cultural shift’ was announced on Monday, as Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, the minister in charge of Ireland’s National Drugs Strategy, also told a lecture at the London School of Economics that from next year drug users will be able to inject in special rooms around Dublin.
According to The Independent the minister said they should be changing their attitude to drugs, so they’re helping addicts rather than shaming them, but he also emphasised there was a big difference between legalisation and decriminalisation.
Dealers would still be considered criminals – as it would remain a crime to profit from the sale and distribution of illegal drugs – but drug takers would stop being criminalised for their addiction.
Mr Ó Ríordáin told the Irish Times:
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.
Adding, there’s a “strong consensus that drugs across the board should be decriminalised”.
His comments come in the wake of a leaked report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which appeared to be calling for worldwide decriminalisation.
According to the BBC the report was withdrawn after at least one nation put pressure on the UN to bury the findings.
In regards to the ‘injection rooms’, Mr Ó Ríordáin said they would be ‘clinically controlled environments’, whose purpose is to prevent individuals who are already vulnerable from putting themselves at further risk.
He added: “Research has shown that the use of supervised injecting centres is associated with self-reported reductions in injecting risk behaviours.”