Citizens’ Assembly report calls for cttee on drug use

The final report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Drugs Use including 36 recommendations for the Oireachtas has been published.

It calls on the Government to provide leadership and accountability at the highest political level to address the use of drugs in Ireland, including a dedicated Cabinet committee chaired by the Taoiseach.

Last year, a Citizens’ Assembly was formed to consider, and make recommendations on changes the State could make, to significantly reduce the harmful impacts of illicit drugs.

Its final report which has been published this lunchtime recommends that the State pivots, to a comprehensive health-led response to drugs use, rather than using the criminal justice system.

There are 36 recommendations in total, and while most were agreed and adopted with a very high level of consensus, one notable exception at the Citizens Assembly, was a vote taken in relation to the possession of cannabis for personal use.

There were clear divisions between those who favoured a health-led response, including decriminalisation, and those who favoured the legalisation and regulation of cannabis.

In the end, the vote on this issue was narrowly in favour of an effective and appropriate balance between health diversion, dissuasion and decriminalisation.

It is now up to the Oireachtas to assess and implement the recommendations which the Chairperson Paul Reid has said could be done swiftly.

The report was delivered to the Taoiseach this morning.

The recommendations have significant implications of how the statutory, community and voluntary organisations working across the health and criminal justice systems are organised, funded and coordinated according to the report.

It states there are also implications for how the Government designs and implants drugs policy, with a call for greater political prioritisation and leadership including a dedicated Cabinet Committee on Drugs chaired by the Taoiseach.

It also calls for a more effective institutional coordination and implementation of drugs policy, and for greater alignment and policy coherence between drugs policy and wider social policy.

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